Sportlifecity honourary president Giuseppe Cassinari has spoken for the first time about AC Milan’s new stadium in the San Francesco area.

Cassari was the initial driving force behind the development in the San Francesco area of San Donato, aptly named Sportlifecity. Earlier this year, he made the pivotal decision to transfer ownership of his company to Milan, under the leadership of Gerry Cardinale.

In a comprehensive discussion with Radio Rossonera, Cassari provided insights into how the sale to Milan transpired and what Milan fans can anticipate from the stadium. Among various aspects, he emphasized the remarkable quality of the Milan Curva.

Cassari, could you give us a brief overview of your vision for the new stadium in San Donato, how you initiated discussions with Milan, and the initial steps taken by both parties in exploring the possibility of a stadium in the San Francesco area?

The idea of considering the San Donato area for a potential future AC Milan stadium started to take shape towards the end of last year in 2022. My company had been in discussions for over a year, in the final stages of negotiations, with the largest American arena construction company globally. However, another American competitor unexpectedly joined the negotiations at the last moment.

Just as we were about to finalize the deal, Milan, and by extension, the new owners (RedBird) who had connections with these two companies, officially approached me to halt our discussions. As a lifelong AC Milan supporter, it was like planning a trip to Paris and then being asked to go around the world – an opportunity I couldn’t refuse.

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In the early months of 2023, they communicated their intention to invest in the project, while still considering other options. On June 8, 2023, the majority (90%) of my company was sold.

You mentioned that the bureaucratic phase will take 18 months and the stadium construction itself will require three years. Could you provide more details about the specific areas that will undergo changes, including roads, parking, and so on, to address any prior confusion?

Building a stadium necessitates improving access and exit points to ensure seamless operations. The advantage here is that the concerned area holds great interest above the council level and is strategically located with considerable potential (a train station on-site, a nearby metro, and a location enclosed by a highway and ring road).

The project involves constructing a bridge from the north, offering direct access to multiple lanes from the ring road, in addition to pedestrian and bicycle access for fans. To the south, a new exit ramp on the highway for rapid egress will be developed.

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The American company overseeing the project, particularly Tim Romani, with whom I’ve been acquainted for over two years, brings a high level of professionalism to the endeavor. The majority of parking facilities will be constructed underneath the stadium.

How advantageous is it for the project that some bureaucratic hurdles have already been cleared, with the land being designated as suitable for sports facilities? Why is this the right time for a new stadium for Milan?

The path I’ve followed with the previous administration over the past seven years has been of immense importance. It allowed us to thoroughly address numerous critical aspects that are crucial today. The complete and definitive approval of the Sportlifecity project on July 1, 2021, serves as a strong and stable foundation for Milan’s stadium project.

The ongoing discussions and constructive dialogue with the council and various other stakeholders fill me with confidence. Nevertheless, I am aware that there will be challenges in the coming 12-15 months.

Why should Milan fans rejoice about the new stadium? Given your familiarity with the area, the San Donato council, and the San Francesco locale, what benefits do you foresee for residents, fans, and potential naming rights visibility?

As fans of AC Milan, and also as residents of San Donato, including myself, we have a deep-seated interest in the future of the city in which we live. We should all be extremely pleased.

Currently, the San Francesco area unfortunately experiences a degree of decay, and the railway station area, which is underutilized, will be rejuvenated and connected through bicycle and pedestrian pathways. With improved accessibility and traffic, things should run smoothly. This will lead to a significant enhancement of safety for the entire city, an increase in local commerce, and more employment opportunities, especially for the youth of San Donato.

Renderings of the new stadium have not been disclosed yet. Can you provide any insights into what fans might find exciting about the new stadium? There have been discussions about a retractable field and wider stands, among other features.

As an avid AC Milan supporter, and until recently a longtime season ticket holder for 45 years, I had the pleasure of reviewing five potential stadium designs alongside Gerry Cardinale, President Scaroni, and Giorgio Furlani. The entire AC Milan board is collaborating closely on this project.

From my perspective, I had AC Milan fans in Italy and around the world in mind when expressing my preferences, always in a confidential manner. It should be a grandiose structure that honors our passionate, winning “casciavit” spirit that has defined us over the years.

I was delighted to hear that Gerry shares the same vision. One exciting aspect is that the Milan Curva, where 9-10k fans will be located, will be in close proximity to the pitch. It will be challenging for any other stadium to surpass us in the new setup.

Cassari’s deep commitment to Milan and his pivotal role in laying the foundation for this project make his involvement even more special for Rossoneri fans.

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