Milan unveils plans for innovative new stadium – that holds about half as many fans

Since the quality of the soccer was mostly terrible, the rebuilt San Siro became one of the stars of Italia ’90, with its three-tiered immensity, pointy right-angled roof supports and huge external concrete cylinders.

The iconic venue symbolized Italy’s status as a confident, haughty and majestic world soccer powerhouse.

The 1990 World Cup, though, was a long time ago (reaches for calculator) – 25 years! These days, Italian soccer is downsizing and the San Siro is showing its age. AC Milan had won their second successive European Cup when Italia ’90 swung around; right now it’s tenth in Serie A. So maybe it’s no surprise that Milan are looking to build a new home that’s not far off half the size.

Juventus successfully moved from the unloved 67,000 Stadio delle Alpi, built for the World Cup, to a new 41,000-seater home in 2011 and are doing a good job of filling it.

It makes sense for Milan to downsize as well; after all, this season, the rossoneri have averaged just 37,000 fans. That makes for plenty of empty seats in a stadium that holds 80,000. That average crowd is good for third in Serie A, but would put them ninth in the Premier League and 12th in the Bundesliga.

Other than the capacity, what’s notable about Milan’s scheme is how different the new home will look from the San Siro. While that’s a towering, highly-visible monument on the outskirts of the city, plans designed to placate reluctant neighbors call for the new urban stadium to be discreetly blended in with the surrounding environment – with noise-reducing materials and only 30 meters tall.

Judging from the video, it looks like a set of apartment complexes, or maybe an office block. It’s modest and humble, almost apologetic, rather than ostentatious as we might have expected from a club with Milan’s proud history.

That the statement feels obliged to mention there will be “zero tolerance to those who behave inappropriately in and out of the stadium” also speaks loudly to the current image problem surrounding Italian soccer, what with the violence and racism too frequently exhibited by its fans.

All in all, this is a stadium scheme that looks like it’d be progressive and innovative, yet still manages to be emblematic of the decline of Serie A and one of its leading clubs.