CORPORATE sponsorship of stadiums is nothing new and is common across the globe, however when that stadium is 2000 years old and internationally recognized – Olga Leleka looks at what could be be a world-first.
Does any traveler to Rome return without an image of the Colosseum?
Be it a photograph to a refrigerator magnet. Millions have looked upon this ancient engineering marvel in awe and left with not only the image of it burned into their memory, but also with a token reminder.
Seating 50,000, the amphitheatre, used for gladiatorial battles and a diverse array of spectacles like reenacted battles, both on land and sea (it is believed the arena would be flooded with water), animal hunts, executions, and even plays.
In scale, it still rivals anything built now – almost 2000 years later.
However, the landmark Roman attraction is beginning to show its age and with the cash-strapped Italian Government unable to stump up any cash for cosmetic and reconstructive surgery, the monument’s future health looked to be in peril.
Salvation came from an unlikely quarter when, in 2010 Tod’s executive Diego Della Valle announced plans to donate €25 million, or about US$31 million, to restore the Colosseum.
Based in the Italian region of Marche, Tod’s – most famous for its driving shoes – gained approval for the deal in January. The cash will pay for a cleaning and restoration in a project anticipated to take three-years, on the condition Delle Valle does not go overboard on advertising for his products.
However, through the deal, confirmed in January, the company has won exclusive rights for the commercial use of the Colosseum’s image.
What the renovation also entails.
The restoration promises to breathe new life into the ancient relic, and will include cloakrooms and scanners for security, as well as gathering places for tourists. Centuries of heavy grime, compounded by exhaust fumes, coating the structure’s travertine marble will be cleaned off, making it appear brighter than ever before.
Previously closed areas will be open to the public including parts never before accessed by tourists including he highest tier of the amphi-theatre with views overlooking the the arena and outside across the Roman Forum to Capitoline Hill and the below- arena Hypogeum, where both animals and gladiators waited for battle.
By 2014 – the project’s completion date, and 85 percent of the structure will be open to visitors. Currently, only 15 percent can be accessed.
The restoration cannot come soon enough.
In winter, a small fragment of a frame fell away from the triumphal Arch of Emperor Konstantin and two weeks later a similar incident happened with plaster toppling from the second floor of the Colosseum after snow.
Heavy snow and low temperatures are not common to Italy, so the Colosseum was closed to visitors several times during the winter.
The restoration work is scheduled to begin later this year and could take up to two and a half years.
Booked.net doubts the number of tourists visiting Colosseum will drop due to work on the monolith, but if you are leaving for Rome to enjoy the marvelous Colosseum, you should complete your trip before the restoration starts. Otherwise, your visit may be postponed.