Wanny Di Filippo, owner of the women’s club Il Bisonte Firenze in Italy’s top league, is building his team a new 5,000 seat arena and sports center. The $7 million Euro ($8.6 million USD) arena has begun construction, but local regulations require that they dig an 80 meter (262 foot) hole, delaying the hoped opening of at least the practice facility for this season.
“They are drilling the ground, which must be explored up to 80 meters underground,” Di Fillippo said. “I hoped that the bureaucratic process was leaner, but unfortunately I have to be content to see that at least work has begun.”
The new arena, in west Florence, will replace the Nelson Mandela forum as the team’s host. The Mandela Forum opened in 1985 and was renovated in 2004 and served as the home of the men’s basketball club Pool Firenze Basket before they were relegated in 2009. It has since played home to a number of touring competitions, but has had no other permanent tenant besides the current women’s volleyball residents.
In spite of having one of the larger arenas in the Serie A women’s league, the team has never drawn more than 5,000 fans, leaving the arena usually half-full-or-less. Imoco Volley Conegliano leagues the league in attendance this season, holding 8 of the 10-highest attended matches this season. That includes 5,344 in the 10th round of play when they lost 3-2 to Igor Gorgonzola Novara. Imoco is also in 1st place with 1 regular-season game remaining. Firenze ranks 8th with 26 points (8-13 win/loss record). With a 3-point margin over 9th-place Pomi Casalmaggiore, they’re assured of a spot in the playoff. They’ll need a full-point win, combined with a no-point Pesaro loss and some favorable tie-breakers, to avoid a first-round matchup against Comegliano.