Footy ground boosted capacity to 55,000 just for World Cup – but wasn’t selected

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    The important business of stadium selection for the 2030 World Cup and 2032 European Championships is underway, seeing fans across the globe wondering what ground they may visit, and locals wondering if their stadium and cities will be picked.

    And in the case of Lecce, disappointment came after their Stadio Via del mare was snubbed in place of Apulia rivals Bari. The 1990 World Cup in Italy saw each of the 12 stadiums selected in different regions of the country.

    The Apulia region, in the south-east heel of mainland Italy, saw the area’s two biggest football clubs go head-to-head for the honours of being a host venue. But it was the region’s capital of Bari that was awarded hosting rights despite having a smaller ground.

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    Bari’s 51,426 capacity Stadio San Nicola was controversially named as Apulia’s representation to the competition after the ground was opened earlier in the same year as the World Cup. Seeing Lecce’s redevelopment of their home to 55,000 in time for the World Cup completely overlooked.

    Both Lecce and Bari still play at their respective grounds, although with Lecce only recently returning to Serie A, the Via del mare’s capacity is currently only at 31,000.

    What was your favourite Italia ‘90 host stadium? Let us know in the comments section.

    While Bari’s ground has seen a capacity rise to 58,270, but the club now play in Serie B after previously dropping to Serie D in the 2018/19 season when the club were excluded and renamed SSC Bari due to financial reasons. The stadium still continues to host national games, recently hosting Italy vs Malta earlier this month.

    The Stadio San Nicola was the 5th highest capacity ground at the tournament behind Milan’s San Siro, Rome’s Stadio Olimpico, Turin’s Stadio delle Alpi and Naples’ Stadio San Paolo. Major work ahead of the competition saw the San Siro, Stadio Olimpico and Stadio San Paolo all undergo redevelopment work.

    While Juventus and Torino’s former shared home of the Stadio delle Alpi was built in 1990 for the World Cup before it was demolished in 2009. The site now hosts Juventus’ smaller Juventus Stadium, with Torino returning to the Stadio Olimpico in Turin that was left abandoned following the building of the Stadio delle Alpi.

    • Serie A
    • World Cup

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