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|Former names||Waldstadion (1925–2005)
FIFA World Cup Stadium, Frankfurt (2006 FIFA World Cup)
FIFA Women's World Cup Stadium, Frankfurt (2011 FIFA Women's World Cup)
|Public transit||Frankfurt Stadion|
|Owner||Waldstadion Frankfurt Gesellschaft für Projektentwicklung|
|Operator||Stadion Frankfurt Management GmbH|
|Capacity||Football: 51,500 (9,300 standing for league matches)
48,500 (International matches)
American football: 48,000
|Field size||105 × 68 m|
|Opened||May 21, 1925|
|Renovated||1937, 1953, 1974, 2005|
|Construction cost||€ 150 million|
|Architect||Gerkan, Marg & Partner
|Eintracht Frankfurt (Bundesliga) 1925–present
Frankfurt Galaxy (NFL Europe) 1991–2007
SV Wehen Wiesbaden (2nd Bundesliga) 2007
FSV Frankfurt (2nd Bundesliga) 2008–2009
The Commerzbank-Arena (German pronunciation: [koˈmɛʁt͡sbaŋk ʔaˈʁeːnaː], sometimes [kɔˈmɛʁt͡s-]) is a sports stadium in Frankfurt, Hesse, Germany. Commonly known by its original name, Waldstadion [ˈvaltˌʃtaːdi̯ɔn] (English: Forest Stadium), the stadium opened in 1925. The stadium has been upgraded several times since then; the most recent remodelling was its redevelopment as a football-only stadium in preparation for the 2005 FIFA Confederations Cup and 2006 FIFA World Cup. With a capacity of 51,500 spectators for league matches and 48,500 for American Football and International Football matches, it is among the ten largest football stadiums in Germany. The stadium was one of the nine venues of 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup, and hosted four matches including the final.
The sports complex, which is owned by the city of Frankfurt, includes the actual stadium and other sports facilities, including a swimming pool, a tennis complex, a beach volleyball court and a winter sports hall. The arena has its own railway station, Frankfurt Stadion, on the national rail network.
The Commerzbank-Arena is home stadium of football club Eintracht Frankfurt whose offices are also located on the premises.
- 1 History
- 2 Today's arena
- 3 2006 FIFA World Cup
- 4 Other events
- 5 References
- 6 External links
The location was the site of a former military shooting range, and comprised a sports park with grounds and integrated velodrome and swimming pool. The stadium had a capacity of 35,000 spectators. The first major sporting event to be held in the Waldstadion was the final of the German Football Championship in June 1925, in which 1. FC Nuremberg beat FSV Frankfurt 1–0. The stadium went on to host several matches of the German national team as well as international athletics meets, and considered applying to host the 1936 Summer Olympic Games before the capital, Berlin, decided to bid.
In 1937, the spectator capacity through expansion of the back straight was increased to 55,000.
Under the Nazis, the Waldstadion was designated a "sports field" and used for political events, especially parades and gatherings, with up to 150,000 participants. One of the last sporting highlights before the Second World War was the world record over 400 m by Rudolf Harbig in August 1939.
After the war, the Stadium was used by the United States Army for a year under the name of "Victory Stadium", before being returned to sporting use in July 1946. Sporting highlights of the postwar period were the German Athletics Championships in 1946, some classic local derby matches between Eintracht Frankfurt, FSV and the Kickers Offenbach, the comeback of Max Schmeling and his KO victory against Werner Vollmer on 28 September 1947 as well as the German Gymnastics Festival in 1948.
The first modification and the introduction of the Bundesliga
The first major changes to the stadium were made in the wake of a chaotic game between Eintracht Frankfurt and 1. FC Nuremberg in May 1953. Almost 70,000 tickets were sold for a stadium envisioned for only 55,000 spectators, and 200 fans were injured as thousands tried to force entry.
The renovated and enlarged Waldstadion was reopened on 14 May 1955 after 19 months of construction work. The stadium once more hosted national team matches as well as some important games for Eintracht Frankfurt, who reached the final round of the German National Championships in 1959. During the run to the final, 81,000 watched Eintracht beat FK Pirmasens - an attendance record that still stands.
In December 1960, an ice rink was opened within the oval of the velodrome. Here, the ice hockey team of Eintracht Frankfurt played their home games until 1981. Also in 1960 the stadium was given floodlings, then among the most modern floodlights in Germany and certainly sufficient to continue hosting international matches.
