MILAN May 10 Bergamo-based Atalanta joined the exclusive club of Serie A teams who own their own stadium when their offer for the Stadio Atleti Azzurri d'Italia was accepted on Wednesday.
The city government said in a statement that Atalanta had agreed to pay 8.6 million euros ($9.35 million), 10 percent more than the initial asking price, for the ageing ground which was first opened in 1928 and is in need of modernisation.
Atalanta became the fourth of the 20 current Serie A sides to own their stadium alongside Juventus, Udinese and Sassuolo. Most of the remainder play in municipally-owned stadiums including AC Milan and Inter Milan who share the San Siro.
Bergamo’s city government said the terms of the sale included a clause that the stadium, which has a capacity of 26,500 and is mostly uncovered, must be redeveloped within the next six years.
The public ownership of stadiums in Italy means that clubs are unable to modernise their facilities and make money from mega-stores, restaurants and music events, unlike their English and German counterparts.
AS Roma are currently planning their own 52,000-capacity stadium while AC Milan and Inter Milan both agree an alternative is needed to the current setup at the San Siro.
Turin-based Juventus have flourished since replacing the over-sized Stadio delle Alpi, regarded as soulless by the club's fans, with the smaller and more compact Juventus Stadium on the same site in 2011.
Juve have won five successive Serie A titles since opening the stadium and recently enjoyed a run of 33 successive home league wins.
Atalanta, who have never won Serie A, are fifth in the table this season and well placed to qualify for the Europa League. ($1 = 0.9200 euros) (Writing by Brian Homewood in Berne; Editing by Toby Davis)