Stuart Weir is one of my favorite human beings. Last year, when I had to deal with my heart deciding it needed tender love from UW hospital, Stuart hit the Diamond League, European Champs and many other places, writing over 150 pieces.
He loves the athletes, and our sport and that affection comes out in his writing
This is his comments on Rome’s Stadio Olimpico, and the move to Milano in 2020 and 2021 as the Stadio gets a face lift.
The Diamond League venues are many and varied. The oldest is the (1912) Olympic Stadium in Stockholm. The newest, is the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha. The Bislett Stadium has sold out for the first time in 54 years for next week but the stadium only holds 14,000. A full stadium creates a great atmosphere. With bigger arenas like Rome, London and Doha, on the other hand, a crowd of 15,000 can look lost in a stadium that holds 50,000 or more.
I love the Olympic Stadium in Rome in all but one respect. The name comes from being the venue of the 1960 Olympics. Originally the 1953 stadium held 100,000 but that was reduced to 65,000 in the 1960 revamp. The stadium’s current capacity is 70,634.
It hosted the 1990 Soccer World Cup and several European Cup or Champions League finals as well as international rugby and soccer. AS Roma and SS Lazio, Rome’s two top soccer clubs use the stadium. It is a popular concert venue with Bruce Springsteen, U2 and BeyoncÃ© among those who have featured.
It has a great pedigree for track and field, hosting its first Golden Gala in 1980. It has hosted World Championship, European Championship and Olympic Athletics
The architecture is magnificent. The warm-up area is surrounded by statues to inspire the athletes. Dina Asher-Smith in her first visit to the stadium said: “It is a really nice stadium. It felt like a championship. I wasn’t expecting it to be so big. Every Diamond League is different. Here the crowd was very loud, very involved and it was a fun event”.
And if you are wondered what I don’t like, it is the distance to the mixed zone. The view from the press seats in the top of the stadium is magnificent but it is a good 5 minute walk to interview an athlete. This means one often has to go to Rome to watch the athletics on TV.
All this leads into saying that in June 2020, the Stadio Olimpico Roma is hosting some of the European Soccer Championships and the Golden Gala is moving 350 miles north to the Arena di Milano in Milan.