Reactor

Commercialism Fears Plague Colosseum Restoration

by Alexander Cavaluzzo on January 16, 2012

Rome wasn’t built in a day and it’s taking even longer to restore. Marred by age, pollution and a poorly placed subway line, the Roman Colosseum’s restoration was supposed to be funded by Diego Della Valle, the president and chief executive of the Italian shoe firm Tod’s, but legal troubles and protests may force the shoe designer to rescind his €25 million offer.

Della Valle announced last year his generous feat of fully funding the Italian monument’s restoration, but some unions, regulators and consumer groups are suspicious of these actions and have reacted accordingly.

Aside from one group, the Antitrust Agency, accusing the deal of being in violation of competitive bidding rules, questions are being raised about the fact that the rights to the Colosseum’s logo and image will be granted to Tod’s for 15 years in exchange for the donation. Though the deal will allow the Tod’s logo on ground-level signs at the site and on the back of tickets, Della Valle has stated to WWD that he is:

” … not seeking commercial return through the sponsorship of the Colosseum, and that no company advertising will be visible on the monument during the works on the amphitheater.”

Though these matters are typically handled by the Italian government and not private funders, the economic crisis has forced a reliance on outside help. The worries of commercialism aren’t confined to this situation, of course. Architizer has reported on a surge of concerns over the vast amount of advertising in Rome that appears to be eclipsing the rest of the city, and they mention new legislation that may worsen the problem.

With all that said, I don’t necessarily believe there’s anything to worry about in this situation; it’s an unfortunate position to be in, but right now letting Tod’s put their logos around the amphitheater may be the only way left to prevent Rome’s history to literally crumble to the ground. Besides, it’s not as if Tod’s will turn the Colosseum into a shoe store. And hell, if they did, they can sell gladiator sandals and call it an historical shopping experience.

It’s surprising to see that one of our greatest ancient buildings can’t get funding any other way.

Image via Architizer

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