The great Stadium

Lo Stadio infatti, lo Stadio immenso, degno per la sua gigantesca ampiezza dei nuovi atleti, dovuto ad un alacre comitato presieduto dal marchese Compans di Brichanteau, costituirà il punto di richiamo, di adunata delle folle e quasi il centro attorno a cui si svolgeranno le manifestazioni sportive. ("Le Esposizioni del 1911. Roma – Torino – Firenze", F.lli Treves)

Celebrated for its beauty and sheer size, the Stadium was inaugurated on April 30, 1911. Planning Committees and architects saw this structure as one of the great attractions of the Exposition, the center of all sport events at the Fair, and the biggest arena in the world.

The Royal House of Savoy, as well as local politicians, journalists, photographers, and general public (the local newspaper La Stampa talks of about 70.000 spectators) observed the gymnastic drills of 6.000 elementary students during Inauguration Day; the Giornale Ufficiale Illustrato dell'Esposizione dedicated a long and detailed article to this event. Similarly, the official guides of the Fair and several national newspapers described the Stadium and celebrated the success of the events it hosted.

Il colpo d'occhio più meraviglioso, più imponente è in piazza d'Armi. Sono migliaia, e migliaia di persone, che formano insieme un immenso parterre, nel quale i toni chiari degli abiti e dei grandi cappelli femminili danno la visione d'una improvvisa fioritura. Allo Stadium una folla, quale raramente ci è accaduto di veder raccolta in Torino, e che soltanto è paragonabile a quella di un grande avvenimento dell'autunno scorso: lo gare d'aviazione promosse dalla Stampa. ("La Stampa", May 1 1911)

Located in the former Military Parade Ground (the current headquarter of the Polytechnic Institute), the Stadium was created under the sponsorship of a special Committee headed by Marquis Carlo Compans of Brichanteau, and designed by architect Carlo Ceppi, in collaboration with Vittorio Ballatore di Rosana and Ludovico Gonella. Cesare Gamba, an engineer, supervised the general construction, and the firm Porcheddu built it out of reinforced concrete. The artist Giovanni Battista Alloati was in charge of the sculptural ornaments, such as the statues of the Royal balcony and several groups of “Athletes”.

Featuring Classical architectural style, the Stadium was expressly designed to exceed contemporary structures in both dimensions and beauty. Planned to host different sports and cultural events (such as festivals, zootechnical exhibitions, parades, etc.), the Stadium was meant to homage the competitive spirit of the ancient Greek Olympic Games and show the city's modern achievements. The structure was modeled on the design of a classic amphitheatre. It featured three long tracks for cycling, horse racing, and running (Italian Touring Club Guide); it occupied an area of 100.000 square meters and could accomodate up to 40.000 spectators. The stadium included two tennis fields, two soccer fields, an archery area, a fencing field, and an area intended for women's gymnastics.

During the months of the Exposition numerous events were scheduled in the Stadium, including competitions in gymnastics, the Equestrian and Hot-Air Balloon Competitions, the Firemen's Contest, and also zootechnic and agricultural exhibitions. Successively, until its final demolition after the Second World's War, the structure functioned as multi-purpose stadium and hosted several events, such as national and international equestrian contests, gymnastic performances, car and bicycle races. In 1923 the Stadium was chosen as location for the theatrical re-enactment of the Passion of Christ (more than 2000 passers-by joined the production) and in the same year it hosted the exhibition of Technique and Inventions.

References:

Torino Esposizione 1911: Monografia Illustrata edita della Direzione Generale del Touring Club Italiano.Torino: Touring Club Italiano, 1911. 43-45.

Giornale Ufficiale Illustrato dell'Esposizione. No 7, July 1910. Milano: Stab.Momo, 1910.

Ferrara, Patrizia, “Ginnastica, Sport e Tempo Libero”. Storia di Torino. Da capitale politica a capitale industriale. A cura di Umberto Levra. Vol. VII. Torino: Giulio Enaudi Editore, 2001. 1067 – 1087.

Gursel, Bahar. “Two cities, two Fairgrounds: Chicago's 1893 World's Columbian Exposition and Turin's 1911 International Exposition”.Carosso, Andrea. Urban Cultures Of/In the United States: Comparative Perspectives. Bern: Peter Lang AG, 2010. 63 – 86.

Morasso, Mario. “Il Programma Sportivo dell'Esposizione.” Le Esposizioni del 1911. Roma – Torino – Firenze. A cura di Guido Treves. Milano: Fratelli Traves Editore, 1911. 46 – 47.

Pivato, Stefano. “Identita' sportiva e identita' nazionale.” vol. 109, issue 1. Melanges de l'Ecole francais de Rome. Italie et Mediterranee, 1997. 277 – 284.

"La mirabile festa inaugurale dello "Stadium" alla presenza dei Sovrani." La Stampa. May 1, 1911.