by Jordan Adams - 04/13/2006
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The matches for the 2006 World Cup will be played at 12 venues in Germany. Berlin, Dortmund, Frankfurt, Gelsenkirchen, Hamburg, Hanover, Kaiserslautern, Cologne, Leipzig, Munich, Nuremberg and Stuttgart are the host cities and their selected 2006 World Cup stadiums will be used throughout the summer to host this worldly affair.
Berlin's Olympiastadion, which once hosted American sprinter Jesse Owens' Olympic performance that won him four gold medals in 1936, has been the stadium for the German Cup Final since 1985. Capable of holding 74,220, Berlin's main stadium had been under construction since the summer of 2000 at an investment of 242 million Euro. The reconstruction had to be carried out with the greatest of care due to the listed status of the structure, originally designed by architect Werner March. Olympiastadion was built between 1934-36 for around 42 million Reichsmark.
Known worldwide as the Bundesliga's opera house, the Westfalenstadion was originally constructed for the 1974 World Cup. Club team Borussia Dortmund plays its home games here in a stadium that holds just under 66,000. Under its initial construction, architects planned this stadium to be one of the world's best. After finishing his project, Germany construction boss Helmut Schon was blown away with the result. "There's only one football stadium better that this in the whole world, the Azteca in Mexico City." Germany's biggest stadium averaged more than 77,000 fans per game and 1.4 million total over 2004-2005, both a Bundesliga and European record.
The successor to the "old" Waldstadion, Frankfurt's top stadium has held such events as the semi-final between Poland and West Germany in 1974 and the Muhammad Ali vs. Karl Mildenberger fight in 1966. The most recent match of note held in this new arena was between Brazil and Argentina in the 2005 FIFA Confederations Cup. Construction on this World Cup stadium lasted from July of 2002 to October 2005 with no breaks in between. Waldstadion is home to Bundesliga outfit Eintracht Frankfurt.
Located in one of Germany's smaller cities, Gelsenkirchen Arena was officially opened on Aug. 13 and 14 of 2001. European governing body UEFA assigned the unique Arena to be the highest possible five-star category. This group also commented, "This venue more than fulfills the necessary criteria, and might even qualify as a 'Six-star stadium.'" Former minister-president Wolfgang Clement praised the Arena as "football's crowning glory". By 2005, The Arena had staged more than 150 events and attracted more than eight million spectators. Local club Schalke 04's home matches are played in this stadium.
Hamburg opened a new stadium on Sept. 2, 2000, hosting home country Germany and Greece. The construction on the new grounds began on March of 1998 with the demolition of the old Volksparkstadion. Home to club team Hamburg SV, Hamburg's stadium capacity sits at just over 51,000.
Hanover's Niedersachsenstadion was first completed in 1954 and has been home to notable outfit Hannover 96 since 1959. Reconstruction of the venerable stadium was undertaken and completed ahead of schedule in December 2004. Boasting a capacity of 50,000, investors put forward 64 million Euro to create this masterful stadium.
Fritz-Walter-Stadion is Kaiserslautern's most notable stadium. First opened in 1920, it is located on the Betzenberg, a 40-metre sandstone hillock at the center of the Palatinate city. Home to FC Kaiserslautern, one of Germany's richest football clubs, the stadium hosted an international friendly between Germany and Hungary to mark the 50th anniversary of the "Miracle of Bern' on June 6, 2004.
Holding home games of perennial club power FC Cologne, a new arena was constructed on the site of the old Mungersdofer stadium for the city of Cologne. Its inaugural match was held on March of 2004 with a friendly between Germany and Belgium. This stadium also showcases a club museum in addition to the pitch that first opened its doors in 1923. Cologne's stadium has welcomed such renowned personalities as the Rolling Stones and the Pope.
Leipzig's Zentralstadion was completed in December of 2003, capable of holding a 44,000 capacity. Commissioned specifically for the 2006 World Cup, Leipzig will stage four group stage matches and a match in the round of sixteen come summer. The "old" Zentralstadion was originally opened in 1956 after 15 months of construction, and was once Germany's largest stadium with a capacity of 100,000.
Munich, one of Germany's most notable cities, was chosen to host the German national team's opening match of the 2006 World Cup on June 9, 2006. Having a capacity of 66,000, this newly refurbished stadium was inaugurated the last few days of May of 2005. Its joint owners are TSV 1860 Munich and Bayern Munich, not only Germany's most successful club, but known throughout Europe as one of soccer's elite clubs. Munich's new stadium will also stage a semi-final match and four more matches throughout the 2006 World Cup tournament.
Reconstructed at a cost of 56 million Euro, Nuremburg's Frankenstadion is one of only three stadiums at the 2006 World Cup that continues to feature an athlete track around the pitch. The other two World Cup stadiums that do as well are Stuttgart and Berlin. The new Frankenstadion has hosted three matches at the FIFA Confederations Cup 2005, including the group stage meeting between Germany and Argentina and the semi-final pitting Germany vs. Brazil. Originally constructed at a capacity of 50,000 and taking three years to finish before its grand opening in 1928, FC Nuremberg's home matches are played in this stadium.
Gottlieb-Daimler-Stadion is Stuttgart's main stadium. It holds 53,200 spectators and has been in use since construction was finished in 1933. Designed by Paul Bonatz, this stadium was under reconstruction and completed at the end of 2005. Home to Bundesliga outfit VfB Stuttgart, the grounds have been used for such venues as European Champions Cup Final, Rolling Stones concert, FIFA World Cup and European championship matches, and the athletics World Championships.
Each of these venues has a unique historical identity. They have been constructed specifically for soccer and the best players this world can find. For most enthusiasts in this country and all across Europe, these World Cup stadiums represent cathedrals and soccer is the dominant religion. And over the first couple of months this summer, the worldly message of soccer will be spread to show that this sport is indeed the globe's greatest game. During this summer we will witness millions of the faithful making the pilgrimage to these shrines for a truly remarkable religious experience.