The lights on San Siro they could definitely go out: the Meazza “does not present cultural interest”, according to the Regional Commission for the cultural heritage of Lombardy, and therefore it must not be protected by the Superintendency for Cultural Heritage. Decision paving the way for the demolition and construction of a new stadium in the same area. But it would not be the only case, on the contrary: the recent history of world football is full of demolished historical “cathedrals”.
The most important is undoubtedly the old man Wembley, a true football icon, defined by Pelé as the “football capital”. The plant, which stood in the homonymous suburb of London, was born in 1924 and mirrored the Victorian style, even with the twin towers 38 meters high, which delimited the entrance to the main grandstand. On the day of the inauguration, the tragedy touched (the barriers that kept those who did not have a ticket collapsed) and the 127 thousand payers poured onto the pitch, having no other escape routes: incredibly there were no deaths. The rest is a story carried out by the English national team, which won the home World Cup in 1966. Italy triumphed here twice, in 1973 and 1997, thanks to the goals of Fabio Capello and Gianfranco Zola. Closed in 2000, demolished in 2003, it was replaced by the new Wembley, inaugurated by a 3-3 in the friendly England-Italy Under 21. For the Azzurri Giampaolo Pazzini entered history by signing a hat-trick.
It was even more long-lived Highbury, home of Arsenal for almost a century, from 1913 to 2006. Much smaller than Wembley (capacity of just under 40 thousand seats), in this jewel the Gunners have conquered all their 13 English championships. The last game was an Arsenal-Wigan on May 7, 2006, then Highbury was demolished and converted into a residential complex of 650 luxury apartments, with an underground parking under the green mantle (that has been maintained and divided into many condominium gardens, just as the facades of the East and West Stand have been saved). And still with English football, how not to mention White Hart Lane, a Tottenham blockhouse for more than 100 years, from 1899 to 2017. The Spurs moved to the brand new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium (waiting for the company to cede the naming rights to a sponsor), a jewel costing over a billion pounds.
Therefore, real monuments of football have been dismantled, and San Siro would be in excellent company. In Italy, demolition and tuning of stadiums have almost always clashed with bureaucracy, one of the very few exceptions is represented by Turin Alps, as large as it is dispersive. Built for Italy ’90, it was knocked out after only 16 years of activity. The current Allianz Stadium was born from its ashes, the basis of the Juventus successes of the last eight years and, certainly, one of the reasons why Inter and Milan want to have a much more functional system, on the Turin model.
In Spain, however, if the Bernabéu and the Camp Nou resist, Atletico Madrid has not had much trouble demolishing the historic “Vicente Calderon”, of which today only the “Grada de Preferencia” remains, practically a wreck of the old stadium in the heart of the city. The Colchoneros since 2017 play at the Wanda Metropolitano, in the east of the capital. Similar choice was made by another “blanquirrojo” club, Athletic Bilbao, which in 2013 – 100 years after its inauguration – shot down the old San Mamés, the theater of a thousand battles where the Basques had built almost all their palmarès ( eight championships plus 23 King’s Cups, counting the main trophies). In Spain they called it the “Catedral” and demolished it to build a better future. In Italy the stakes are even higher: after the coronavirus the challenge is called a restart. And the new San Siro, in the intentions of the presidents of Milan and Inter, Paolo Scaroni and Steven Zhang, would be functional also and above all to this: to revive Milan, expected from the Winter Games of 2026, and to shake up the whole of Italy.