Baseball legend Mike Piazza purchased a lower-level soccer team in Italy last year. He became the majority shareholder of Reggiana FC, a Serie C (third division) team that has fallen on hard times in recent years. Piazza brought with him the promise of turning the club’s fortunes around, but there is one particular condition that is driving Piazza mad: the rent is too damn high.
Reggiana used to play in Serie A, Italy’s top division, but was relegated in 1997, just two years after opening a new stadium. Bankruptcy followed a few years later, and the club had to surrender the title to its stadium, which was sold at auction to the owner of Serie A team Sassuolo. Now, Reggiana has to pay rent to Sassuolo in order to play in a stadium it used to own itself. As the New York Times pointed out last year, this is a source of embarrassment for Reggiana and its fans.
Piazza has apparently reached his breaking point with regards to the rent. During a press conference last week, he ranted for almost 15 minutes about the exorbitant rent that he is being charged by Sassuolo. Get ready for lots of shouting and table-thumping:
During the rant, Piazza pointed out out that the rent agreement with Sassuolo was negotiated by a former partner who has since left the team. Piazza said that he wants to negotiate with Sassuolo to get his team’s rent down to an amount that is in line with the Serie C league average, and that he has asked the mayor of Reggio Emilia to mediate negotiations. “I have a lot of respect for Sassuolo has accomplished, but guess what, Sassuolo is not bringing the New York Times to Reggio Emilia,” he said. He then went on to point out that his team has “cogliones” and that “this team and this city has got balls.”