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Olympiastadion

Berlin, Germany

Home of the Hertha BSC

3.6

N/A

Olympiastadion (map it)
Olympischer Platz 3
Berlin, Germany 14053
Germany


Hertha BSC website

Olympiastadion website

Year Opened: 1936

Capacity: 74,064

There are no tickets available at this time.

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Home of Hertha BSC

The foundation for the current Olympiastadion dates back to the late 1890s, when horseracing was very popular and the local ‘Union Klub’ looked for a spot. After years of moving and debate, in 1909 a track was put into place in the area of the stadium, first and foremost making it a designated sports area.

Only 3 years later, in 1912, the construction works for the National Stadion had begun. The design was made by Otto Marchs, the father of Werner Marchs, designer of the late Olympia Stadion.

The stadium was a general sports venue, able to host 11,500 seating spectators and an additional 18,500 standing spots. And, there was a swimming pool stadium, that could host another 3,000 people. Those where pretty big numbers during that time.

In 1921, a new addition to the site was made, with the erection of a two-story building, housing a fencing hall and a gymnasium, quickly turning this area into the “Deutsches Sportforum,” a name that still lasts.

Germany in the late 1920s and beginning of 1930s was in great disarray, also due to the Great Depression, which eventually led to the rise of the infamous dictator Adolf Hitler. Right in that time, in 1931, the International Olympic Committee awarded the 1936 games to Berlin.

As Berlin didn’t have an Olympic size stadium at that time, a new one had to be built or the original National Stadium had to be remodeled. The order to draw a remodeled stadium, was given to the Marchs brothers, Werner and Walter, sons of the former National Stadion architect Otto. After a few first drafts, a big, pompous arena had been drawn out, housing 65,000 spectators.

But just before the building was about to start, Hitler had risen into power and as he wanted the stadium to be part of his legacy, the brothers Marchs were sent back to the drawing table, and eventually came up with “Solution B,” demolishing the old stadium, and making room for a gigantic building, which would tower 13 meters above, and 10 meters below the ground. It had a “Führerloge,” where the leader of Germany could sit and host its most prominent guests. Also, there was more room on the marching “platz” which of course would fit eventual mass gatherings, which were so typical for the leading party in Germany at that time.

The stadium had to be built with savings in mind, because it was still the Great Depression. So the huge mass of excess soil that was created by excavation of the construction pit, was now used as part of the building of the main stand on the west side. The build had to be overseen by someone from the Ministry of Interior, so it would be constructed in line with the views of Imperial Germany. It was behind on schedule all the time and at its highest point, some 2,600 workers were employed to build the venue, which was quickly named the Reichssportfeld.

Construction finished in 1936 and the stadium had its grand opening during the 1936 Olympic Games, in which Germany tried to shine and show its “perfect society.”

After these festivities, the stadium was used as a site for large events, both sports and non-sports related, for example the German Cup final, but also the welcoming of friendly foe ‘Il Duce’ (Mussolini) from Italy.

During the first years of the war, the stadium was used for Youth Games by the Hitlerjugend and Army sports festivals.

From the stadium’s official website:

"The Reichssportfeld had been prepared for war quite early – in the area around the Marathon tunnel, a concrete ceiling and separating walls had been added to expand these underground rooms into a real bunker. At the dawn of the war, the German company Blaupunkt produced primers for anti-aircraft weapons here. In late 1944, the Allied bombardments became increasingly more intense, and the underground facilities of the stadium were prepared as makeshift headquarters for the “Großdeutscher Rundfunk,” Nazi Germany’s national radio network. The administration building north of the Olympischer Platz served as an ammunition depot, other buildings were used for large-scale food and wine storages. The Olympischer Platz was one of ten locations in Berlin, where, on November 12th 1944, Hitler’s last contingents were being sworn in."

After the war, the stadium and its surrounding area had suffered greatly from the bombing. One thing had suffered more than others and after the British troops first occupied the stadium, it ordered for the iconic bell tower (which had basically burned down) to be taken down.

Only 10 years later, much by the effort of Walter Marchs, a new, higher bell tower was erected and a new bell was mounted. After some denazification actions (amongst others the downsizing of the fuhrer loge), the stadium was also renamed to ‘Olympiastadion’. This name still stands today. In 1966 the stadium had gained monumental status, making it hard to tear down.

