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Official Review by Stephan Hoogerwaard, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
Since 1926, the San Siro stadium in the city of Milan has been the home of Italian football club AC Milan. The stadium was built in 1925 and was named after the district of San Siro, which is a district located in the west of Milan. On the September 19, 1926 the stadium was opened in front of 35,000 spectators with a match between AC Milan and fellow citizens Internazionale (Inter Milan).
As ground sharing is not uncommon in Italy, Internazionale decided back in the late 1950’s to play their home matches in this stadium as well. In 1979 the name of the stadium was officially renamed Stadio Giuseppe Meazza. It was named after club legend and football player Giuseppe Meazza. Meazza played for both Milan clubs but won the most trophies for Internazionale. The name change of the stadium was very controversial. Supporters of AC Milan, never accepted the new name and still call their stadium San Siro.
For the 1990 World Cup, the stadium was renovated at a cost of 60 million euros. The stadium was given a third tier and around the stadium appeared 11 round reinforced concrete towers which function as stairs. There was also a roof added on the stadium, which had been uncovered since the opening back in 1926. The four corner towers (each 51 metres high) support the gigantic roof with its distinctive red iron framework making the stadium a real landmark. During the 1990 World Cup the stadium hosted six matches including the opening match of the tournament between Cameroon and Argentina.
The San Siro stadium has been labelled by the UEFA as a five star stadium and was awarded to host several Champions League finals. The stadium is also used for concerts and other events. The world’s biggest pop stars (like Madonna, The Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, U2 and Robbie Williams) have played at the San Siro. The current capacity of the San Siro stadium is 80,018 seats.
The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:
Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
There is plenty of space around the stadium and many stalls where you can drink or eat something before the match, forming a ring around the stadium. There are stalls which serve beer or sodas and there are other stalls which serve hamburgers, hot dogs, pizza slices and panini (prepared sandwiches). We paid just 3 euro, for quite a large ham and cheese sandwich, and ate our sandwich during the halftime break.
Inside the ground, at the very small counters underneath the stands, the choice of food and drinks is rather poor. They serve drinks like coffee, soda and beer, and crisps, peanuts and various candy bars. I can't see how these small counters can serve 80,000 people when the stadiums is sold out.
Despite the impressive size of the San Siro, the stadium is actually very compact and the stands are steep and close to the pitch. From each position you have an excellent view on the pitch. With its four concrete towers supporting the gigantic roof structure, the San Siro is one of my favourite stadiums in Europe. All the seats inside the ground are coloured and have a backing. Each section of the ground has its own colour of seats (red, green, orange or blue). Only the Santiago Bernabeu stadium of Real Madrid can top the San Siro stadium in terms of comfort and atmosphere in my experience.
The San Siro stadium is located in the western part of the city Milan in the district of San Siro. This is a rather quiet residential area which does not have many restaurants to offer. It's better to eat in the city centre before going to the match.
At the Lotto-metro station and nearby squares you can find plenty of restaurants. There is also a McDonalds and a Chinese restaurant (Ri Xin). We decided to eat at Pizerria Don Clemente (two minutes walking from the Lotto-metro station at the Via Bianchi Mosè). It's quite a large restaurant. On the menu are various kinds of pizza, pastas, steaks and even swordfish. The pizzas are OK, but not more than that.
AC Milan supporters are very loyal. In the Serie A (top of Italian League football) they fill their stadium each match with an average of 45,000 fans. The most fanatic supporters are housed in the south section (Curva Sud) of the San Siro stadium. There are many fan groups from all over the country who support AC Milan. The most fanatic and biggest fan groups are the 'Brigata Rossenere' (Red and Black Brigade) and the 'Fossa dei Leoni' (the Lions' Den). These fans are called Ultras and are very vocal and support their club during the whole match with flags, banners and sometimes pyrotechnics.
Unfortunately, there were no pyrotechnics involved during this match as I had experienced before at my travels to Paris Saint-Germain and FC Schalke 04. The away fans are housed in a segregated section from the upper tier of the Curva Nord.
