Roma's long-delayed stadium plan takes positive turn

Roma's Edin Dzeko, center, celebrates with his teammates Emerson, right, and Radja Nainggolan after scoring against Crotone during an Italian Serie A soccer match in Crotone, Italy, Sunday, Feb. 12, 2017. Roma won 2-0. (Albano Angilletta/ANSA via AP)

ROME (AP) — Roma's long-delayed plans for a new stadium have taken a positive turn following a meeting with city officials.

Vice Mayor Luca Bergamo expressed his approval Tuesday over Roma's scaled-down project, which the club wants to build in Tor di Valle, halfway between downtown and Leonardo Da Vinci Airport.

Roma's general manager Mauro Baldissoni says, "We've always said we want to build this stadium together with the city. ... We've tried to understand the needs of the city council and I think we've done so."

Bergamo's support signals that the city will likely give formal approval next month.

The mostly privately financed 1.6 billion euro ($1.7 billion) project has been criticized by environmentalists for its proposed location next to the Tiber River.

With a design inspired by the Colosseum, the stadium is slated to seat 52,500 and be expandable to 60,000 for major matches. Roma currently shares the government-owned Stadio Olimpico with city rival Lazio.

James Pallotta, Roma's American president, first presented the stadium plan in March 2014, saying then that it would be ready for the 2016-17 season.

However, then-mayor Ignazio Marino acknowledged that that stadium would not open before an extensive amount of transport infrastructure was completed around the area.