These two words trigger head cinema in the football scene: “La Bombonera”. That’s the name of the legendary Boca Juniors stadium in Buenos Aires. And based on this steep, narrow and so distinctive grandstand architecture, the new football stadium of Hertha BSC could also be built. The club showed this sketch of ideas for the first time on Friday morning in the Berlin House of Representatives. Capacity: 45,000 fans, including 17,000 standing places.
For years, the Bundesliga soccer club has wanted to get out of the huge Olympic Stadium, where the club pays 7.5 million euros a year as a tenant, and prefer to invest the money in its own property. It has been discussed for years now, 55 locations were discussed at one time, the Olympic site should be the end – this is also supported by sports senator Iris Spranger, SPD. Working title: “Stadion auf dem Lindeneck”, located between the Maifeld grandstand and the bell tower. The stables and huts of a Berlin riding club are currently located there.
And what does that have to do with this stadium in Buenos Aires? The square at Lindeneck is pretty tight, politically there is nothing more possible, so Hertha had to thin out its real estate plans – and reduced the main grandstand like in “La Bombonera”, in English: the box of chocolates. As in Buenos Aires, the grandstand is therefore narrow and steep, looks like a wall and separates the stadium from the Maifeld.
Incidentally, according to Hertha’s CFO Ingo Schiller, you could install a video screen facing Maifeld, for example. So you could use the empty meadow for public viewing, but that’s just an idea. It is considered certain that the stadium will have a roof.
The Hertha fans should continue to stand in the east stand, pardon me, on the east stand – there are no more curves. The guest corner with 4,500 spectators is located at the entrance to the forest stage: You can separate the streams of fans there, Heerstrasse and Pichelsberg S-Bahn station are not far.
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“What has always been important to me is the transport connection,” said Sports Senator Spranger. And that is extremely good at the Olympic Stadium: the majority of spectators travel today by underground and S-Bahn. The Olympiastadion train station could continue to be used, as could the underground garages and parking lots.
For international games, the capacity would drop to 36,000 fans because then only seats are allowed. And how quickly all this can happen is shown by the successful neighboring club in Köpenick, 1. FC Union, which not so long ago kicked down a league. For larger games, Hertha could move to the Olympic Stadium. There is talk of three top games per season. “It’s possible,” said Schiller. “Moving from the larger to the small stadium would be more difficult.”
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It is not yet possible to estimate what such a stadium will cost. Hertha has now presented a quick feasibility study as to whether the construction of such a small stadium variant would be possible at all. Incidentally, it was designed by the world-renowned architectural firm Albert Speer from Frankfurt am Main.
The club wants to finance the stadium itself. “Such a special property cannot be financed like a residential construction site,” said Schiller, but he assumes that the pressure on the investor market will continue to be great. In the past, the club said it had discussed this with providers.
In order for everything to pick up speed now, Berlin’s sports senator is taking over the project and wants to set up a steering group after the summer break and clarify questions about noise protection, monument protection, traffic and climate protection – “together with the Senate administration, the district and those affected”.
It will also be interesting to see how such a new stadium location affects the noisy events permitted in the Olympic Park and in the Waldbühne. That’s one of the big concerns in the area around the Olympic Stadium, where Hertha has been playing for almost 60 years. This does not only mean the neighborhood in the south, but also the quiet district in the north, in Ruhleben.
Politicians are also concerned about the income, which of course is lower in the Olympic Stadium if the tenant finds the property too drafty and large and prefers to look for something new. The pros and cons debates are correspondingly lively among the population at the garden fence and ultimately also in politics.
After several years of tough debate, the Olympic Park is to be further developed. The areas on the other side of the Maifeld with the equestrian stadium are to be used more intensively. “I understand that the equestrian club wants to keep this place, but to say that they were surprised does not correspond to the whole truth,” said Sports Senator Spranger angrily in the House of Representatives. The plans for the further development of the Olympic Park are known. The clearing of the Lindenpark has been discussed since 2019 – “independent of Hertha”.
But the district office of Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf and almost all BVV factions also want to protect the equestrian club at Maifeld from being crowded out by the football stadium. Only the FDP parliamentary group in Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf is “not against a new building from the outset”. This was shown in the most recent meeting of the district sports committee and at an on-site visit to which the equestrian club had invited this week.
Sports Councilor Heike Schmitt-Schmelz (SPD) contradicted her party friend Spranger. It is true that Hertha BSC needs its own stadium, but “from the current perspective that is not feasible here”. She personally doesn’t think much of it if “commercial sport displaces club sport”.
There is no suitable alternative location for the equestrian club, which has been based on the edge of the Maifeld since 1994. In addition, the entire Olympic Park is a monument, said Schmitt-Schmelz. In addition, hundreds of trees would have to be felled. So there will probably be no building permit from the district. However, the Senate can take over the planning because of its “importance for the city as a whole” – and that’s how it is now.