In northeast Italy, American lawyer Joe Tacopina has quietly been rebuilding Venezia into a club capable of reclaiming its place back in Serie A. Venezia were relegated from Italy’s top flight in 2002 and have since been declared bankrupt on three occasions (2005, 2009, 2015), but the former Roma and Bologna director has an ambitious project in mind which includes building a new stadium.
Tacopina explained his plans to La Gazzetta dello Sport, and revealed that he has an innovative idea for the stadium that will showcase Venice’s famous glass industry. “The Luigi Penzo stadium is a historic ground, but it’s obsolete. The plans for the new stadium are already ready. It will be fantastic, the roof on the stands will be made of Murano glass. The mayor Luigi Brugnaro is behind me, because he has this city’s welfare at heart and knows that the construction of the new stadium will create 10,000 new jobs.”
In an interview with La Nuova Venezia last November, Tacopina also outlined the projected timeline for the project. “Ideally for us, we’ll be in our new stadium by 2019,” he revealed, “but I don’t want to say too much more on that, although I can assure you we’re working day after day on this.”
The stadium is just part of Tacopina’s wider project. Currently on course for promotion to Serie B – they are challenging Parma, another club rising from the ashes of bankruptcy, in the Lega Pro – Tacopina’s vision is to take the Neroverdi back to Italy’s top flight.
“When I bought the club there was no enthusiasm, nor was there any sort of long-term plan to improve the club. We were starting from scratch, we moved our headquarters and started to work night and day. We’ve revolutionised everything and brought together a top management team: Filippo Inzaghi as the coach, Giorgio Perinetti as the sporting director.
“Then we looked at the squad, and brought top quality players to Venice. Now the squad is full of excellent players, some of whom have experience of playing in Serie A. Our aim is to get into Serie A. Not just that, but to challenge at the top. My dream is to win the scudetto.”
Tacopina has been able to create such a presence in the United States that an official supporters club has already opened in New York. The Banter Bar in Williamsburg, Brooklyn will host the VFC NYC Official Supporters Club and show all of Venezia’s matches for the rest of the season as they aim to win promotion – the first step in Tacopina’s ambitious project.