The San Siro Stadium (named after a Saint to whom was dedicated a little Church nearby) has been a gift from AC Milan president Piero Pirelli (whose presidency lasted from 1909 for 20 years) to “his” city of Milan. The new stadium was built in just thirteen and a half months, thanks to the work of 120 skilled builders. The stadium cost around 5 million Italian liras. The architects signing the design of the project were Stacchini (who designed also Milan Central Station) and Cugini.
The “first” San Siro was a typical English stadium, with four tribunes that could host 35 thousand people. The inauguration (19 September 1926) saw a friendly Derby, and it couldn’t be otherwise: 6-3 Inter was the final score. The first championship match was played on October, 6th (AC Milan – Sampierdarenese 1-2), while the first international match was played on February, 20th 1927 (Italy – Czechoslovakia 2-2). Until 1945 San Siro was the home solely of AC Milan; Inter Milan used to play its home matches at Napoleonic Arena. The “Scala” of football has undergone many restorations, to become today’s majestic monument.
The first improvement
In 1935 AC Milan sold the stadium to the City of Milan that, three years later, decided to enlarge it. Football was becoming a mass phenomenon and San Siro needed to be prepared. The extension project – designed by architect Rocca and engineer Calzolari – exploited the existing structures supporting a overhang terraces system and a series of external access ramp. The original capacity of 150 thousand seats was reduced to slightly less than 100 thousand in 1952 by a City of Milan deliberation. The inauguration of the newly improved stadium – the improvement works ended in 1939 with an expenditure of 5,100,00 Italian liras – happened on May, 13th 1939 with a match between Italy and England (2-2) that earned 1,200,000 Italian liras.
The second renewal
In 1954 works for the second enlargement started, and were completed twelve months later, with the inauguration on October 26th, 1955: the San Siro capacity was extended to 85 thousand seats. The first lighting system was put in place in 1957. In 1967, instead, the first electronic scoreboard was installed. In 1979 the lightning system was replaced with a newer one, and the second tier renovated. On March, 3rd 1980, with a plaque set at the main entrance, the Stadium was named after Giuseppe Meazza, unforgotten champion that played for both AC Milan and Inter Milan, and deceased the year before. In 1986 the first tier’s seats were numbered with colored seats: red for the centre tribune, orange for the opposite tribune, green under the north tribune and blue for the AC Milan fan’s tribune.
The third tier
On the occasion of the 1990 World Cup, the City of Milan decided to start the renovation of the “Meazza” stadium, abandoning the idea of building a brand new stadium due to the high costs and the strict timetable. The first thought was to design a futuristic solution and architecturally astonishing: build the third tier and cover all seating places. The project, signed by architect Giancarlo Ragazzi, architect Enrico Hoffer and engineer Leo Finzi requires autonomous support upon which have the tier rest, located around the existing Stadium. Eleven towers were built with reinforced concrete giving access to the terraces, four of which give support to the reticular beam for the roofing. For an increased comfort, all seats installed are ergonomic, numbered and colored differently for each of the Stadium sections. The 85,700 resulting seats are all built with a polycarbonate sheet, guaranteeing more comfort for the audience. A new lightning system as well as a heating system for the pitch, to keep the temperature controlled and avoid ice formation, were installed. On June, 8th 1990 the Stadium hosts the inauguration match of the FIFA World Cup Argentina - Cameron. Since then, Milan’s “Temple of football” hosted, and still hosts, every Sunday, thousands of fans’ passion. In summer 2008, after a renovation to fulfill the UEFA standards, the capacity of the San Siro stadium was reduced to 80,018 seats.
To build the San Siro were used one thousand tons of concrete, 3,500 cubic meters of sand and 150 tons of reinforcing steel. To mark the pitch lines 80 kilos of chalk are used. The pitch is 105 meters long and 68 meters wide. The perimeter beam of the stadium are 204 and 296 meters long respectively and weight 1,100 and 2,000 tons each. On the roofing are installed 256 projectors that work with halide vapors lamps at 3,500 watt. To carry out the main renovation works, two cranes 64 meters height were especially built. Inside those cranes are located an emergency ladder and a lift with a payload of 1,000 kilos. The San Siro stadium is located next to Milan’s hippodrome and is about 6 kilometers from city centre.
Not just football
The San Siro stadium, nowadays one of Milan’s symbol as the Scala and the Duomo, is not only famous for football, having hosted numerous historical events. For example the boxing match between Duilio Loi and Carlos Ortis (September, 1st 1960), re-match for the junior welterweight world title. There were 53,043 viewers, 8 thousand at ring side. That match, won by the Italian, earned 130 million Italian liras. The stadium hosted also many concerts. For example Bob Marley’s (June, 27th 1980) who, standing beneath the north tribune, played for the only Italian date. For the occasion, there was an audience worthy of a Derby: 90 thousand people. The same happened for another rock star, Bruce Springsteen (1985). The red tribune has also hosted an open air disco. Today, underneath the south tribune, a museum is open to travel through a century of AC Milan and Inter Milan thanks to the memorabilia of the celebrities that wrote the historical pages of the San Siro. During the football season, the Stadium is visited throughout the day by enthusiastic people. Since July, 1st 2000, the Stadium is managed by AC Milan and Inter Milan jointly.
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