Italy’s government is currently searching for engineers to restore the Colosseum in Rome by 2023, specifically by rebuilding the retractable floor. With a budget of €18.5 million (AU$28.99 million) and slated to formally begin construction in the coming months, the hope is that the iconic landmark will soon be able to host events once again – concerts, theatre, and as some pundits have been eagerly suggesting, potentially even sports.
“The reconstruction is a great idea which has gone around the world,” says Dario Franceschini, Culture Minister of Italy.
“It will be a major technological intervention that will offer visitors the opportunity to, not only see the underground rooms… but also appreciate the beauty of the Colosseum while standing in the centre of the arena.”
The original floor has been in a state of disrepair for several hundred years now, currently exposing a network of underground tunnels – also referred to as a “hypogeum” – which was once used to filter gladiators, exotic animals, and other performers out to the public. According to Franceschini, the new floor, any trap doors, and mechanical components introduced must be capable of closing quickly as a means of protecting everything underground from the elements (rain, hail, etc.).
“The hypogeum allowed the organizers of the games to create surprises and build suspense,” says Heinz-Jürgen Beste, researcher at the German Archaeological Institute.
“A hunter in the arena wouldn’t know where the next lion would appear, or whether two or three lions might emerge instead of just one.”
While the prospect of experiencing combat sports – i.e. boxing, MMA, or wrestling – at a place once revered for it would undoubtedly be the stuff of legends, director of the Colosseum Alfonsina Russo maintains that the arena will be reserved for high culture (“no gladiator shows“). But who knows… UFC President Dana White has been known to be quite persuasive; and given what the man has pulled off in 2020 with Fight Island, we’re choosing to remain optimistic.
Official design proposals for the renewed and revamped Colosseum are due for submission by February 1st and completion by 2023.