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Why do AC Milan and Inter Milan share San Siro stadium?

Why do AC Milan and Inter Milan share San Siro stadium? Find out more in the article below…

Many clubs around the world who come from the same city, share the same stadium. One country, though, has more than its fair share of football clubs that share a stadium in the same city.

It is of course, Italy, with clubs like Roma and Lazio sharing the Stadio Olimpico and Genoa and Sampdoria sharing the Stadio Luigi Ferraris Stadium as well.

However, the most famous example of this practice in Italy, and possibly the world, is the sharing of the San Siro Stadium between AC Milan and Inter Milan. But why do two of Europe's biggest football clubs share a stadium? Let's find out.

San Siro
Photo by Icon Sport

The History of the San Siro

The construction of the San Siro started in 1925 and was named after the district it was being built in. It was the idea of AC Milan president, Piero Pirelli.

The stadium itself was to be built as a private construction, and only used for football purposes, as opposed to many other Italian stadia at the time which had running tracks around the football pitch and were multi sports venues.

The first game took place on 19 September 1926 when AC Milan took on Inter Milan in front of 35,000 spectators. Inter Milan spoiled the party for the hosts, winning the game 6-3.

At the time, the stadium belonged to AC Milan, and they were the sole occupants of the venue as Inter played their home games at the Arena Civica. The ownership of the stadium itself was then transferred from AC Milan to the Municipality of Milan in 1935. In 1947, Inter became joint tenants of the stadium with their city rivals, primarily out of necessity. There were few alternative options available.

The stadium grew over the years, and during the years between 1948 to 1955, there were plans to increase the capacity from 50,000 to 150,000. This never materialised and after more reconstruction works and planning were made, they had to settle for a capacity of 60,000.

San Siro was soon officially called the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza after the former Inter and AC Milan player, who twice won the World Cup with the Italian national team.

It is still named that to this day, however, due to Giuseppe's Meazza's stronger connections to Inter Milan (playing for the Nerazzurri for a total of 14 years and managing them on three separate occasions), many Milan fans continue to refer to the stadium as the San Siro. As it is, most football fans worldwide also refer to the stadium as the San Siro as well.

The last major renovation to the stadium was made just before the 1990 World Cup, hosted by Italy. It increased the stadium's capacity to 85,000, with a cover being attached to the stadium as well. It wasn't until 1996 that a museum was opened inside the stadium, celebrating both AC Milan and Inter Milan's successes and trophies.

Why do AC Milan and Inter Milan Share the Stadium?

San Siro demolition | Latest news
Photo by Icon Sport

Before both sides decided to ground share, Inter Milan played at the Arena Civica, an exceptionally old venue that was opened way back on the 18th August 1807.

The venue was initially used for various sports and entertainment events before it was primarily used for football. Home to Inter Milan from the year of their founding in 1908, the Avrena Civica also played host to the first ever international match involving Italy, who played France on 15 May 1910, a game that resulted in a 6-3 victory to Italy.

But, in 1947, Inter Milan left their first home, meaning a ground share with their big rivals materialised. The reason? Simple, really. It was convenient for both clubs to do so. Of course, there were other factors for the decision as well.

Both for financial reasons and logistical reasons, the two clubs put their rivalry aside to share the home so both clubs can benefit from it. The San Siro is situated in the centre of Milan, making it easily accessible to both sets of fans, while sharing costs makes it a no-brainer for both clubs to share the venue.

The other reason cited for the ground share is the lack of alternatives to have another big stadium in the area that would be suitable for either club, with the Arena Civica was being a suitable venue for Inter anymore as it was located in downtown Milan and less convenient for fans. It also only had a maximum capacity of 30,000 at the time, and even then that was a stretch as the stadium itself was in poor condition.

The Arena Civic was more recently used as the home ground for another football club in Milan, Brera Calcio, who used it in the early 2000s when the venue was reopened.

ICONSPORT sipausa 48143900
Photo by Icon Sport

Are there plans for another ground to be built for either Milan club?

In June 2019, AC Milan and Inter Milan announced plans to build a new stadium to replace the San Siro.  It was met with widespread criticism from both sets of fans, and other football fans worldwide due to the historic relevance that the San Siro brings to the footballing world.

The stadium was to be built right beside the current San Siro stadium, which was to be demolished, and it was thought the new structure was to cost $800 million and would have a reduced capacity of 60,000, compared to the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, which currently has a maximum capacity of 80,018.

Two plans were proposed and designed by architectural companies Populous and MANICA and were realised by both clubs in September 2019. Despite people calling for the demolition of the San Siro, plans still went ahead, and the Populous proposal and design were selected and announced in December 2021.

However, with a completion date set for the newly named ‘Nuovo Stadio Milano' to be built and ready by the 2022-23 season, the plans never came to pass. In August 2023, the Lombardy Regional Cultural Heritage Commission deemed the San Siro worthy of protection, meaning the famous old ground will continue to play host to both Milan clubs for the foreseeable future. Read more on Football Ground Guide here.

Philip O'Rourke

Philip O Rourke is a Dublin-based journalist and author of Forgotten Football Clubs, 50 Clubs Around the World. He appears on the Forgotten Football Clubs podcast and, in his spare time, travels around Europe to different football stadiums, trying to watch as many different clubs as he can.

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