Abandoned Rome stadium to host "Casa del Rugby" under city plans.
Rome's city administration has begun the process of restoring the capital's Flaminio Stadium which has fallen into a state of disrepair and been abandonded for several years.
The first stage of works to reclaim the overgrown grounds, which began on 29 October and will take about a month, are part of bigger plans to transform the stadium into a "monumental park that will host, among other things, the Casa del Rugby", said the capital's sports councillor Daniele Frongia.
The regeneration project is being undertaken in collaboration with the Italian National Olympic Committee (CONI), together with Rome's Sapienza University and the Getty Foundation. Designed by celebrated Italian engineer and architect Pier Luigi Nervi, with his son Antonio, the stadium was built originally to host football matches during Rome's 1960 Olympic Games.
Stadio Flaminio was the headquarters of Italy's national rugby team for Six Nations tournament home matches from 2000 until 2011. However the city's plans to refurbish and upgrade the stadium to international standards, by increasing its seating capacity from 25,000 to 48,000, failed to materialise, resulting in the Italian Rugby Federation (FIR) moving its Six Nations base to Rome's much larger Stadio Olimpico in 2012.
Before its recent decline, the Flaminio Stadium was used for other events other than rugby. In 1988 it hosted two sell-out concerts by pop star Michael Jackson, as well as the November 2003 Railway Cup Final, an interprovincial championship of the Irish national sport hurling.
The Stadio Flaminio regeneration project follows similar works carried out recently by the city at Campo Testaccio, the long-abandoned former stadium of AS Roma in the Testaccio district.