‘The Eagles’ adopt fan-friendly measures


Deutsche Bank Park extension Image: Deutsche Bank

After being known as Commerzbank-Arena for long years, the Eintracht Frankfurt’s home facility is now officially known as Deutsche Bank Park in Frankfurt, Germany.

Eintracht Frankfurt is a German professional sports club based in Frankfurt, Hesse, which is best known for its football club, currently playing in the Bundesliga, the top tier of the German football league system.

Though fans will not give much import to the fact that the stadium is now called Deutsche Bank Park and will still prefer to remember it by the historical name Waldstadion, but a seven-year deal worth €38 million is probably bang for the buck for Eintracht. The Deutsche Bank Park is commonly known by its original name, Waldstadion.

Fans will be thrilled to bits to know that more tickets will be available in the lower price segment. In order to achieve it, Eintracht will increase the number of standing places from 7,435 to 20,344! But, that will not happen in the immediate future.

Recently, local politicos visited the stadium for a presentation, during which Eintracht was explaining its goal for the medium term. After all, taxpayers are still the owners of the stadium, even if Eintracht is reaping most of the rich benefits.

Though structural changes will be done to the venue, but not major ones for people to sit up and take notice. Not at the level of what was done for the stadium during the 2006 World Cup. The key changes to the structure will include strengthening the structure of the North-West end and extending its upper tier downwards by several rows.

Based on a 2017 concept by Hamburg (Germany)-based international architectural company gmp Architekten, here’s how the change could look:

Though nothing eye-catching as such, not visually, but in terms of concept the change goes strongly against modern trends in football stadia. Instead of adding corporate seating at the expense of regular matchgoers, Eintracht is going to remove private boxes and create some of the cheapest-ticket places across the stadium.

During the recent presentation which was graced by politicians, “the goal is more tickets in the lower price segment”. Though the young crowd in Frankfurt is eager to chant but the expensive seats pinch their pockets. Hence, expansion of the standing area will serve twin purposes – lend a more vibrant atmosphere to the facility as well as expand the fan base.

Presently, Deutsche Bank Park has some 9,000 standing places, of which 7,435 are located in the lower North-West end (remainder in the away block). The demand is for much more and Eintracht is known across Europe for its huge fan base. Once the upper North-West stand has seats removed and rows added, it will pave the way for additional 12,909 standing places.

This translates to the fact that Eintracht’s standing terrace will reach a capacity of 20,344, becoming the second largest worldwide, only behind Dortmund’s Südtribüne (24,454). And Eintracht’s representative did admit during the presentation that they are indeed trying to take a page out of Borussia Dortmund’s stadium book. In Frankfurt, creating a single-tier terrace would be an expensive affair, therefore, removing the skyboxes dividing the stand to almost merge both tiers would be pocket-friendly.

The 24,454 capacity Südtribüne (South Bank) is the largest terrace for standing spectators in European football and is known for its vibrant ambience.

The proposed changes will bring domestic capacity from 51,500 to nearly 60,000 people. Of course, during the Union of European Football Association (UEFA) games, the all-seater rule will still be in place and would require temporary installation of seats across the stand (which is already a common practice in the lower tier). But, thanks to some alterations and the extra few rows, the international capacity will also rise, from 48,000 to 49,700, a noticeable increase, especially ahead of Euro 2024.

The City of Frankfurt has been asked to contribute €10 million for the stadium changes, which isn’t a massive amount. A clear picture has still not emerged as to the part covered by Eintracht. The changes are to be carried out gradually, without disturbing the schedule of league fixtures. The entire exercise is expected to last 30-35 months. The final, symbolic step of removing all upper seats is expected to take place during the Qatar World Cup in late 2022. This way capacity of the arena will grow from 2023 onwards.

Deutsche Bank Park

The Deutsche Bank Park was earlier known as Waldstadion, and this name is still popular among supporters. After all, the arena still stands surrounded by trees. While being built in 1925, the stadium had multiple functions, not just the sporting ones (football pitch and athletics track were both in place). During the Nazi era, the venue was a place of political events. The ground staged sporting showpieces like Euro 1988 and 1974 and 2006 World Cups.

Prior to the World Cup events, the stadium was totally refurbished. Between 2002 and 2005, all stands were pulled down and then replaced with new construction worth some €150 mln. Two-tiered stands fit in over 50,000 fans in German games and slightly less when international rules (no standing room) apply. But, the stadium stands out for its retractable roof. Light membrane lies on steel ropes which are also the base of the retractable part implemented by gmp Architekten and SBP Engineers. Prior to the 2006 World Cup, it was widely criticized as the roof was not up to the desired level, with rain water seeping in through the roof. This was later fixed, though.

Currently, the arena has varied uses. Though it is the home facility of one of Germany’s most popular clubs, Eintracht Frankfurt, American football also comes to the stadium (like the final German Bowl 2010) and in 2011 Women’s World Cup was also played here, including the final game.

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