The teams say they initially considered changes to the current San Siro but quickly concluded logistical issues and delays would be too much to overcome. What they have proposed instead is a 60,000-seat arena to be built next door. Once it is constructed, the current San Siro will come down and make way for public space that may include elements of its iconic towers and ramps, according to the designs by Populous, the American architecture firm whose proposal was chosen.
“I think these buildings are containers, and therefore the old buildings have such emotion attached to them that the idea that some of it can remain, if it can be there as a marker of history of what was before, is quite a nice idea,” said Chris Lee, a managing director of Populous. “One has to be careful about trying to transfer too much of that, literally, into new buildings, where it can easily tip into the pastiche of trying to recreate a building.”
Opposition is to be expected, Lee said. In Milan, it has emerged in various forms.
Milan’s mayor, Beppe Sala, while generally supportive of the project, has warned both clubs that the city-owned San Siro would remain until at least 2026, when it is expected to host the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics.
A different group, the Si Meazza committee, has taken a hard-line approach, challenging the mere idea of the demolition of the San Siro, which its most prominent voices — lawyers, concert promoters and former politicians — described as a symbol of Milan known around the world, a stage on which Diego Maradona, Bob Dylan and Beyoncé have performed. Other critics pointed to the ecological impact of tearing down a stadium and highlighted renderings that they argued proved the job could be done for half the cost while saving the original arena.
Some fear, though, the die may have been cast: A future without the San Siro received the tacit approval of Italy’s heritage authority in 2020 when it raised no objections to the stadium’s demolition. In November, the project was declared in the public interest (with certain conditions) by city officials.