Stadio Via del Mare
|Owner||Municipality of Lecce|
|Opened||11 September 1966|
The Stadio Ettore Giardiniero - Via del Mare is a multi-purpose stadium in Lecce, Italy. It is mostly used for football matches and is the home of U.S. Lecce. The stadium was built in 1966 and holds 40,670. It takes its name from the street leading to the sea.
Built by Costantino Rozzi, the Via del Mare was inaugurated on September 11, 1966, during a friendly between U.S. Lecce and Spartak Moscow. The stadium replaced the old Stadio Carlo Pranzo, which was named after a young soldier from Lecce killed in the First World War. On October 2 of that year, the first match between teams from Italy was played with Lecce beating local rivals Taranto one-nil. In 1967 Lecce played a friendly against famous Pelé's Santos here.
The initial capacity was 16,000 spectators. In 1976, the capacity was increased to 20,500 seats. With the historic first promotion of Lecce to Serie A in 1985 the stadium was almost completely rebuilt and capacity greatly increased to 55,000. Both the Curva Nord, now the terrace of the organized fan groups led by the Ultrà Lecce, and Curva Sud, where Gioventù are based were rebuilt. The tribuna and Distinti were also upgraded and then, to ensure that all seats were numbered, capacity was reduced to the current 40,670 seats.
The seats are colored red and yellow (the colours of U.S. Lecce) and on the Tribuna Est is an inscription of "U.S. Lecce". After this almost total renovation, the stadium in Lecce, along with the Stadio Friuli in Udine, was the only stadium ready for the 1990 FIFA World Cup. However the funding for a venue allocated to the region of Apulia went to the Stadio San Nicola in Bari, which caused some controversy.
During the first day of the Serie B 2007-08 championship, the press room of the stadium was named after the local journalist Sergio Vantaggiato, who died in tragic circumstances in August 2007. The plaque was presented by his son, Martino, in the presence of various local authorities, the management of U.S. Lecce and some journalists of different newspapers.
On November 1, 2007, during a regular training session, lightning struck the ground and killed Antonio De Giorgi, an U.S. Lecce equipment manager.
The stadium hosted a speech by Pope John Paul II in 1994.
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