In the last 12 years, I have had the privilege of seeing both of my favorite sports teams open the doors to brand new stadiums that everybody wants to proclaim their love for. They both took years to build, but in their short period of existence, have captured the pure essence of each team that inhibits them.
But since this is a Juventus blog, I'm sure not many of you care too much about baseball and the beautiful bay-side ballpark I've spent many of days over the last decade at. (But come on, you gotta admit that setting is absolutely gorgeous.) Because of that, I'll keep it to Juventus Stadium only. Or at least try my best to do so.
Today, Sept. 8, is the one-year anniversary of Juventus Stadium officially opening its doors to the public. If Juventus Stadium was a baby, it would probably be a spoiled as hell and need two rooms in its house just for all of the extra presents because of everything wonderful that has happened in its 12 months of existence. But because it's, ya know, a stadium, that obviously not the case.
In this one year, Juventus has gone from a club that coming of consecutive seventh-place finishes in Serie A to current Scudetto holders. That's one hell of a ride. And Juventus Stadium has been one of the brightest spots of all during the past 365 days.
When Andrea Agnelli declared "Welcome home" to the tifosi at the inauguration, you knew he meant it. The man knows Juve as well as anybody, so when he said those words, there was nothing but complete seriousness behind it.
Juventus Stadium was designed to be Juve's fortress. It turned out to be exactly that.
Juventus Stadium was designed to be a place that is the definition of 'home field advantage.' It turned out to be exactly that — and more.
Juventus Stadium was, as Agnelli said, designed to write a new chapter in the club's glorious history. It's doing just that.
You get the point.
But all of this ... for a stadium?
Yes, for a stadium.
Stadiums that are as nice as the one we watch Juve plays at half the time every season are quite rare. How many times in Europe, let alone Italy, can say they have a stadio that even rivals the one that Juventus has? Few. Very, very few.
A stadium, in a very unique way, takes the personality of those that are not only there to watch, but those who play on the field that is surrounded by the thousand upon thousand of seats. I've seen it happen in San Francisco since AT&T Park opened in 2000 and the same thing is happening in Torino. Both are models of modern technology and 21st century amenities — most notably, those fancy luxury boxes and top-notch restaurants — but give the old-school kind of feel, which make sense since both teams are enriched such a great history.
Further confirmation of this? Just ask those who also see it as their home.
Juventus players loving playing there. Honestly, how many times do we hear a Juve player saying that the crowd's support gave them a boost in strength/passion/whatever? Sure, the actual people filling those seats have a lot to do with it. But they aren't there just to be there. They aren't there just to sit on their backside and twiddle their thumbs for two hours. They sing for Alessandro Del Piero, Gigi Buffon, and Antonio Conte on a regular basis. They are there to experience everything that a Juventus game has to offer.
And for one whole year — and counting — those who attend a Juventus game haven't seen a Serie A loss.
Juventus Stadium is where Juventini come from all over the world to watch their beloved Old Lady play some calcio. It is where, for a lot of us, we only get to see Juve play a few times in our lifetime. And for many others, it is a place that we may never get to see in person and only admire from afar.
But regardless of where you are, Juventus Stadium is "our home." There is no denying that.
That is what makes it so special.
I'll leave you with this video of a few guys you may know a few sentences below the one you have just read. It's pretty damn interesting to listen to what Del Piero said then and look back on it a year later. After everything that has taken place at the stadio since it saw its inauguration, its first win, its first Scudetto.
May it just be the beginning.
And don't you worry. They will be chanting "c'e solo un capitano" for ADP again.