Roma's US president issues stadium ultimatum

July 29, 2017
In this Sunday, May 28, 2017 photo, Roma President James Pallotta, right, raises the arm of Francesco Totti as he salutes his fans after an Italian Serie A football match between Roma and Genoa at the Olympic stadium in Rome.

ROME (AP):

The American president of AS Roma is running out of patience. If regional authorities do not approve construction of a long-delayed new stadium for the team, Boston executive James Pallotta says that he is prepared to sell the club.

"We have to be breaking ground in February or March. The approval has to be any day now," Pallotta told The Associated Press this week.

"We don't want to sell it. We think there's a huge opportunity for us to build a championship-calibre team with a stadium and an entertainment complex," Pallotta added in a telephone interview from Boston, where the team was training. "But if they can't get the approval stuff in order, then someone else is going to have to go through with it."

Pallotta first presented the stadium plan in March 2014 alongside then-mayor Ignazio Marino, saying that it would be ready for the 2016-17 season which ended two months ago.

But the massive project - due to include a training centre, entertainment complex, three office towers and extensive transportation works - has been delayed by environmental concerns and criticism over public funding.

The project's cost was originally valued at €1.6 billion (nearly US$2 billion), including more than €200 million in public financing.

Earlier this year, the office towers were cut from the project to gain approval from current mayor Virginia Raggi.

Approval from the Lazio region is the next step.

The proposed stadium site in Tor di Valle is about halfway between downtown and Leonardo Da Vinci Airport.

With a design inspired by the Colosseum, the stadium is slated to seat 52,500 and be expandable to 60,000 for major matches.

Roma currently shares the 72,000-seat Stadio Olimpico with city rival Lazio.

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