Football – Switzerland’s last in Cornaredo?

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On November 28, Lugano will vote for a new sports complex. Ticino football relies heavily on getting rid of dilapidated facilities.

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Valentin Schnorhk

Lugano

The inauguration of the Cornaredo, with its stands open to the road, dates back to 1951.

fresh focus

What better campaign tool than the Swiss team? For Lugano, the arrival of the national team in Ticino is something of the best promotion possible. Or rather, a counterpromotion. By welcoming Xherdan Shaqiri & co to the Cornaredo (inaugurated in 1951), with its dilapidated changing rooms, its open stands on the road, its hideaway that doubles as a gym, the city of Ticino has found an excellent way to see the rest of the country that it leaves behind in the field of sports facilities. And many of them hope that this negative publicity will convince the Luganese people of the need to move on. The stakes are current: on November 28, Lugano has to make a decision on the construction of a new sports complex by 2026.

“The infrastructure is the same as when I played here”

Pierluigi Tami, National Teams Director

“The infrastructure is the same as when I played here,” Pierluigi Tami laughed on Monday. The director of the country teams talks about a time that the thirty-somethings cannot know. But that says a lot about the delay in this area. “The structures are inadequate today,” said Roberto Badaracco, Lugano’s deputy manager (PLR) in charge of sports. In other words, it is essential that Lugano says “Sì” to “Polo Sportivo” in order to exist at the national sporting level. “I hope that the next training camp of the Swiss team will take place in Lugano with a complex worthy of the selection,” adds the syndic Michele Foletti (of the Ticino League), who passed in the autumn, to Marco Borradori, who last August died. and be able to unite around such a project.

“An unbelievable delay”

But voting is not a formality. Local journalists, also present at the bedside of the Swiss team, get no further: “50-50”, one of them predicts. “60-40”, risks another. As said, nothing is ever acquired in Ticino. Michele Campana, FC Lugano’s Chief Operating Officer, sums up the question: “Lugano is the only city in Switzerland that has a football team, an ice hockey team, a basketball team, a volleyball team and a water polo team in the first division. But in terms of infrastructure, we run incredibly There are many reasons for this: FC Lugano went bankrupt in the early 2000s, the economic crisis of 2008 also slowed investment and the absence of a major industry such as in Biel complicates matters, not to mention that the finances of the city are in the red, the problem is that sport is a victim of this.

The project, which will be put to the vote in two and a half weeks, is therefore under discussion. The referendum is supported by the far-left (the MPS, Movement for Socialism), which denounces real estate speculation and public-private partnerships, knowing that in addition to a 10,000-seat stadium and a sports hall, two towers of commercial and administrative offices, as well as apartment buildings are planned. The MPS also had the support of representatives of the local economy (including former PLR councilor Fulvio Pelli), not exactly happy to see several administrative offices leaving the city center for the Cornaredo sector, about ten minutes north of the city.

Pressure for FC Lugano

“It is impossible to build a stadium without a private partner,” Michele Campana believes. It is the promoter HRS Real Estate, in particular at the origin of the stadiums of Biel or Saint-Gall, who carries the project. “It is the only way to invest in Ticino, and we are the last region of Switzerland that does not have a stadium of the same level,” added the leader. During the weekend of October 30 and 31, Luganese sports took part, with free entry to the meetings of the city’s main sports teams. More than 4,000 spectators were thus present to watch the match in Lugano and Servette, despite the rain.

A form of recognition for the bianconero club, which desperately needs a “Yes” in the polls. “The Swiss football league is putting us under pressure, and that’s right,” explains Michele Campana. Otherwise we risk relegation. We can only play at Cornaredo because there is a project behind it. Otherwise the stadium will not meet the standard. It is therefore a very important moment for us.” Especially since Lugano was bought this summer by American billionaire Joe Mansueto (who also owns the Chicago Fire, in MLS) and he has big ambitions per se. Can he withdraw if the Luganese people refuse? “The owner trusts the citizens and is optimistically waiting for the decision,” said Campana. At the moment there is in any case no plan B. Work must then be done urgently. No doubt a refusal would delay the project by adding uncertainty. But I don’t think he would give up.”

In any case, the acceptance reassured everyone. Also the Swiss Football Association. “Switzerland needs this new stadium,” emphasizes Pierluigi Tami. Because unfortunately the current reality is that we cannot play as it is in Lugano. It is essential for professional football.” And for Ticino this has been forgotten forever.

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