Interview with Pierfrancesco Barletta on renovating San Siro

(SOURCE: sponsornet.it – April 2013)

Here is a full translation of an interview with Pierfrancesco Barletta that I found only recently, conducted in April 2013. Barletta is one of two vice-presidents of M-I Stadio – the company that manages San Siro on behalf of Milan and Inter. He is also COO of Inter, and therefore the Inter representative in this role. Milan’s vice-president representative at M-I Stadio is Alfonso Cefaliello, who is also finance director at Milan.

The Giuseppe Meazza encloses many aspects of the problem related to management of sports stadia in Italy. In fact here there is the novelty of the concession of the two Milan clubs, that share the management and the project of reconstruction.

“San Siro is leased to Milan and Inter and is managed by M-I Stadio, which has carried out for a number of years a renewal of the structure, starting first with the safety measures of the stadium as required by the Pisanu and Amato laws. With this done, we have invested in the services at the stadium for the fans and we have created new spaces. We have in fact built six new sky lounges and 30 new sky boxes for the sponsors.

Now we are working on the restructuring of the museum and the shop, which will be ready at the end of 2013. The museum, which has around 220,000 visits a year, is one of the most visited in Milan and the third most visited in Europe.”

Are you thinking of the adaptation of the Meazza, notwithstanding the interest of the two clubs for a stadium of their own, maybe with a greater conviction in this regard from Inter? At the moment what human and economic resources do you support?

“That Inter is thinking about a new stadium is not a mystery, but in the meantime – together with Milan – we will make San Siro adequate. This is managed by M-I Stadio in which I am A.D together with my colleague from Milan Alfonso Cefaliello. Inside the company, thirty people work every day, and they become much more on matchdays. In order to be able to make use of them we pay a rent of €8m a year.” [Ed. This is a rough approximation from Barletta. It’s usually a little bit more, with each club contributing just over €4m each].

Milan is bidding to be a candidate to host the final of the Champions League final in 2016 – you probably have various work to complete?

“Of course. Our future investments concern the demolition of the barriers, as requested by UEFA, the adaptation of the signs inside the stadium, and of the toilet facilities that at the moment are in poor condition. Between 2013 and 2014 we will remake the toilets in the first and second tiers, and by 2015 we will remake those in the third tier. In addition, we have resolved the problem of the pitch, which has caused problems for years due to the number of matches played and the restructuring in 1990.”

How much did the operation of restoring the pitch cost?

“The cost carried by the club was €300,000, but if you think that relaying the pitch cost €180,000, and this was done five times a year, we are already amply returning our investment. In addition, we invested in a lighting system for the growth of the grass, patented by M-I Stadio that we will also sell to other stadia.”

It seems to offer good results. Have you developed it in collaboration with some specialist company?

“Great results, because it allows the regrowth of the natural grass, seeing as the pitch is 70% natural grass and 30% synthetic. Instead of buying it from other companies we have decided to do it on our own. Although there are two other competitors that make a similar product, we have patented and now we will try to sell it.”

So there are a series of costs – management and of maintenance – with respect to the attainment of economic equilibrium. Which operations can be achieved?

“The equilibrium is reached knowing that the Meazza is a place of the city that can be used every day and not just on the day of matches. We are suggesting the dedication of the rooms/halls of the stadium for conferences, weddings and business dinners. We have many requests and it is a part of business that we have implemented a lot in recent years. As well as that, this summer there will be nine concerts.”

Therefore, even an old stadium, but renovated, can enable operating margins in order to reach conditions of equilibrium?

“For the club it is a sustainable model, but it does not allow Milan or Inter to have additional revenues. An old stadium does not offer those margins that can be developed by a new one. The true novelty is that two clubs this diverse can manage a stadium together, although certainly a stadium of your own for every football club is desirable and is the objective of all. In the meantime the model of shared management with another club that we have experimented is interesting in any case.”

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