Last week AC Milan announced that they had bid for land about 2 miles away from the San Siro (in the Portello district) in order to build their own 48,000 capacity stadium. If all goes according to plan the stadium will be ready for the 2018-2019 Serie A season.
If their bid is successful, it raises the question of what will happen to the San Siro. Inter Milan and AC Milan have shared the 80,000 capacity stadium since 1947, and the historic ground has been home to many memorable games for both teams (including the iconic Derby della Madonnina between the two sides), World Cup matches, and European Cup/Champions League Finals (with the stadium slated to host the 2015-2016 final).
This classic stadium is not without its faults though. Neither club can pull in the amount of fans able to fill the massive stadium (Inter averages around 46,611 attendance and AC 43,696). The stadium is old and in need of major renovations if it wants to continue to be considered one of the elite venues in Europe. The thing that has prevented any work from being done on the stadium is the fact that neither club actually owns the San Siro, the Milan City Council does. Both clubs pay an annual rent of 4.1 million euros for use of the arena, but more importantly, any major redevelopment work must be agreed upon (and financed) by all three parties. This has led to only minimal work being carried out since 1987, in preparation for the 1990 World Cup.
Even before the arrival of president Erick Thohir, Inter had been weighing the options between building a new stadium for itself or buying the San Siro from the Council. Now that AC has pushed forward with moving out in favor of their own new stadium, Inter are now presented with the opportunity to keep the San Siro but make it better, and more importantly make it their own. Chief Executive Michael Bolingbroke met with members of the Milan City Council to open discussions over future plans for the stadium.
The current plans look like the two clubs will continue to share the stadium and pay rent until 2018. At that time, AC will move out and the Inter will either buy the stadium or renegotiate its rent as the sole user of the venue (obviously Inter would prefer to own the stadium on its own). In terms of renovations, Thohir plans to reduce the stadium's capacity from 80,000 to 56,000 (which would still make it the largest stadium in Italy) while also redesigning the Gallery, benches, bathrooms, restaurants, and metro stop nearby the arena.
Just as AC's plans are still questionable, even if they do go through, Inter are not guaranteed an easy route to owning the Giuseppe Meazza. Negotiations with the Milan City Council will probably take a bit of time; with them losing one of their tenants in AC, the Council will be looking to keep one of their sources of revenue, if not to make the best deal possible for themselves when selling to Inter.
Regardless of the potential negotiation issues, this is a promising step for the club. Thohir has been talking about turning Inter into both more of a international business and a top club in Europe again, and owning/renovating the San Siro will be a major help for both of these goals. The renovated stadium will bring in greater appeal for sponsorship deals and co-ventures with other organizations both in Italy and throughout the world. It will also bring more fans to the San Siro, highlighted in the increase in average fans when Juventus got their own stadium back in 2011 (plus the fact that Inter will no longer be paying rent to the Milan City Council will allow them to further increase their revenue). Both Inter and AC Milan stand to benefit from these moves, so the sooner plans can be finalized and actual work gets underway, the better.