As the last World Cup hosts, Germany unsurprisingly have an array of impressive stadiums. There are no fewer than 11 football stadiums with a capacity of at least 50,000, 10 of which are called home by Bundesliga clubs.
This is compared to only four English football grounds, including Wembley, to have a capacity above 50,000. There is clearly a lot of work for the FA to do if their bid to host a forthcoming World Cup is to be taken seriously.
Germany’s biggest football stadium is Signal Iduna Park, home of Borussia Dortmund. Most football fans know it as Westfalenstadion, but the modern commercial necessity for stadiums to have sponsorship agreements has resulted in a recent name change.
However, the ground has managed to keep a traditional feel by retaining a standing area for league matches (international fixtures are fully seated). This results in a sizeable capacity of 80,552 for Borussia home matches, with an obvious by-product being an excellent atmosphere.
The Südtribüne terrace that holds nearly 25,000 standing home supporters is the largest standing area in European football and is held up as the example of how standing on a large scale can be viable in top level club football. The ground hosted the 2006 World Cup semi final between Germany and Italy, which the hosts lost 2-0 after extra time.
Germany had better luck in the nation’s second largest football stadium in 2006, winning a quarter final penalty shootout against Argentina at Berlin’s Olympiastadion. Hertha Berlin’s home ground has a capacity just under 75,000.
Famous for hosting the 1936 summer Olympics, the 2006 World Cup final and the German cup final, the Olympic stadium, with it’s uniform bowl shape and traditional running track, is one of the most Europe’s most recognisable stadiums. With Hertha closely involved in this season’s title race, the stadium could soon have the Bundesliga trophy in its cabinet for the first time.
Munich’s Allianz Arena (capacity 69,901) is one of the world’s best modern stadiums. Distinguishable by its lattice shell exterior, the arena is seen as an architectural masterpiece, although it was shrouded in controversy before its opening in 2005 when leading figures were charged with corruption concerning construction contracts.
Bayern Munich and 1860 Munich share the ground (as they did at Munich’s Olympiastadion, now the fourth largest German stadium used for football).
The last Bundesliga stadium with a capacity above 60,000 is FC Schalke 04’s Veltins-Arena in Gelsenkirchen. Like Westfalenstadion it accommodates standing supporters for league matches, but the most notable fixtures (the 2004 Champions League final and five 2006 World Cup fixtures) to have taken place at the ground have been in front of the smaller all-seater capacity of 54,000.
The Veltins-Arena is notable for its retractable roof and sliding pitch, which makes it a useful venue for other events such as ice hockey, speedway and rock concerts.
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