Demolition of Milan’s iconic San Siro stadium benefits tax haven funds

The controversial plan to demolish the San Siro stadium is one of the biggest examples of the growing influence of property investors in Milan. In 2019, football clubs AC Milan and Internazionale, which both play at the stadium, signed an agreement with the municipality for a mega-project to redevelop San Siro and its surroundings. The deal shed light on the two football giants, whose controlling companies have operations in tax havens and ultimate owners unknown even to local authorities.

Built in 1926, the aging 80,000-seat San Siro has undergone several restorations over the years. It passed its last site inspection at the end of 2021. But the two clubs, both controlled by foreign investment firms, want to leave and plan to build a new stadium, with just 10,000 fewer seats, on a 50-yard pitch. 000 m2 just 70 meters. away from existing land.

Besides the desire for a state-of-the-art stadium, the demolition of the San Siro will also negate any potential confrontation with Hines, the American development company building an apartment complex in front of the stadium. Flagship project of Milan major Giuseppe Sala, the development of San Siro continues despite an avalanche of criticism from the world of football, community groups and even singers and art experts.

“To tear down the San Siro would be awful, it’s a beautiful place, the new buildings don’t have that soul,” said Bruce Springsteen, who has often performed at the stadium, recently. said.

The environmental costs of flattening the stadium are also of concern. According to a to study by Paolo Pileri, professor of urban planning and design at the Polytechnic University of Milan, the demolition and its disposal would reverse all the progress in reducing emissions made between 2005 and 2020. The project will free up around 210,500 tons of CO2 emissions. Construction is expected to begin in 2024.

But the local municipality, owner of the ground, feels obliged to cooperate with the powerful football clubs

“The stadium area is the property of the municipality, it has been managed by the two sports clubs for a century, we cannot ignore the will of the teams”, admits the city councilor for Urban Regeneration, Giancarlo Tancredi. “Teams have expressed a number of needs and have even speculated on leaving if they are not met.”

In the project plans filed with the municipality, it is specified that “the ambitions of repositioning [the clubs] at the top of the international ranking depend on the project for a new stadium and its surroundings. It is hoped that the planned shopping complex, conference center and office space will bring new capital to the clubs, which have long been saddled with debt.

Had the municipality turned down the plans, Sala said previously, the clubs would go elsewhere. Should that happen, the former thieves’ quarter of Sesto San Giovanni, north of Milan, has been touted as a possible alternative.

“It’s a pathetic bluff”, explains Massimo Mainardi of the Association off topic“all the Falcks [a steal company] the areas of Sesto are already fragmented, the so-called T5 would remain, but it needs to be cleaned up and anyway is too small for this project.

In the meantime, the municipality has signed the new deal at a loss. Surprisingly, instead of the 9 million euros per year charged on the current 30-year lease for San Siro, the new terms run for 90 years, with the rent revised down to a modest 2.2 million euros per year. year.

The San Siro Committee, a local campaign organization, has been fighting for three years to protect the stadium. Their request for a referendum was rejected and they are now awaiting the outcome of an appeal to the regional administrative court early next year.

“The mayor says that there are no other clubs ready to invest for the restoration of San Siro, but if he points to an international tender, he will see that transparent companies will apply”, explains Luigi Corbani of the Committee.

The clubs have not yet informed the municipality of the beneficial owners of their companies, although this is required by local regulations. AC Milan was sold last summer by Eliott Management to another American investment company red bird Capital Partners, for a reported amount of $1.2 billion. Based in New York, Red Bird often operates through corporations incorporated in the tax state of Delaware.

Inter, meanwhile, is majority-owned by the Chinese retail giant Sun. The club announced in October that Suning was looking for buyers. The Chinese holding is made up of three companies based in Luxembourg and one in Hong Kong. The remaining 31.05% of Inter is owned by LionRock, another Hong Kong-based entity, which also operates from the Cayman Islands.

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