The easiest way to get from the city centre to the stadium is by metro. You need Metro M1 - red line and get off at the Lotto-metro station. After the 20 minute ride, you need to walk for another 20 minutes. You can also get a free bus transfer on match days to the stadium, but then you will miss all the people gathering and walking towards the stadium. Along this route there are many souvenir and food stalls. You can also take tram 16 from the city centre which brings you just in front of the stadium (stop Rospigliosi Axum).
You can expect a great day out at the San Siro stadium. The walk to the stadium helps to build the anticipation and overall atmosphere. Outside the stadium there is a lot of activity going on, so there is no need to get into the stadium early. The stadium itself is impressive and one of Europe's finest. We paid just 37 euro for our seat on the 2nd tier at the long side of the pitch. From here you will have a great view of the action on the field and in the Curva Sud.
The San Siro Museum is the first museum in Italy to be housed inside a stadium. In the cinema hall of the museum you can see a fascinating movie about Milan, Inter and the history of the San Siro stadium. When the ground is not use it is possible to have a guided tour around all the parts of the stadium including the museum, trophy room, dressing room and you can visit the stands. The cost of this guided tour is rather expensive as you have to pay € 14 for an adult. These daily stadium tours are given in both Italian and English. There are reduced ticket prices for this tour (and for match tickets) for children under 14 years of age and for fans who are over 65 years of age.
When you stay a couple of days in Milan for a city trip and you have seen all the highlights like Il Duomo, the Castello Sforzesco, and the Scala and you are finished shopping then consider going to the San Siro stadium. You can book a stadium tour or you can visit a football match for either AC Milan or Internazionale (or even better, for the derby match between the two). This is it where you can experience the true Italian culture. There is no doubt that after one visit, you will want to come back for more.
Member Review by Jeremy Inson on Feb 07, 2012
With a capacity of 80,000 the Stadio San Siro is Italy’s largest and most well known soccer arena and home to two giants of Calcio, Associazione Calcio di Milan, the red and black shirted Milan and the blue and black striped Internazionale di Milano, or more commonly Inter.
The stadium was built in 13 months and at a modern day cost of $4.5million. The first match to take place there was a friendly between Inter and Milan on 19 September 1926 and it was the blue and black shirted hordes that left the happier after a 6-3 win.
Initially the capacity was 35,000 but over the 20th century there were a number of extensions that eventually took the stadium’s capacity to its current total of 80,019 in preparation for Italy’s hosting of the FIFA World Cup in 1990.
In 1980 the city of Milan decided to name the stadium after Giuseppe Meazza, a former hot-shot striker for both Milan and Inter, who had died in 1979. Despite this, the vast majority of the fans making their way to the stadium refer to it as the San Siro, after the area of the city in which it is located.
Over the years both sets of supporters have made a strong case for their team to be top dogs. The 1960’s was certainly the heyday for the city, a decade in which Inter and Milan both won the European Cup twice.
Milan’s next golden period came at the end of the 1980’s when future Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s millions and Arrigo Sacchi’s coaching guided Milan to two Serie A titles and two consecutive European Cups in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s.
Sacchi handed the coach’s job onto current England boss Fabio Capello and he added a Champions League title and four Italian championships.
Throughout the years the stadium has been a home to some of the biggest names in world football. Father and son Cesare and Paolo Maldini have both lifted European Cups for Milan, while the Dutch trio of Ruud Gullit, Marco van Basten and Frank Rijkaard were at the heart of Milan’s glory years under Sacchi. Meanwhile there are still older gentlemen dressed in red and black who will swear blind that Gianni Rivera was better than either Pele or Diego Maradona.
More recently Milan’s title victory in 2011, six months after Inter had won the 2010 World Club Championship, means that those Inter and Milan fans making their way towards the San Siro will be able to continue their debate about which team is the bigger for many more years to come.
Via Bianchi Mosè, 103
Milan, Lombardy 20122
+39 (0) 24814035
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