Pallotta: ‘Roma stadium in 10 days’

Roma President James Pallotta expects final approval on the new stadium within 10 days and “we’ll break ground in February or March”.

The Giallorossi have been attempting to get the Stadio della Roma project off the ground for some time, and have already won approval from the city.

However, they must also be given approval from the Lazio region and the club’s patron expects that to arrive shortly.

“There are only four teams right now I think who have their own stadium, and we should have approval within 10 days or so,” Pallotta said at the Serie A roadshow in New York, attended by Football Italia’s Matthew Santangelo.

“We should get final approval, and we’ll break ground in February or March, it’ll be about 55,000 seats plus over 200,000 square feet of entertainment space.

“We’re on a 200-acre spot, 15 minutes from downtown, 15 minutes from the airport, on the river on which we’ll build docks so you can come in from the city or the airport, [we’re] inside the ring road and [there are] two train lines.

“So all of that is just things we’re trying to do to create a global brand, but we need the stadium.“

Pallotta also discussed Francesco Totti, who has retired from football to become a director with the club.

“Francesco, for those of you who don’t know really started playing at 11-years-old, and his first game at Roma was at the age of 16.

“So, for 30-plus years all he’s done is bend down, put on his cleats and gone out on the pitch. So this is the big change for him.

“We had his retirement party back about two months ago and Francesco and I have had long conversations over the past year about his role.

“At the end of the day he did an interview on Roma TV and he essentially said ‘I’m no longer Francesco Totti, I’m now Roma’.

“So whatever we need from him he’s said that he’ll be part of Roma forever.

“The interesting thing about that [his retirement] is that the it’s the last game of the year, we’re playing Genoa, we’re one point ahead of Napoli.

“Napoli is blowing out their competition, we go down 1-0 and it’s supposed to be Francesco’s retirement party and we needed that game to be in the Champions League.

“We go up 2-1, and I think with 15 minutes left Genoa scores to tie it up. Now, I don’t have a seat at the stadium, I literally stand. I might be the only owner who stands.

“I couldn’t even watch this game in the stadium and stand up, in the second half I went down to the Coach’s room and Genoa scored to tie it 2-2 and I actually just got a bill through from CONI because I picked up a chair and put it through the wall.

“Then [Diego] Perotti without about two minutes left kicked it in and that got us into the Champions League again, so I actually thought that was probably more exciting, at least for me.”

The event was designed to promote the profile of Serie A, and Pallotta believes there’s a lot of potential to be exploited.

“Most people don’t realise how big it is in the rest of the world,” the Roma President said.

“I’ll give you an example of it when it comes to Roma: we found a fan club in Saudi Arabia that was an existing fan club.

“Does anyone want to guess how many members? 800,000. Mailing addresses, email addresses: 800,000.

“When we took our youth team, Primavera team, to Vietnam 6,000 people showed up at the airport and 20,000 were in the stands. For our Under-19 team.

“When we went to Indonesia, along the road from the airport to the stadium it was was just lined with people, and when you go into the stadium they have their own Curva Sud.

“Amazingly for the whole two hours they sang Roma songs, two hours straight. In Italian.

“So you know it’s a huge worldwide product, it’s just  hasn’t been distributed in the way it deserves.”