Sonja Missio Date:19th February 2013 at 9:39am
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Udinese’s home stadium, Stadio Friuli, is to undergo a complete reconstruction beginning this spring. This article will give a virtual tour of the new facility and highlight the changes, additions, and improvements that have been confirmed to take place to the home of the Little Zebras.

Background on the Current Stadio Friuli

The present Stadio Friuli opened in 1976 as a replacement for the Stadio Moretti, which previously housed the team from 1919 until 1976 (it was eventually demolished in 1988).

By the mid-1970s, the 25,000-seat Stadio Moretti was no longer big enough to hold Udinese spectators, and so the Stadio Friuli was designed—by architect Lorenzo Giacomuzzi Moore and structural engineer Giuliano Parmegian—as a larger capacity, modernized, multi-sport, facility. Its construction took five years to complete and has since undergone a second renovation in preparation as a selected venue for the 1990 World Cup.

Currently owned by the municipality of Udine, the current Stadio Friuli has a capacity of over 30,000 and a uniquely stunning view of the surrounding Alps.

Background on the New Stadio Friuli

Udinese recently officially obtained the rights to the Stadio Friuli from the City of Udine—to be owned by the club for the next 99 years—and construction is set to begin in the spring of 2013. Costing approximately €30 million, the stadium is expected to take 16 months to complete. Machinery like the Caterpillar D9 may be required in order to ensure that such a project would be successful.

The Udinese’s official website states that the main object for the new stadium is to create a modern, safe, and sustainable stadium for anyone who uses the facilities.  According to owner Giampaolo Pozzo, “we want to get our fans away from their televisions and bring them to the stadium to support the players.”

In other words, the new stadium is to focus on the fan experience and how they can better integrate with their club, bringing them closer to the game. While the stadium will hold a smaller capacity—seating will be limited from 30,000 to 25,000—fans will actually be able to become more incorporated in the atmosphere of the game.

A running track that currently surrounds the pitch— creating a barrier between the Zebrette and the fans—will be removed and spectators will be brought closer to the pitch.

According to the Udinese website, this is to create a reciprocal relationship where “the spectator from the stands will have the feeling of being on the pitch and the athlete will feel the presence and support of his fans.” The purpose of the new stadium is to focus on the 12th man.

Design of the New Stadio Friuli

The new stadium will not only have a new attitude from the current Stadio Friuli, but it will also be architecturally different by design as well.

However, one of the most important and distinguishing features of the stadium will remain the same: the Stadio Friuli arc.

The arc, described by the club as “[rising] from the earth but not touching the sky, folds in on itself, in defense of those around us below. Not a bridge to the clouds, but a shell to protect the men,” will be a key feature of the new stadium and a main point of the architectural design. The club enforces the idea that the new stadium should be thought “closer to the architectural concept of an amphitheater, a place entertainment and celebration of sporting events” rather than just another soccer stadium.

Aesthetics will play as an important as a role to the stadium as function.

Additional Features of the New Stadio Friuli

The new stadium will hold 25,000 for Udinese games and will be expandable to over 30,000 for other major events, such as concerts. Ironically, the new stadium will be limiting its seating capacity to the same amount of the original Stadio Moretti, which was considered too small for Udinese around half a decade ago.

It will also have all the features of a modern sports stadium including gymnasiums and rehabilitation clinics. Renovations are also taking place on pitch level, which include a new drainage and irrigation system, as well as a heating system to prevent freezing in colder weather.

While specific details of internal stadium features have not yet been released in detail, the club has already promised free Wi-Fi to be offered within the stadium during matches to help the fans stay connected during games, which will assist in Udinese’s current campaign for a more prominent social media presence.

Other new additions will better assist with fan safety, including adding an additional number of turnstiles to accommodate efficiently entering and exiting the stadium as well as a whole new video surveillance system to be installed for added security.

The new stadium will also focus on being environmentally sustainable. According to Spazio Mondo, a sport and architecture magazine, renovations will include the installation of a photovoltaic system on the roof which, “will produce approximately one million kWh of electricity, enough to light the facility providing electricity savings of 20%.”

More Information on the New Stadio Friuli

All of the above mentioned, as well as plans, schematics, and conceptual drawings, can be found on Udinese’s official website, however, information is currently only available in Italian.

Pozzo may not always invest his money in the club when it comes to players, but he is certainly a part of investing in the club’s new home. With the new stadium set to become a reality in just under two years, the Zebrette should be looking towards their future on becoming a more consistent dominant presence in Serie A.