Rolling Stones pay

Rome mayor under fire for low fee

Rome's mayor Ignazio Marino has come in for heavy criticism after it was revealed that the Rolling Stones were charged just below €8,000 to use the Circus Maximus as their concert venue on 22 June.

Marino defended the low fee as being part of outdated legislation that he is seeking to overhaul, with plans to raise charges for use of city land by up to ten times the current rate. He also revealed that the total earnings for the city from the British band amounted to €176,000 – of which less than €8,000 related to the use of the 2,000-year-old Circus Maximus. The bulk of the money was spent on extra police and logistical costs such as security and rubbish collection.

The mayor said previously that the 70,000 concert-goers, about two thirds of whom came from abroad, would earn the city economy about €25 million - a figure disputed by some in the hospitality sector. Marino said it was a positive thing that visitors would spend money on Roman "hotels, restaurants, bars, taxis and icecreams."

Local newspapers were quick to point out that a similar-sized concert in Hyde Park would have generated the London administration over €300,000. Media also cited the €6 million the concert was expected to gross, as well as the estimated €60,000 per night that the band paid for itself and its staff at the capital’s luxury Hotel St Regis.

When the concert was first announced in March, Rome's superintendent for archaeology Mariarosaria Barbera objected strongly, fearing “serious damage” could be caused to the ancient site. However she was overruled by the regional director of the culture ministry.

Notwithstanding the controversy over the Circus Maximus venue and the city fee, the concert was a success, with the veteran rockers thrilling the crowds with classic hits such as Honky Tonk Woman, Jumpin' Jack Flash, Sympathy for the Devil, Brown Sugar, and Let's spend the night together.

Mick Jagger saluted the audience from the band's 40-m stage with “Grazie. Ciao Roma, ciao Italia” before wishing the Italian football team good luck in its World Cup campaign.

The British rockers are touring the world to celebrate their 50th anniversary, and came to Rome 47 years after their first Italian performances in 1967, in Rome, Bologna and Genova. The last time the band played in Rome was in 2007, at the Stadio Olimpico.