Clubs: AC Milan and FC Internazionale | Opening: 1926 | Capacity: 80,018 seats
History and description
Stadio San Siro was a project of former AC Milan president Piero Pirelli. In the first two decades of the 20th century, Milan had already occupied various grounds, and by the early 1920s played at a ground at the Viale Lombardia.
Though a perfectly fine ground, it soon turned out to be too small for the club’s growing number of fans, and therefore architect Stacchini, also responsible for Milan’s central station, was hired to design a complete new stadium.
Stadio San Siro officially opened on 19 September 1926 with a friendly between Milan and Inter (3-6). The stadium initially consisted of four separate stands and could hold 35,000 spectators.
San Siro was first owned by AC Milan, but was sold to the city of Milan in 1935, who were soon forced too enlarge the stadium due to the club’s increasing popularity.
Plans were made for a massive stadium for 150,000 spectators, but these were in the end significantly scaled down. The redeveloped San Siro opened in 1939, and consisted of one fully enclosed tier.
Until 1945, Milan had been the sole occupant of San Siro, but were then joined by Inter, who had before played at the Arena Civica.
San Siro got further expanded in 1955 when a second tier got built on top of the first one, which resulted in a capacity of about 85,000 places.
In the following decades, San Siro hosted two European Cup finals: the first in 1965 between Inter and Benfica (1-0), and the second in 1970 between Feyenoord and Celtic (2-1).
The stadium had earlier gotten ignored as a playing venue for the 1968 European Championships, but did get selected for Euro 1980. At the same time it got officially renamed Stadio Guiseppe Meazza, in honour of the ex-player of both Inter and Milan.
During the 1980 European championships, San Siro hosted three first round group matches.
Soon after, Italy got awarded the 1990 World Cup, and it became clear that San Siro was in need of a major upgrade. The option of building a new stadium was contemplated, but architects Ragazzi, Hoffer, and Finzi instead chose for an ambitious redevelopment plan.
Works included the construction of a third tier, a roof that would cover all seats, and eleven cylindrical concrete towers around the stadium to support the extra tier and roof structure. The resulting capacity was 85,700 seats.
During the World Cup, San Siro hosted the opening match between Argentina and Cameroon (0-1), three further group matches, a round of 16 match, and the quarter-final between Germany FR and Czechoslovakia (1-0).
The stadium got further refurbished in later years, and capacity reduced slightly due to UEFA safety requirements. In 2001, it hosted the Champions League final between Bayern München and Valencia (1-1) and in 2016 the final between Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid (1-1).
Both Milan and Inter have looked at building a new stadium elsewhere, having found themselves constrained in their development due to the deteriorated state of the stadium and ownership by the city of Milan. Inter was the first to announce plans to build a new club-owned stadium in 2012, but shelved these when Milan revealed concrete plans to build a new stadium in the Portello area, instead opting to renovate San Siro. However, Milan’s move fell through in 2015 and future plans of both clubs are currently unclear.