Published on December 4th, 2017 | by Bill
Home Again – Stadio Filadelfia Torino
The rebuilding of the Stadio Filadelfia means that Torino fans can feel at home again, after twenty years of waiting.
Nobody could’ve predicted it on that morning of April 10, 1998. Not even the most committed Torino FC fan. Nineteen years ago cranes and bulldozers made their way inside the Stadio Filadelfia, to begin the demolition of the historic Italian ground. An irreversible decision, following years of talks, announcements and plans all but followed by serious actions.
This year, though, the Stadio Filadelfia has seen light again. Against all odds, rebuilt and reborn from its own ashes, it will now stand again as the home of “granata” people.
It’s not easy to describe the importance of the existent bond between this ground and Torino fans. The “Fila” (as it’s nicknamed) has always been a place for the people, very much beyond its football purpose. A place telling stories of sporting heroes, teaching young lads to identify themselves with some higher values, making people feel united as a family.
After being condemned in 1994, and demolished in 1998, the Stadio Filadelfia shared the same fate as Torino FC, a club that went through bad managements, uncertainty and even bankruptcy in 2005. But the fans were stronger than that. Although the team were struggling and local institutions uninterested, the granata people kept on fighting to have their stadium back.
The reason is the Stadio Filadelfia perfectly shows what the football/religion analogy really means for Torino fans. And in 2008, when the Trust to manage the redevelopment proposal was founded, that aim started to become reality.
Last May 25, nineteen years after the demolition of the old ground, and a year and a half on from the laying of the first stone, the Stadio Filadelfia officially opened again. “We’re back home” stood proudly on banners and flags on the day. Dozens of supporters brought in tears entered the ground, clearly showing what it meant to them. Former Torino legends told stories from their playing days, and when some local U-14 teams went on the pitch to play football for the first time since mid-90s, it really rolled back the years for many.
What we have now is a new ground, smaller than the original, maybe architecturally different from it. But it doesn’t really matter as the important thing is it now stands there again.
Torino FC first team have just came back here too and, from now on, they’ll use the ground as their training centre. Fans’ hope is it will mean as much as it did in the 40’s with the Grande Torino of Valentino Mazzola, in the 70’s with Paolo Pulici and Claudio Sala or in the early 90’s with coach Mondonico and captain Cravero. A ground that can literally win you some points week in week out.
This is a place that perfectly epitomizes football’s identity. It’s a sacred location for Torino fans, venerated through the years even when it was left in ruins. Now it’s been rebuilt, thanks to fans’ obstinacy and strong efforts, and it’s ready to be the core of granata values again. The Stadio Filadelfia has been gifted to the town once more and its glorious journey can finally resume.
Written for STAND by Antonio Canazza.