La Gazzetta last week reported that AC Milan had broken the record for gate receipts at San Siro.
An official attendance of 75,532 assembled for the Champions League Semi-Final against city rivals Inter, yielding revenues in excess of €10m. Furthermore, Inter are set to break the record again in the return leg.
It is an admirable landmark for a stadium that has its last rites read on a regular basis.
Yet those numbers could have been even greater, had it not been for six sectors of the stadium – amounting to 2,350 seats – that have been closed to the public since 2019. These fallow sectors can be spotted high up in the third tier, behind each goal.
Beloved, but weather-worn, anyone who has visited the San Siro recently will attest to the fact that, thirty years on from its last overhaul, the venue is looking frayed at the edges. Both Milan and Inter have made clear their intentions to leave the stadium in the near future.
Alarmist footage has also circulated on social media showing rhythmic movement in the stadium’s structure during recent matches. Adding all of this together, you may reasonably presume that the closure of the six sectors was a step taken on public safety grounds. But you’d only be half-right.
Writing for L’Ultimo Uomo, Antonio Cunazza (@archistadia) explains that there are no safety concerns associated with the structure itself. Although disconcerting for the uninitiated, it is essential to understand that vibrations and “elasticity” within construction materials are crucial architectural properties. It is precisely this which lends stability to the structure.
There is even an argument that San Siro is amongst the safest edifices in all of Italy. It is monitored on a constant basis by 48 sensors, which feed data to experts at Milan Polytechnic on the performance of the steel and concrete components. This ensures that the technical limits of the materials are not breached.
The hard evidence is clear; there has been no deterioration in the performance data since regular monitoring began in 2006.
So why would the sectors be closed?
It’s fundamentally a question of perception and the rational limits of the human mind.
The concern is that primal flight instincts could take hold amongst the crowd in the event of significant vibrations. Whilst there is no risk to the stadium itself, a contagious stampede for the exits would clearly constitute a risk to public safety.
The middle sectors of the upper tier are both furthest from the exit, but also the part of the stadium that experiences the greatest reverberations, hence the Municipality’s decision to close those sectors.
Antonio concludes, “The decision to close the sectors of the third ring is the unfortunate result of a reality that bends to sensationalism: it solves nothing but adapts to the common perception.”
Thanks for reading! Also, check out our account of a visit to the Milan Derby back in 2018.