AS Roma’s president James Pallotta: Rome’s newest gladiator?

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Story highlights

AS Roma President James Pallotta outlines new strategy for Italian club

Pallotta wants to see his team play at Rome's Colosseum or Circus Maximus

Club's new stadium set to open in time for 2016-17 season

Roma faces Bayern Munich in Champions League on Tuesday

CNN  — 

“Brothers, what we do in life echoes in eternity” (line from the film Gladiator)

Gladiators, ready?

From the ancient ruins of Rome, a new empire rises.

But with a nod to the past, the city’s newest gladiator James Pallotta’s eyes light up when his thoughts turn to historic sites like the Colosseum.

For if all roads lead to Rome, the AS Roma president is leaving no stone unturned in his intention to marry the Eternal City’s historic past with Italian football’s new emerging force.

“I have one big goal,” Pallotta tells CNN, with an infectious smile. “I want to get the city to let us play somebody like Barcelona or Bayern Munich or someone like that at the Colosseum.”

While the idea might have the marketing department rubbing their hands with glee, Pallotta could have his work cut out, persuading those maintaining these sites to allow Francesco Totti and Daniel de Rossi to put on an altogether different kind of gladiatorial show.

Commissioned by Emperor Vespasian, the Colosseum remains Rome’s most iconic monument and while others may not have ever considered bring the modern day Roman legion to entertain the masses, Pallotta is not like any other owner.

“We’ll do a pay-per-view on it, $25 around the world,” adds the Bostonia, elaborating on the idea. “We could get 300 million people wanting to watch that around the world – a game in the Colosseum which they’ll never see again.

“We take that money, which could be billions of dollars, and then set up a foundation in Rome to fix up the antiquities even faster and put the rest towards inner city programs in Rome.”

Vespasian died before he could see the Colosseum completed by his son, Titus, in AD 80, with the 55,000 arena becoming an integral part of Rome’s history.

Pallotta jokes he wouldn’t mind seeing a few lions let out of the traps to speed up the match tempo, and the 56-year-old American-born investor, who took over the job of rebuilding Roma in 2012 , is clearly a man in a hurry.

While millions flock to the Italian capital to gaze upon the likes of St Peter’s Basilica, the Pantheon and the Sistine Chapel, Pallotta wants future visitors to embrace a new modern Roma.

“When you walk around the city, you cannot keep your head down,” he said.

“You have to look up because of the architecture and every step you take is amazing.

“For us not to have Rome be a significant part of what we are doing with the team would be foolish.”

A fixture between Roma against world class opposition at the Colosseum or perhaps more realistically, at the Circus Maximus given rock concerts have been staged there, is just one of Pallotta’s many ideas.

Neither Barca nor Bayern responded to CNN’s request to see if they would consider playing against Roma in one of these venues in a friendly.

However, more tangible is Pallotta’s intention to provide Rome with a new stadium which the club hopes will be ready for the 2016-17 season.

Able to accommodate up to 60,000 people, the arena is intended to become the focal point for a new chapter in the club’s history.

A “Peak Performance Center” will be built adjacent to the stadium providing facilities for the club’s first and youth teams to train, while a deal has been struck with local authorities to extend the metro line allowing easier access for supporters.

A new club village, which will host restaurants, bars and shops will also be built with the 13,500 square meter fanzone helping to create thousands of jobs.

Given that Rome was not built in a day, Pallotta has big plans for Roma’s youth academy and the city’s youngsters.