June 24 – New Fiorentina owner Rocco Commisso has wasted no time getting his feet under the desk at the Serie A club saying he will refurbish the stadium.
The American billionaire has unveiled some of his ambition for the club he bought for €160 million saying that he wanted to modernise the 43,000-capacity Stadio Artemio Franchi to make the facilities comparable with leading European stadia. The stadium, opened in 1930, has been untouched since its last renovation, completed in 1990 before the Italia 90 World Cup.
He also immediately announced that the team would be playing at the International Champions Cup in the US, taking the place of Roma that has just withdrawn. The friendly pre-season tournament
Fiorentina will be in action in three matches at the SeatGeek Stadium in Chicago July 16, Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte July 20, and finally at the Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey, July 24.
Commisso believes that the Fiorentina brand can be developed in the US. He already owns the NY Cosmos but they are currently without a professional league to play in – having been part of the old NASL that folded last year and not having committed to the third tier USL Division or the newly formed NISA (also third tier).
Commisso was furious at US Soccer’s refusal to grant the NASL a tier two license claiming that it broke antitrust rules in the US by favouring the MSL and USL. There is talk that Fiorentina may play the Cosmos in New York but when and where is unclear. However, a branding tie-up and player development opportunity between the clubs does make sense and could further add to the New York soccer market – though to date the Cosmos have failed to find consistency there.
A businessman with an eye for a deal (he is the chairman of cable broadcaster Mediacom), he said: “The revenue streams in Serie A are about a third of the Premier League and I see a lot of opportunity.”
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