The stadium hosted the World Championships in track cycling in 1966 and the fight for the heavyweight boxing championship between Muhammad Ali and Karl Mildenberger on 10 September 1966, won by Ali with a knockout in the 12th round in front of 22,000 spectators.
The second major renovation of the Waldstadion was needed for the 1974 FIFA World Cup. From May 1972 to January 1974, the stadium was rebuilt virtually from scratch to meet the requirements of the World Cup venues in comfort and safety. With Berlin behind the "iron curtain", the opening ceremony of the 1974 World Cup was held at the Waldstadion, as were five matches - including the memorable Wasserschlacht von Frankfurt ("Water-battle of Frankfurt), in which the German team defeated Poland 1–0 on a nearly unplayable surface to proceed to the final.
In 1978, improved drainage and undersoil heating were installed.
The stadium continued to host international athletics throughout the 1970s, as well as important European football games as Eintracht Frankfurt continued to be a strong team within Germany.
New events in the 1980s and 90s
The stadium had always attracted national sporting events, with DFB-Pokal (German cup) finals, German Athletics Championships and German Gymnastics Festivals - and several matches of UEFA Euro 1988 - but during the 1980s and 1990s the stadium began to host more and more non-sporting events. Concerts by international acts such as Supertramp, Bruce Springsteen, Madonna, Prince, the Rolling Stones, Tina Turner, U2 and Bon Jovi as well as German artists such as Marius Müller-Westernhagen brought in revenue, and the scheduling of a Michael Jackson concert even caused the important league game between Eintracht Frankfurt and Bayern Munich to be rescheduled. In 1987, the German Protestant Church Day was held at the stadium.
New sports were also brought to the stadium: the 1992 and 1994 Federation Cup in Women's Tennis and from 1991 the Waldstadion became home to Frankfurt Galaxy, an American Football team competing initially in the World League of American Football. The team were the first WLAF team to score points, but went on to lose the inaugural match. Until 2007, when the team was retired, Frankfurt Galaxy maintained a rivalry with Rhein Fire. In 1998 and 2000, the Waldstadion was the venue for the World Bowl, the final match of the NFL Europe.
For much of the 1990s and early 2000s, however, the football that formed the main attraction at the Waldstadion was only second-class in status. Eintracht Frankfurt were relegated to the Second Bundesliga in 1996 for 2 years, then again in 2001 for 2 years, and again in 2004 for one year. Since their return to the top-flight in 2005, Eintracht Frankfurt have managed to keep top-flight football at the stadium.
The ladies were more successful: the first final of the newly introduced Women's European Cup was held at the stadium in May 2002, and the home team of 1. FFC Frankfurt beat Swedish side Umeå IK 2–0 to lift the trophy.
Upon completion of the 2001/2002 season, construction work began in June 2002 on the latest rebuilding of the stadium.
Construction and architecture
The current arena is the fourth on the site. It was designed in 2000 by the Hamburg architects Gerkan, Marg and Partners in collaboration with the Stuttgart engineers Schlaich, Berger und Partner and built from 2002 to 2005 for the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany. While matches continued, the old stadium was pulled down and a new one built on a stand-by-stand basis. Official documents talked of a "rebuilding", but the end result is a brand new stadium on the same site.
The present Commerzbank-Arena is a pure football stadium in contrast to the previous building and has no athletics track. While at the old stadium, some spectators were up to 125 meters from the pitch because of the athletics track, today no spectator is more than 60 meters from the pitch. The 51,500 spectators at the football matches are divided into two ranks, as well as a two-storey Zwischenband (central band) in which is located 74 "business-boxes". During American football games as well as at international football matches, the standing area is usually converted into a seating area, resulting in a reduced capacity of 48,500 spectators. In the games of the 2006 World Cup, the official capacity according to FIFA was 48,000. During concerts, with fans able to stand on the pitch area, the capacity is 65,000. The slightly curved grandstands are embedded in the existing embankments. An integrated garage has 1800 parking spaces. The stadium is 210 meters long and 190 meters wide, has a gross floor area of approximately 110,000 m² and an enclosed space of approximately 480,000 cubic meters.
