Clubs: AS Roma and SS Lazio | Opening: 1953 | Capacity: 72,698 seats
History and description
Stadio Olimpico was built to serve as the centrepiece of the Foro Italia sports complex, a project initiated by the regime of Mussolini.
Construction started in 1928 and a first tier had been finished in 1932. Works on the second tier were halted though due to the outbreak of the Second World War and were only resumed in December 1950.
Stadio Olimpico officially opened on the 17th of May 1953 with a match between the national teams of Italy and Hungary. Capacity amounted to 100,000 at that time, which constituted mainly of terraces.
Stadio Olimpico served as the centrepiece stadium for the 1960 Olympics, and for this all terraces got converted into seats, resulting in a capacity of 53,000 seats. During the Games, the stadium hosted the opening and closing ceremonies, as well as the athletics competitions.
Eight years later, Stadio Olimpico was the principal venue of the Euro 1968 Championships, during which it hosted the match for third place and the final between Italy and Yugoslavia (2-0 after a replay)
Stadio Olimpico remained largely unchanged until it again was the playing venue of a European Championships, this time the tournament in 1980. It hosted three group matches and the final between West-Germany and Belgium (2-1).
In those years, it furthermore hosted twice a European Cup final: the first in 1977 between Liverpool and Borussia Mönchengladbach (3-1) and the second in 1984 between again Liverpool and AS Roma (1-1).
When Italy got awarded the 1990 World Cup, it was clear that the stadium needed a massive renovation. While initial plans only aimed to refurbish the stadium, a few redesigns later an almost complete new stadium had been built. The stands were now much closer to the pitch and the stadium had been equipped with a roof. This resulted in a capacity of 74,000 seats.
During the World Cup, Stadio Olimpico hosted all three of Italy’s group matches, Italy’s round of 16 match and quarter-final, and the final between Germany FR and Argentina (1-0).
In later years, the stadium hosted two more Champions League finals: the first in 1996 between Juventus and Ajax (1-1) and the second in 2009 between Barcelona and Manchester United (2-0).
Stadio Olimpico underwent a last refurbishment in 2007 to keep it eligible to host future Champions League finals. This included, among others, the replacement of all seats.
Both AS Roma and Lazio have at times expressed unease at playing in the much-too-large and aged CONI-owned stadium. In the mid 2000s, Lazio had plans to move to a new stadium, but these came to nothing.
AS Roma currently have concrete plans to build a new stadium, Stadio della Roma, which will have a capacity of 52,500 seats and they hope to have completed in 2021, though the project have it some setbacks recently.