After more renovations, the old track was reinstalled, being used as a material testing ground for the 1972 Munich Olympics. As for the 1974 World Cup, which was held in West Germany, Berlin’s Olympiastadion was partially roofed, on the two main stands, now covering 26,000 spectators.

After a failed bid for the 2000 Olympic games, eventually in 1998 the Berlin senate decided on a large renovation of the stadium, starting in the early 2000s, as the stadium had been worn out and was in a terrible condition.

The renovation basically gave way to a new lower tier, which led to a lowering of the football ground by 2,65 meters. Also, 74 new skyboxes were installed and in addition, the honorary stand as well as the historic Hall of Honour and Coubertin Hall, based on the requirements of the monument conservation, could be remodelled. The whole remodeling took place during several years, in which the stadium never closed. The annual German Cup final, the home games of Hertha BSC and Berlin Thunder (an NFL Europe team) could take place. Only the IAAF Golden League had to be staged somewhere else.

As per the opening in 2004, the stadium was at its current capacity of 74,649, which consists of 98 loges, 15 boxes and 4.500 business seats. In 2005, it was awarded the 5-star rating by UEFA, making it eligible for Cup Finals, and as a result it will host the 2015 Champions League final. The stadium was also used during the 2006 World Cup, hosting the final game.

The roof-construction in particular is worth mentioning as it’s a tent like roof, the construction has a huge span, and is covering all seats in the house. Especially during night games, the roof lights up and gives an extra nice look and feel to the stadium.

3.6

What is FANFARE?

The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:

  • Food & Beverage
  • Atmosphere
  • Neighborhood
  • Fans
  • Access
  • Return on Investment
  • Extras

Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".

Food & Beverage    3

Compared to the American standards, European football stadiums, Germany not excluded, have rather limited and dull food options, but you may find a few exceptions. The most annoying thing is they work with credit cards, so if you want to buy food, you have to get one of those things (deposit is also a couple euros, which you can get back after handing in the card AFTER the game).

Although it makes buying go a little faster and it is for the convenience of a single point of cash, it is still not very fan friendly.

As for food, you could go for hot dogs (costing you a rough €3) but as we are in Germany, try the bratwurst. Basically, they go for €3, but they have a 'riesencurrywurst' that is €3,50. Currywurst is a local specialty and Berlin is famous for it, so you should try it! Within the same area they also sell a spicy variation (3,50) and a small rib 'hacksteak' for just €3. Get some fries with it, they will cost you €3 as well. In the concourse, they serve a 'boulette' (meaty snack) for 3, and sandwich with 'schnitzel' (pork meat) for €4. All prices are reasonable, but not cheap. Brezel, Germany's second favourite snack, goes for a stunning €3 and you can get your chocolate bar for just €1.

Beers are available everywhere, also in the stands where servers with large beer backpacks are walking around. Again, the aforementioned credit card is needed to get you going. Beer is €4 per 0,5L and a large one (1L) is €7. Prices are ok. The container deposit for your glass is €2 which you can get back by handing it in at one of the beer stands.

You can get your soda for €4 per 0,5 L which is rather expensive.

It must be said that there's a stadium restaurant as well, located in the Ostkurve.

Atmosphere    4

As can be seen in other venues in Germany, bring out the drums and the megaphones! The most fanatic supporters can be found in the Ostkurve section of the stadium.

As the players are about to enter the pitch for pregame warm-up, a loud alarm will start to sound, which leads to all supporters starting to wave their scarfs, creating a rally towel atmosphere. After this, the players enter the field and the pregame singing starts, capped at its best by the singing of the 'Nur nach Hause' song, the original anthem of Hertha BSC (check here for footage).

After this pregame warm-up, the chanting will go on and on during the match, with a variety of songs that are put out there. The crowd (which, at the time of the visit wasn't by far a sell-out) is getting fired up by three men, standing on a small podium. One (of course) has a megaphone, one is using the drum and another is there to support and to take turns if the one with the megaphone starts to get hoarse. Atmosphere therefore is very orchestrated, but still can be very intense. Expect the most intense atmosphere when cross-town rival Union Berlin is coming in.

