San Siro – the world famous giant from Milan

Milan - San Siro / G. MeazzaMilan - San Siro / G. Meazza 28.05.2016: The San Siro stadium is the home of both AC Milan and Inter Milan. However, the Inter Milan fans call it the Giuseppe Meazza stadium. So let’s have a closer look at this giant stadium. San Siro, or Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, has an almost ideal location for a stadium – it is close to the city centre. You can reach the stadium by a bus, trolleybus, tram or underground several times a day. This means that every match played at San Siro is attended by tens of thousands of fans.

San Siro is a stadium with long history. The foundation stone of the entire project, which was initiated by the then President of AC Milan, Piero Pirelli, was laid in 1925. The stadium was designed by Ulisse Stacchini, an accomplished architect, who also designed e.g. the Milan train station. When it was built, the stadium could hold a crowd of 35,000 people, who could watch the game from four stands. The construction of the stadium was completed in 1926, and it cost five million lira (corresponding to 3,5 million EURO).
  The grand opening ceremony took place on 19 September 1926 and on the occasion, AC Milan lost to Inter Milan 3-6, Inter was then the visiting team. The first league match took place at the stadium on 6 October 1926, and AC Milan lost again, this time to Sampierdarenese – the final score was 1-2. San Siro hosted the first international match on 20 February 1927, and it was an exhibition match between the national teams of Italy and Czechoslovakia and ended in a tie 2-2.

In the 1940s, Italy went through a period of football boom. First, Squadra Azzurra won the 1934 World Cup, which was held in Italy, defeating Austria in semi-finals and Czechoslovakia in finals – the score of the match was 2-1 in overtime. In 1938 Italy retained the World Champions title by winning the World Cup held in France. But let’s get back. The first major alteration to the stadium was made in 1935, when AC Milan decided to sell the stadium to the city of Milan. In 1938, following a growing interest in football, the city council decided to renovate the stadium and enlarge its capacity. The renovation cost 5.1 million lira, but the city got the invested money back really fast. For example, the organizers raised an unbelievable sum of 1.2 million lira from selling tickets to the match between Italy and England (2-2); the amount represented 1/5 of the invested sum.

Until 1945 the stadium was the exclusive home of AC Milan. But in 1945 the arch rival of the Rossoneri – Inter Milan – moved in to the San Siro stadium, which was then renamed Stadio Giuseppe Meazza. Although Meazza used to play for both Milan clubs, he still played 328 matched more for the black-blue team. Therefore, it is no wonder that the fans of AC Milan did not fall for the new name and insist on calling the stadium San Siro till this day.

The stadium was again renovated and modernized in 1954, the renovation works took a year. The San Siro stadium was then re-opened, this time with enlarged capacity of 85,000. In 1957 modern spotlights were installed at the stadium, thus making it possible to play late evening matches there. Ten years later, the first modern electrical scoreboards were added.

Another and, for now, the last renovation was done in 1989/1990 on the occasion of the upcoming 1990 World Cup. In the course of the renovation works, the eleven concrete towers, now so typical of San Siro, were built. The stadium capacity was set to 85,700, and 256 spotlights were installed on the roof.

During the 1990 World Cup the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza in Milan, together with the Stadio Olimpico in Rome, hosted most of the matches, six in total. Apart from others, it also hosted the semi-final match between Germany and Czechoslovakia, which the Czechoslovaks lost 0-1.

Like other big European stadiums, San Siro hosted many other, often historic, events. For example, the stadium hosted a boxing match between Duilio Loi and Carlos Ortiz. This spectacular match, in which Loi won the world champion title, was followed by 53,000 people at the stadium. Many famous musicians also performed at the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza. On 27 June 1980 Italy was visited by the Jamaican musician Bob Marley, whose concert was attended by an incredible number of 90,000 people! Other successful concerts were given by Bruce Springsteen in 1985, The Rolling Stones in 2003, and others. In 2013 Bon Jovi will perform at the San Siro stadium. In November 2009 the team of New Zealand played there, but instead of football players the visitors could watch rugby players, who defeated the team of Italy 20-6.

However, San Siro is not only a football stadium. You can also find there a museum and a cinema. Financed from a private collection of Onorato Arisi, the museum was opened on 5 October 1996. There, the visitors can learn more about the history of the stadium and both Milan clubs – Inter Milan as well as AC Milan. Apart from various historical jerseys, scarves and paintings, it also holds 24 life-size statues. In the cinema, which is a part of the museum, the visitors can watch a movie about AC Milan, Inter Milan and the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza.

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