40 Years Westfalenstadion - Happy Birthday!
On April, 2nd, 2014 Dortmund is celebrating a great anniversary. The Westfalenstadion Dortmund becomes 40 years of age. On April 2, 1974 the new stadium was inaugurated by a friendly game between Borussia Dortmund and Sch…e 04. During these 40 years Dortmund’s “temple of football” became a symbol of the city scape of our town, besides the television tower, the Theatre, the Reinoldi Church or the U-Tower. When speaking of the often used phrase “time flies”, let us have a look back to 1974: Dortmund’s biggest employer was the former Steel Company Hoesch, now part of the ThyssenKrupp concern with its former three factories: Westfalenhütte, Union and Phoenix. The VW beetle was replaced by the Golf, the BVB only played in the second division after the relegation two years ago and Germany became World Champion in Football.
The decision to carry out the Football World Championship 1974 in Germany paved the way for building a new stadium in Dortmund. The building costs of approximately 32 million Deutsche Marks were relatively low-cost and the new stadium was situated directly next to the old home of Borussia Dortmund, the stadium ”Rote Erde”. The use of prefabricated construction parts instead of common methods of construction enabled to keep operating expenses down.
In 1974 Dortmund’s Westfalenstadion was an absolutely novelty compared to other German stadiums. Only constructed and built for football matches without a running track around the green. Compared to other arenas, football matches had been and are the main attraction in Dortmund’s stadium. Of course some presentations had been arranged like concerts of Simon & Garfunkel or Supertramp during the Eighties and a welcome event for Dortmund’s first semester students take place regularly. During all these years, the stadium experienced a lot of rebuildings and expansions. Several construction steps, as extending the spectators’ tribunes and closing the corners, increased the capacity of originally 54.000 seats to over 80.000 seats. The former four red floodlights had been replaced by the striking yellow pylons we can all see from far away.
The Westfalenstadion’s name had officially been changed – into an artificial construct sposored by an insurance company in 2005, a fact which did not meet the fans’ approval until today. For many of them these renaming means a break with traditions as well as a further sign of the progressive commercializing in football. But let us be honest, without the often criticized commercializing as well as the earnings from sponsoring, the BVB would not be near that range he is today. And on the other side, which club’s stadium meanwhile has not been renamed? For many of the fans this surely is not a big consolation and therefore the former name “Westfalenstadion” still lives on, not only for the critics and romantics of football, but also for most of the BVB supporters.
For the BVB supporter as well as for the regularly visitor, the stadium is more than just a place to watch home games. For most of the fans it became a kind of” living room” during the years.
It is called “living room” because many have their constant stances or seats for decades. No matter if the viewer’s place is located in the middle of “the yellow wall” on the mighty South Tribune, the largest standing room in Europe or on one of the seats. The viewers meet each other at every home match and normally know everybody in the range of their own place and had experienced common ups and downs during their more or less years in the Westfalenstadion. Together they cheered and jubilated for Borussia’s team, embraced each other as well when suffering bitter defeats. Watching football in Germany’s biggest and best stadium doesn’t mean only watching the 90 minutes of the match. Neighbours, people in front or behind the own seat had become very often good friends and a lot of now married couples got to know each other in the Westfalenstadion for the first time.
Apart from these more personal experiences the answers are understandable different when asking the regular viewer about their opinions about the highlights on the pitch. Olders adore the win in the relegation match in Nuremberg in 1976 when Dortmund returned into the first Bundesliga or mention the 3:1 win against Fortuna Cologne in 1986 which was the key match to stay in the league. Others prefer Lars Ricken’s goal for the 3:1 win against Deportivo La Coruna in UEFA Cup 1994. And of course the newest favourite is Felipe Santana’s “last minute goal” against FC Malaga last year. Also a lot of derbies against Sch…e or matches against Bayern stick in the minds of many. In addition to Borussia’s matches there are also a lot of Internationals of the German team. Most popular examples are the 1:0 against Poland (who remembers David Odonkor’s cross for scorer Oliver Neuville?) and some weeks later the tragic 0:2 defeat against Italy – the end of all German World Championship dreams. These all are only some examples for countless highlights on Westfalenstadion’s green, listing all here in this article would be impossible. For sure every viewer could describe his individual “Westfalenstadion adventure”.
Without a doubt Borussia Dortmund’s chronicle of the last 40 years is in close contact to our stadium located at Strobelallee, the street in front of the North entrance. It is an attraction pole for football fans. Its unique great atmosphere and standing or sitting close to the green is always praised in Gemany and also in other countries especially in England, the home country of football. And our stadium is far away from getting old! There was a lot of investment in the last years and will be in the future. Beside a lot of modifications, the opening of a Borussia Dortmund museum, the “Borusseum” a new light system for the perfect growth of the grass was installed. For the next season a free WIFI will be offered. So if you might become curious of what’s happening backstage in Dortmund’s stadium a visit of the Borusseum or a guided stadium tour is highly recommended.
And at last the most important message: Happy birthday Westfalenstadion! Let’s continue our successful way with you and our BVB for the next 40 years!