Truth to be told, one negative aspect of the whole stadium is the fact it has a 400m track inside it, which locates you very distant from the field, making the interaction and atmosphere a little less intense than for example at Dortmund or FC Koln.

Not to be forgotten is the mascot, 'Herthinho' a Berlin Bear, who is cheering up the youngest of fans and tries to get the crowd going.

Neighborhood    3

As the original Olympic stadium is remotely located from the city center and from any residential area, there's not much neighborhood to talk about. That being said, it does offer a very nice beer garden, just around the corner of one of the subway stations.

Also, you will find a nice range of food stalls, just outside of the stadium at Olympischer platz, where you can buy sausages, bretzel, fries and of course: BEER! This gives the direct neighborhood a nice feel and creates a great atmosphere before the game.

Consider visiting in the summer/autumn/spring and not in the winter as temperatures will drop in Berlin. You may find yourself sledding to the stadium instead of sipping a cold one in the sun. The prices for a beer drop considerably with every step you move away from the stadium. If you get out of the subway station at U-Olympia Stadion, there are two small stalls at the exit, selling beer and other stuff. It gets you a pint for just €2,20. And it's cold, and you can carry it to the stadium, where old ladies/men will pick up your empty bottle!

At the S-bahn station, you will find the beer garden at 'Preussisches Landwirtshaus.' You can get some food there too.

Fans    3

German fans have some interesting habits when it comes to supporting their team. First, always look for the guys who wear denim, sleeveless, jackets with logos and patches from all kinds of teams (mostly their own) stitched to it. Second, in Germany, it's very normal to bring multiple scarfs with you. Just knot them around your wrist, or wrap them around your waist and you're in!

BSC fans are known to be loyal, still turning out in pretty big numbers (attendance for the visited game was 46,000 against a low ranked club). The fans have a special bond with Karlsruhe SC, which is quite rare for teams within the same country. It dates back to the 1970s and is still very visible, fans even sporting scarfs with logo's from both clubs.

There's a solid rivalry with their city counterpart 1. FC Union, which is quite the opposite as they have built their own stadium by giving and selling their own blood! (true story, true fanship).

Access    4

There are two subway stations serving the stadium, with trains running every couple minutes from every station downtown. You can either take the S-bahn (fewer stops) or the U-bahn (regular subway) and it gets you there. As for parking, there is a huge parking lot in front of the stadium and there are also two garages located underneath the stadium. These last two (housing 1500 parking spots) are reserved seats. The parking spaces in front of the stadium are free, but first come, first served.

Return on Investment    4

Ticket prices start as low as €15 (even for the big games), and there are only a few obstructed view seats in the house.

Prices range from this low to about €96 for the best seats in the house. For a reasonable €30-€40 you can get a great spot in the stadium. As the Bundesliga is a strong competition and top squads flock in every other week, €20 to €30 is quite a nice price for an evening. Also, consider when buying, that you're in a historic venue, where Jesse Owens once stunned the leader of Germany, by winning his record gold medals.

The venue still has a very imposing look and you can breathe history.

Extras    4

The complex of the stadium is huge, and can be visited during a self-guided tour, on non-matchdays. The tour is only €7 and gives you the opportunity to check out the complex, with the Glockenturm, the Wall of fame, the old 'stafettenlaufer,' die Rossefuhrer (horseguards) and Marathontor, which gives the stadium its signature look. You can also get guided tours, which start at €10 for the basic tour, €12 for the premium, 2-hour tour. You can also create your own tour group and guidance, from €150 per group (maximum of 15 group members).

The Fan Shop is located in the stadium and offers a range of articles which you can buy and use during your next visit. It is open during the game and on weekdays.

One of the most extraordinary features in the stadium is the Chapel. It is gold plated, oval shaped, and you can visit for good luck. It has bible texts in 18 different languages. It is located in the main stand, next to the players lounge and is open during home games.

As this is the former 1936 Olympic village area, there are some more arenas to visit. Consider the Field Hockey stadium, located at the east end of the stadium, housing 5,000 spectators (which is pretty good for a hockey arena).

On the north end of the arena, you'll find the original swim stadium, which was upgraded in the 1970s and can now fit 7,500 spectators in it, making it a proper venue for Championships.

Nice read

I liked the history.

by megminard | Oct 31, 2014 08:51 PM

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