Hertha likely to stay in Berlin Olympiastadion… after reconstruction?

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Plans are afoot to rebuild Berlin’s Olympiastadion to meet Hertha’s need for an exclusive football stadium. This will make it possible for the Berlin club to stay back at its old home amid speculations that the club was mulling a new stadium.

Instead of building a brand new stadium, the focus is now squarely on the reconstruction of the Berlin Olympiastadion much to the joy of the city.

A new feasibility study prepared by the architecture firm Gerkan, Marg and Partner (gmp) showed that a reconstruction of the Olympiastadion is actually possible. “We initially assumed that a reconstruction of the Olympiastadion was not an option. Our study has now surprisingly confirmed a fundamental feasibility,” said Hertha President Werner Gegenbauer, according to German media reports.

Hertha’s aspiration is to have an exclusive ground with a reasonable capacity that could offer a much more emotional experience for the fans who can witness the action from a closer range. The current setting at the Olympiastadion and its past history do not meet these requirements.

However, the new feasibility study has boosted the chance of a reconstruction as per the club’s vision. To what extent the conversion of the Olympiastadion can be implemented, should now be examined by the Senate.

“The Olympiastadion can be developed into a football stadium. This is good news for the sport city of Berlin and for all Hertha fans. I am glad that we can now go this route together with Hertha BSC. Although a lot of detail work is still ahead, I am very optimistic about finding good solutions,” Andreas Geisel, Senator for Interior and Sports, is quoted by the media as saying.

As the owner of Olympiapark, the city of Berlin is concerned that the Olympiastadion – which saw a €250-million renovation for the 2006 FIFA World Cup – could become a huge loss in the absence of its main tenant, Hertha. The objective, therefore, is to ensure that Olympiastadion remains economically viable. This has made the management more willing to explore suitable conversions of the stadium in order to make it conducive for Hertha’s stay in the long run.

Berlin’s Governing Mayor Michael Müller said: “Hertha remains in the year of its 125th anniversary in Berlin and the Olympiastadion is still symbol of football in Berlin. Now it’s about bringing the possibilities of Berlin and the demands of Hertha into line so that the playing experience for all Berliners is even more immediate and more exciting.”

“The Olympiastadion can be developed into a football stadium, which is a good news for the sports city of Berlin and for all Hertha fans, and I am delighted to be able to go this route together with Hertha BSC I am very optimistic about finding good solutions,” he added.

The desire for a new football arena had arisen because the Berlin Olympiastadion is no longer modern in terms of its infrastructure, and only two thirds are used in many home games. This is far below the average utilization rate of federal league games, which is 92 per cent. The Olympiastadion is no longer suitable and future-oriented, reasoned counterparts.

With the stay in the Olympiastadion the new building costs would be dispensed with, because a new stadium would have sought ‘100% private’ finance – neither President Gegenbauer nor CFO Ingo Schiller could quantify the presumed costs. The planners also reckon with a mere construction period of 36 months.

To what extent the conversion also corresponded with the plan to reduce the capacity to about 55,000 seats, remains as open as the financing and the distribution of the resulting costs. Hertha has also a little time: the leasing contract for the Olympiastadion was extended last year until 2025. Only at the end of this term will the new stadium be ready.

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