Pallotta talks Stadio della Roma

President James Pallotta spoke with about the Stadio della Roma:

“We’ve been putting this together for two-and-a-half years. It has been something that we have worked on in the background and we even presented it in the spring. We have put hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars into infrastructure so, in terms of traffic concerns, we’re changing the roads there, we’re putting in a pedestrian bridge over the river, we’re spending €50 million [£39.3m] on the metro station, and it goes on and on and on. We’ve got a lot of intelligence in US stadiums, with traffic flows and things that we’ve worked hard on. We had one of the top traffic consultants in the world working on this for the last two years with us also.”

“The Tor di Valle? This particular piece of land was the old hippodrome so it has been used for sports before. This will be a much bigger and more populated facility and it will end up being one of the premier entertainment spots in Europe too, with AEG – which owns the O2 Arena in London – as our partner in the stadium. And there are other partnerships we are putting together. So when we did these studies we used the best traffic people in the world, we have used Goldman [Sachs] on the financing side, we have used DLA Piper, who are the best in stadium legal work. Across the board, all of our stuff has been done with the best at doing these things. And AEG say it is the most exciting project they have done in a long, long time.”

“The river is a positive for us, as the Italian government is giving a large amount of money to redo the airport in Rome and Etihad – which is one of the best airlines in the world – is going to sink billions into it. So the capacity of the airport will go from about 30-odd million to 60 million and the first stop on the train line which we are fixing up is for our stadium.”

“There will be the ring road, the high-speed train line and then there will be a lower-speed local train line. Plus, we’re on the river and one of the things Rome wants to do is actually use that river to get people from the airport to the centre of town because it is deep enough and wide enough to start bringing boats in for transportation across the board, which will be pretty cool too. We’re also building a beautiful 50-acre park alongside the river on top of that. It is not going to be easy but we’re working hard at it.”

“The team owns the stadium in effect; the money flows to it. The issue when you are financing a stadium is that because of the costs of construction, you don’t want to put liability onto a club. No team does that in the United States. The only team that has done it opposite to that way for some funky reasons was Juventus but, that excepted, there’s no stadium with which the team has that ownership structure and it’s not for taxes, it’s for liability.”

“You don’t want to have a situation where the stadium is not doing well and the people who are at the stadium can call and take away a team, in effect. So it has to get financed separately but, at the end of the day, it is owned by the investors in Roma, not by Jim Pallotta. I have a big piece of Roma and I have a piece of the holding company but so do a bunch of other people.”

“Even after construction there is a flow that goes up to the holding company in effect but you never want to have one of those a potential liability for the other. You never want to do it the other way and have the team as a liability for the stadium, nor do you want the stadium liable for the team. We won’t get stuff financed unless we have a structure like this so it’s not us trying to get the benefit of it, it flows up to the shareholders of Roma who just put in their money from the bank. It’s all the investors who have been putting money into Roma over the past three years who own the team and the ownership of the stadium too. It is only set up the way it is structurally because of financing and liability. We have had to explain that to politicians left and right in order to get approval.”

“Our aspirations are to become one of the best teams in the world and you don’t get from A to Z in the couple of years since I’ve taken over. There’s a lot to do. The most important thing is to put a good team on the pitch first and foremost and I think we’re on the way to doing that but, in terms of all the other stuff, there’s a long way to go. To use a baseball metaphor, we have the second man up in the first innings. We’ve got significant plans on how to get there and, as I say, it’s going to take a long time. Rome wasn’t built in a day, right?!”