Founded in May 2009, RasenBallsport Leipzig is the fourth football club that Red Bull have invested in, following FC Red Bull Salzburg in Austria, the New York Red Bulls in the USA and Red Bull Brasil in Brazil. The sponsor's name is not permitted in the team name according to the regulations of the German Football Association (Deutscher Fußball-Bund) nor may it be fully owned by the sponsor. The German Football Association requires a club to hold 51% of its shares, Red Bull will therefore only be able to acquire 49% of the club. To retain Red Bull's initials but comply with these regulations the club was renamed as RasenBallsport Leipzig ("Leipzig lawn ball sports").
RB Leipzig aims to play first division Bundesliga football within the next eight to ten years. It began with the purchase of the playing licence of fifth division side SSV Markranstädt. The new club retained the Oberliga team as well as all other football teams of SSV and kept on coach Tino Vogel. In 2010, the team moved from their old ground to play their home games in the Zentralstadion which was renamed Red Bull Arena. It returned its 2nd, 3rd and 4th teams to SSV Markranstädt and adopted ESV Delitzsch as its second team. A year later the U23 team was promoted to the same Sachsenliga, ending that collaboration too.
It has been predicted that Red Bull will invest 100 million Euros in the club over ten years. Instrumental in the deal was Michael Kölmel, owner of the Zentralstadion (central stadium) in Leipzig.Dietrich Mateschitz, owner of Red Bull, openly speaks of the possibility of the club winning a German championship. The last team from Leipzig to win the German championship was VfB Leipzig in 1913.
The investment in SSV Markranstädt by Red Bull is not the company's first attempt to enter the Leipzig football scene. In 2006, it tried to purchase FC Sachsen Leipzig, a club with a rich tradition, but also plagued by constant financial trouble. After months of fan protests which deteriorated into violence, the company abandoned the plan.
Protests also greeted plans to invest in SSV Markranstädt, but to a much lesser extent. Apart from the use of weed killer that damaged the pitch at Stadion am Bad and some destroyed advertising, opposition was non-violent. In a survey carried out by the newspaper Leipziger Volkszeitung, 70% of the questioned residents of Leipzig welcomed the initiative. Public support for action against the involvement was low as football in Leipzig had reached rock-bottom, according to the Alliance of Active Football Fans. FC Sachsen Leipzig had its Regionalliga Nord (IV) licence revoked at the end of the 2008–09 season when the club became insolvent, while local rival Lokomotive Leipzig failed to earn promotion. Neither club has criticised Red Bull's investment, despite all three clubs playing in the same league in 2009–10. Steffan Kubald, chairman of Lokomotive Leipzig, dubbed the club the Bayern Munich of the Oberliga, meaning RB Leipzig was the team to beat.
The Red Bull Arena during a friendly against Schalke
The club played most of its home games in its inaugural season in the Stadion am Bad, which holds 5,500 spectators and is the old homeground of the SSV Markranstädt. Since 1 July 2010 home games have been played at the Red Bull Arena also known as Zentralstadion with 44,345 seats.