The most striking feature is the 37,500 m² large tent, which is modeled on a rim with spokes. The roof load of 3,000 tons is supported by 44 main pillars derived by means of wire cables and an outer compression ring on the outer walls of the stadium. The inner roof covered with 9,000 square meters, the entire board, and after presentation of the arena operator, "the largest steel-cable-membrane inner roof" in the world. It can be completely folded away into the centrally mounted, 30 tonne and 31 m³ video cube. The stadium is therefore also called "the biggest convertible in the world". The process of closing and opening of the roof, manufactured from Teflon-coated polyester fabric, takes about 15 to 20 minutes. The roof is not closed in bad weather or snow. The retractable roof is similar to BC Place Stadium in Vancouver, BC, Canada and the new Stadion Narodowy in Warsaw, Poland.
The lockable roof allows for running events in heavy rain, although there were initially some problems with the system: in June 2005 during the final of the Confederations Cup, misaligned runoff channels led to runoff water overflowing onto the pitch near the corner flag, awaking unwelcome memories of the "Water Battle" of 1974.
During normal league use in 2005, the opening mechanism failed due to a hydraulics failure. The rain water collected in the folds of the half-open roof and selectively streamed onto the lawn. There have been no further problems, but the roof is usually left open during Bundesliga games.
The new Waldstadion is primarily designed as a football arena, but can be used for other turf sports like American football and major events. The grandstand offers rooms that are for meetings, conventions and other events in external markets.
The new arena was officially opened at the 2005 FIFA Confederations Cup, the test run for the 2006 World Cup. Both the opening match (Germany 4–3 Australia) and the final (Brazil 4–1 Argentina) were hosted at the stadium.
During the South Korea vs Togo match, the roof was closed over the stadium, despite the weather being dry and sunny, presumably to shade the whole pitch and avoid the effects of the shadow. This decision was criticised by some because it meant the stadium became very hot and humid on an already hot and humid day.
Main users of the new Arena is the football team Eintracht Frankfurt, which has used the stadium as its home base since 1963. The biggest victory yet recorded in the new stadium was achieved in the DFB Cup 3rd Round match against Schalke 04 in the 2005/06 season (6–0). The first European matches in the new stadium took place in the 2006/07 season, against Brøndby (4–0), Palermo (1–2) and Newcastle United (0–0).
In addition, the stadium also serves occasionally as an alternative venue for home games of other teams: 1. FSV Mainz 05 played their qualifying matches for the 2005-06 UEFA Cup against the Armenian representatives Mika and against Keflavík ÍF from Iceland and for the 1st Round proper against Sevilla FC in the Commerzbank Arena.
The women of the local football team 1. FFC Frankfurt defeated Umeå IK 3-2 in the stadium on 24 May 2008 in the final second leg of UEFA Women's Cup, winning the European Cup for the third time and setting up a record for women's club football of 27,500 spectators. SV Wehen Wiesbaden played the first match of the 2007/08 season of the 2nd league in the Commerzbank-Arena, as their own Brita-Arena had not been completed on time. Due to the construction of Frankfurter Volksbank Stadion, FSV Frankfurt from the Second Bundesliga played season 2008/09 at the Commerzbank Arena.
The Turkish Football Federation has also staged several games in the arena, as Turks form a significant ethnic minority in Germany. Beşiktaş won the Turkish Super Cup with a 1-0 win over Galatasaray. Due to the suspension by UEFA of the Turkish national stadium, the qualifying matches for the UEFA Euro 2008 against Malta (final score 2–0 to Turkey), against Moldova (5–0 for the Turks) and against Norway (final score 2–2) were also played here.
The Waldstadion from 1991 to 2007, with a few interruptions, was home stadium for the Frankfurt Galaxy American Football team. The Galaxy were founder members of the World League of American Football, which became NFL Europe, and scored the first on-field points of the league in the inaugural match against the London Monarchs on 23 March 1991 (a match they went on to lose 11:24). NFL Europe folded in 2007, and Frankfurt Galaxy disappeared with them. The stadium hosted World Bowl '98, World Bowl 2000 and World Bowl XV in 2007.
However, American Football is still played at the stadium: since 2008, it has hosted the final of the German Bowl, final match of the German Football League. An average of around 15,000 fans watched the 2008 and 2009 finals.
The stadium will host the opening game and playoff matches of the 2010 EFAF European Championship from 24–31 July.
Other major events
Since the 1980s, the stadium has been host to concerts which attract crowds of up to 60,000 as, for example, in 1987 when Madonna played her first German concert there.
