Olympiastadion, Munich, Germany

posted in: Foreign, Stadiums | 0

UEFA *****
Constructed: 1969-1972
Architects: Günther Behnisch & Frei Otto
Capacity: 69.267 (63.666 during Internationals)
Opened: 26/05/1972 West-Germany – USSR 4-1

Memorable games:
– Final WC 1974: Netherlands – West-Germany 1-2
– Final EC 1 1979: Nottingham Forest – Malmö FF 1-0
– Final European Championship 1988: Netherlands – USSR 2-0
– Final CL 1993: Olympique Marseille – AC Milan 1-0
– Final UEFA Cup 1996 (First Leg): FC Bayern München – Girondins Bordeaux 2-0
– Final CL 1997: BVB Dortmund – Juventus 3-1

Other events:
– 1972 Olympics
– WC-final Speedway IAAF Grand Prix 1989
– EC Athletics 2002
– Mass pope John-Paul II in 1987
– 5x Rolling Stones
– 4x Michael Jackson
– 2x Pink Floyd

A “youthful old-timer” is perhaps the best description of the Olympiastadion in Munich. The stadium which is known worldwide for the futuristic looking roof was born more than 40 years ago on the drawing board of Günther Behnisch. Inspiration for the world-famous roof the architect found at the world exhibition in Montreal where another architect, Frei Otto, had designed a similar roof for the German Pavilion. A hanging roof from acrylic glass was a revolutionary concept and because designing a football stadium is a whole different kettle of fish than designing a temporary pavilion, both architects join forces.
With a covered area of 34,550 m² by 4,000 acrylic glass panes the roof protects 39,000 places or about three quarters of the stadium. The roof even spreads out over a total area of over 75,000 m², however, and covers also other parts of the Olympic complex. The stadium is embedded in the Olympic Park where, in addition to many green areas, a pond and an artificial hill of accumulated war debris, also the 11,000 seat “Olympiahalle”  and the “Schwimmhalle” with a reduced capacity of 2,000 places (9,000 ever) are located.
While in architectural circles the stadium is famous because of the unique roof most football fans will remember it for the masterful goal scored by Marco van Basten against the Soviet Union in 1988. However, the worldwide Olympic site in also the collective memory as the scene of a lurid spectacle: on september 5, during the 1972 Summer Olympics,  terrorists of the Organization “Black September” started a hostage situation which resulted in 9 Israeli athletes, five terrorists and one police officer killed. During an emotional speech IOC president Avery Brundage would utter the historic words: “The games must go on.
For years the fixed occupant of the stadium was FC Bayern München. Bayern took up residence for its final and decisive match of the season 1971-72 against Schalke 04. After a rousing 5-1 victory Bayern was crowned champion. In the 32 subsequent seasons Bayern would add 15 more titles to the trophy case. The Attendance record at the Olympia stadium is strangely not held bythe mundane red and white club but by1860. On August 15 1973 83,000 officially registered spectators were at the stadium for the derby against FC Augsburg in the Regionalliga Süd (then the 2nd Bundesliga) . According to unofficial sources, the true number is even higher, with some sources even mentioning 100,000 spectators!
Notwithstanding the futuristic look and the 5 UEFA stars the stadium in recent years did no longer met the needs of an European power such as FC Bayern. It is almost unthinkable today but due to the protected status of the stadium the Bavarian top club, up to its last home game in 2005, had no loges or business seats. The only luxury provided for the 350 folding chairs counting grandstand consisted of blankets to keep the guests of honour warm. Besides this the athletics track and the non covered grandstand were since long a thorn in the side of the Bayern directors. They longed for a move to a new arena. A humiliating 1-5 defeat by the German national team against England in september 2001 helped Franz Beckenbauer and his team get the majority of the Munich population behind him in a referendum. The result can be admired just a couple of kilometers away.
After the move of FC Bayern and TSV 1860 Munich to the new Allianz-Arena in 2005 the Olympia park is barely used for professional team sports at all. During my visit in May 2007 the stadium was hosting the sports day of an insurance company. In a stadium with 5 UEFA stars …

Sources:

“Ein Denkmal für die Zukunft”. NEY Matthias, in Stadionwelt N° 6 12/2004

“Gewagt gewonnen”. NEY Matthias, in Stadionwelt N° 6 12/2004

“Weltarchitektur und des “Kaisers Terrorist” “. in “Das Grosse Buch der deutschen Fussball-Stadien. SKRETNY Werner.

“Voetbal Tempels”. SPAMPINATO Angelo, uitg. Tectum.

Photo’s: Olympiastadion_Munich by M(e)ister Eiskalt used as CC BY-SA 3.0, Münchener_Olympiastadion by Tobi87 used as GFDL