- Associated Press - Thursday, November 17, 2016

ROME (AP) - Roma’s long-delayed plans to build a new stadium met with more opposition from the city council’s urban planning expert on Thursday.

Speaking at a discussion over the stadium at a regional government meeting, Paolo Berdini criticized the mostly privately financed 1.6 billion euro ($1.7 billion) project for including 200 million euros (more than $200 million) in public funding.

“It’s a project that I don’t consider positive and which won’t benefit the city’s treasury,” Berdini said.

Berdini’s pronouncement comes in the same week that Roma released a university study saying the stadium would deliver nearly 20 billion euros ($21.7 billion) in additional revenues to the Italian capital over the next decade.

The new stadium was in Rome’s bid for the 2024 Olympics but the candidacy was rejected in September by Mayor Virginia Raggi over cost concerns.

“You can be certain that this vice of paying for huge projects with public debt will end forever with this administration,” Berdini said.

The proposed stadium site in Tor di Valle is about halfway between downtown and Leonardo Da Vinci Airport.

The start of construction has been delayed for years because approval for the Serie A stadium, training center, and surrounding business and entertainment park was slowed at municipal and regional levels.

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.

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 72,000-seat Stadio Olimpico with city rival Lazio.

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