Dynamo Berlin venue plans ‘torpedoed’



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Berlin Jahnstadion Image: Schöning SpOrtconcept

The demolition of Friedrich-Ludwig-Jahn-Sportpark in Berlin (Germany) which was earlier supposed to be torn down in Spring of 2021 now stands canceled. The plans of the Sports Administration for the residence of German football club Dynamo Berlin have been thwarted. At least for now, no excavator will be rolling till 2022 end.

Senator Andreas Geisel (SPD – Social Democratic Party of Germany) actually wanted to initiate the whole demolition process in 2021. The building with trapezoidal floodlight towers and the distinctive, shell-like main grandstand was supposed to be done away with this winter and give way to a new structure that meets the requirements for large-scale events and also serves the interests of the physically challenged.

The 19,708-capacity Friedrich-Ludwig-Jahn-Sportpark is a multipurpose sports complex located in the Western part of the locality of Prenzlauer Berg in the borough of Pankow in Berlin (Germany). The sports complex covers an area of approximately 22 hectares and boasts an array of facilities.

With 19,000-plus seats, Friedrich-Ludwig-Jahn-Sportpark is the third largest stadium in Berlin after the Olympiastadion and the Stadion an der Alten Försterei.

Instead of demolishing the almost dilapidated venue, the Senate, at the insistence of the Greens and the Left, is planning to hold a workshop where all options will be re-examined: From renovating the existing building to replacing it.

The officials of the Pankow District Sports Association are livid over the whole decision and it is being feared that due to delay in reconfiguration work, the stadium which is decaying fast will no longer be usable. It was one of the most important infrastructure projects in Berlin with an investment volume of around 200 million euros.

A spokesman for the Senate Sports Administration while confirming that the demolition plans stands canceled, stated, “It is no longer possible to use the grandstands and the main building. No more events, competitions or games will take place in the stadium. At the most, school sports could possibly still take place on the lawns.”

Stated Carsten Maaß from the Pankower Sportbund, who is also the CEO of SV Empor Berlin, “It is a major setback that we have suffered. In the upcoming election campaign (read the 2021 German federal election for the 20th Bundestag is expected to be held on September 26th, 2021), all political groups should explain how they plan to push ahead with the redesign of the facility because we are afraid that this project will get buried under the files.”
 

Left-Green stance

Those who are staunchly opposing the pulling down of the stadium, also does not want the whole development to stand canceled. The Greens and the Left do not want a new stadium but a renovated arena.

Left MP Michail Nelken stated that the redesign simply needs more time – “The Sports Administration apparently underestimated the urban development dimension of the Jahn Sportpark renovation project and thus also the necessary planning procedure and its time dimension.”

It is no surprise that the stadium is now being closed. Recently, there was only limited operation – and the different clubs for whom the stadium serves as home ground are being accommodated in replacement sports facilities.

Dennis Buchner from the Berlin SPD Parliamentary group wants more planning to go into the entire development. He supports Senator Geisel’s stance that a completely new arena should be built. “It seems very unrealistic that basic parts of this stadium can be used to create a completely barrier-free, inclusive stadium,” says Buchner.
 

Up in arms

The community in which the stadium will sit are opposing the development tooth and nail citing environmental reasons and raising questions over the economic benefits of the whole project.

The residents argue that why a new facility is required to support the same number of 20,000 spectators for which a lot of trees will have to be felled and damage will also be done to the historic interior wall in the neighboring Mauerpark.

Maaß, who used to live in the neighborhood for a long time, pretty well knows that the concept of a futuristic facility will not go down well with the residents.

Maaß flayed the decision to cancel the demolition of Friedrich-Ludwig-Jahn-Sportpark and that too “so late”.

“Such an important project has been torpedoed. Until mid-2020, it was assumed that the stadium demolition would start in winter of 2021,” the head honcho lamented.
 

Will demolition happen?

Eminent architects will discuss whether to go ahead with the demolition of Friedrich-Ludwig-Jahn-Sportpark in the workshop which will be held in mid-2021. Will a more pleasing stadium project come out in the end? Doubts are being cast, especially in the Berlin CDU Parliamentary group.

Asserted MP Stephan Lenz, “We have to talk about detailed issues such as the floodlight systems or the interior wall. But this can be done simultaneously along with gearing up for the demolition work and must not put the entire planning on hold.”

A new schedule will have to be drawn up at the earliest possible. It should not be a case of work on the sports park not ending until 2026. It is being feared that Pankow residents will be greeted with a worn out stadium instead of a new one.

The Sports Administration is still hopeful and wants to save money for revamp work of the arena and an interim solution to continue using the ramshackled stadium.

On New Year’s Day 2021, the operating license for Berlin’s third largest sports arena expired. And the worst case scenario is that the arena will remain as it is for the next two years. What decision is reached still remains to be seen?

The outline plan was to deliver a brand new 20,000-capacity stadium focused on inclusivity for athletes and supporters alike. It was intended as the host venue of 2023 Special Olympics. However, the above development could make this nigh impossible.
 

Friedrich-Ludwig-Jahn-Sportpark

During the 19th century, the Friedrich-Ludwig-Jahn-Sportpark was an Army parade ground, but in the early years of the 20th century football came along, and it went on to become Hertha’s (German football club) first stadium. However, it wasn’t until 1951 when construction of full-sized stands began, allowing up to 30,000 fans to watch games.

In 1964, floodlights were added, tartan track was laid in 1970 and complete revamp of the stands took place in 1986-1987, resulting in partial cover being added. The distinctive, colorful seats came in 1998.

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