Since the rebuilding of the stadium, the Commerzbank-Arena has hosted international artists such as Michael Jackson, Tina Turner, The Rolling Stones, Depeche Mode, U2, Genesis & Bruce Springsteen, as well as German stars such as Herbert Grönemeyer.
Although the stadium can no longer host Athletics meetings, the International German Gymnastics Festival has returned to the arena, and screenings of major football matches live have also attracted large crowds, for example during UEFA Euro 2008. Since 2006, one of the annual congress' of the German Jehovah's Witnesses has been held at the stadium.
As part of a naming sponsorship by Commerzbank AG, the Waldstadion was renamed the Commerzbank-Arena on 1 May 2005 for ten years. Commerzbank will pay around 30 million Euros to the city hosting company as part of the deal. During the 2005 FIFA Confederations Cup and the 2006 FIFA World Cup, the stadium was officially referred to as the FIFA World Cup Stadium Frankfurt, as FIFA rules do not permit commercial naming of stadia.
The lettering of Commerzbank on the roof of the stadium is one of the largest neon signs in the world, and can reach almost the size of the famous Hollywood Signs.
The renaming of the Waldstadion has been controversial, particularly among fans of Eintracht Frankfurt football club. Many continue to speak of the "Waldstadion," in everyday speech which is reflected by fan chants against commercialization. Even Rolf Mueller, President of Hesse's Sports Organization, sees the loss of the historic name as a loss of sporting identity. In the media, the stadium is sometimes called the World Cup Arena.
As with other modern stadiums with grandstands close to the pitch and comprehensive roofing of spectator stands, the quality of the turf at the Commerzbank-Arena is lower than at a comparable athletics stadium. The turf has had to be completely replaced more often than the old Waldstadion. In the autumn of 2007, a special lighting system was installed that encourages grass growth even on cold dark days, meaning that the turf has to be replaced less often.
A few days after a Madonna concert in September 2008, a league game at the stadium had to be called off due to the state of the pitch. While the turf was replaced after the concert, the grass had not rooted sufficiently in the subsoil and the referee judged that the risk of injury to the players was too great.
In January 2007 a chapel was consecrated in the arena. After the chapels in Berlin's Olympic Stadium and the Veltins-Arena in Gelsenkirchen, this is the third prayer room in a German stadium. The Protestant pastor, Freddie Green, is well known in Germany as a composer of modern church music. In November 2007, the Eintracht Museum in the Commerzbank-Arena was opened. Over 400 square meters of exhibition documented more than one hundred years of Eintracht Frankfurt's history.
In 2010-2011 National Arena was built in Bucharest, using the same project as Commerzbank Arena .
2006 FIFA World Cup
The stadium was one of the venues for the 2006 FIFA World Cup.
The following games were played at the stadium during the World Cup of 2006:
|Date||Time (CET)||Team #1||Result||Team #2||Round||Spectators|
|10 June 2006||
|13 June 2006||
|17 June 2006||
|21 June 2006||
|1 July 2006||
The following musicians have performed at the Waldstadion:
- Bon Jovi
- Celine Dion
- Depeche Mode
- Guns N' Roses
- Herbert Grönemeyer
- Level 42
- Marius Müller-Westernhagen
- Meat Loaf
- Michael Jackson
- The Rolling Stones
- Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band
- Tina Turner
- Justin Timberlake
In August and September 2007, the Commerzbank-Arena temporarily served as the home ground of the newly promoted 2nd Bundesliga side SV Wehen Wiesbaden, because their new stadium, the Brita-Arena, was not ready to host matches until October. The club played four league matches in the stadium, staying undefeated as they won three times and drew once.
In 2008-09, the ground is also home ground of Bornheim based club FSV Frankfurt whose actual stadium Bornheimer Hang was not proved as suitable for the 2nd Bundesliga. Ironically the Bornheimer Hang was renovated for 3rd Liga's needs and now serves as home ground for Eintracht Frankfurt's reserve team, Eintracht Frankfurt U23.
The Commerzbank-Arena was also the home ground of NFL Europe's Frankfurt Galaxy, and hosted three World Bowls. It hosted its third and final World Bowl on June 23, 2007, when the Frankfurt Galaxy lost to the Hamburg Sea Devils in World Bowl XV.
- Commerzbank Arena in Frankfurt, architect: Max Bögl
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- Max Bögl partnering architect: Max Bögl
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