12 masterpieces - Germany's World Cup stadiums
16 May 2006, MUNICH - They are the architectural showpieces for the billion-dollar spectacle known as the World Cup, and yet it was precisely the football stadiums which this year have stirred a great deal of controversy.
16 May 2006
MUNICH - They are the architectural showpieces for the billion-dollar spectacle known as the World Cup, and yet it was precisely the football stadiums which this year have stirred a great deal of controversy.
In a publicity-generating offensive, the consumer advocate testing organization Stiftung Warentest showed the "red card" over alleged safety deficiencies, drawing the wrath of the World Cup Organizing Committee.
In the meantime, the matter has died down, and the host country Germany is promising that the stadiums are and will remain safe for the tournament starting June 9.
"There can be no doubts about the enormously high safety standards of our World Cup stadiums," says German Federal Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble.
Already before the opening whistle there has been a huge amount of recognition for Germany's showcase arenas from abroad.
"When I look at the German stadiums, I have to feel ashamed about the stadiums which we offered in 1998," says former world-class footballer Michel Platini, who belonged to the French organizing committee when France staged the World Cup eight years ago.
With investments of some 1.5 billion euros (1.9 billion dollars), Germany made 12 stadiums with a total seating capacity of 3.2 million during the World Cup ready for the tournament.
"We have gained the best infrastructure in the world for the game of football," says Organizing Committee vice-president Wolfgang Niersbach.
Now the preparations are coming down the final stretch, for the stadiums must now be taken over by the world footballing body FIFA.
In one step already, the spanking new stadium in Munich has had the name "Allianz Arena" taken down, since at the World Cup, only those official sponsors of the tournament are permitted at the arenas.
This is costing the Allianz Arena some 150,000 euros, since dismantling the letters, each weighing between 130 and 420 kilograms, is a labour-intensive one. The entire name weighs more than three tons, and measures 39.83 metres long by 5.18 metres high.
The name-change applies not only to the stadium which cost 341 million euros and which Bayern Munich company boss Karl-Heinz Rummenigge calls "the most beautiful stadium in the world," but also to all the other stadiums bearing a company logo.
The one exception is the Gottlieb-Daimler-Stadium in Stuttgart. The erstwhile carmaker Daimler had purchased the rights to the name of what was formerly the Neckarstadion for the 1993 World Athletics Championships, and FIFA has recognized the name.
In contrast to the 1974 World Cup in then West Germany, when the Dortmund stadium was the only one which did not have a running track between the stands and the pitch, this time around virtually all the stadiums are purely for football.
"When it comes to the stadiums, the 1974 World Cup was like the Stone Age compared to today," Niersbach said. "Back then, there was only one (Dortmund) purely football stadium. Today there are nine." Only the Stuttgart, Berlin and Nuremberg stadiums still have athletics tracks surrounding the pitch.
The "Stone Age" is above all over with regard to the seating for fans. An increased level of comfort has not only whetted peoples' appetites for the forthcoming World Cup, but has also attracted well above 11 million fans during this past Bundesliga football season.
"The record fan numbers in the Bundesliga are connected to the new stadiums. And each stadium has its own unique character," Niersbach notes.
Subject: German news