On May 19, the most important European club football match of the season will take place at the Allianz Arena as Bayern Munich play in their home stadium against Chelsea in the Champions League final. But when was the temple of football built? What special features does it have to offer? The building stands out not only for its unique design and the 25,344 fluorescent light bulbs that illuminate it at night.
Before the construction of the arena was approved, the question had to be resolved as to whether Munich even needed a new stadium, and whether it should be built at the location of the city's then-biggest football venue, the Olympiastadion. A proposal to reject the historic arena was turned down, so city officials began looking for a new venue. In the referendum that followed, a 65.8 per cent majority voted in favour of creating a new stadium - 37.5% of voters turned out to make their voices heard, a record in Bavaria. The Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron were then awarded the contract to build the arena, and Allianz SE secured naming rights for the project.
Less than three years
On October 21, 2002, construction began on Europe's newest football stadium. In less than three years, it was finished, and has since become the modern home of Bayern Munich and their local rivals 1860. The first sight to catch one's eye when visiting the stadium is its exterior: 2760 diamond-shaped pads give the structure a unique look. Each is only 0.2 millimetres thick, about equal to that of a sheet of paper. It is the largest shell in the world. Of these, 1056 can be lit in red (Bayern's primary colour), blue (1860's colour), or white.
The arena also has a high-quality pitch, which extends to a width of 68m and a length of 105m: a total area of 7992 square metres. If the grass is ever replaced, 20 truckloads of turf are required, and two-and-a-half days needed. The standard height of the grass is 23mm. The pitch is also regulated by an underground heating system, which can keep the temperature between 35 and 50 degrees Celsius throughout the season. Under the grass there are 14 pipes to collect excess rain water. These are just a few of the details that make a relatively simple concept, a lawn, into a high-tech facility.
Opening in 2005
The first match played at the Allianz Arena was on May 30, 2005, as 1860 earned a 3-2 win in the derby with Nurnberg. A day later, Bayern played against the German national team, winning 4-2 in a friendly match. Both games were sold out, drawing 66,000 spectators. At long last, the €340 million arena was opened.
On January 16, 2006, local authorities approved of an expansion to increase the capacity to 69,901, its current limit for domestic competition. For European and international matches, the capacity remains at 66,000, which is distributed over seven tiers. The arena also includes 2,000 business seats and 400 more for the press, as well as 106 boxes of varying sizes, 165 special seats for the disabled, and stands in the north and south ends of the stadium that can accommodate 13,500. The owners have allowed tenants to decorate the boxes as they wish, the largest such box having room for 62 visitors, while the smallest can hold up to eight. The owners of the private boxes can use their property year-round. In the parking garage, the largest in Europe, there are 9,800 spaces available for cars (130 for the disabled), and 350 for buses. Most visitors arrive by public transport, however.
Food and drink provided
The Allianz Arena includes a total of 28 kiosks and two fan restaurants where stadium classics such as bratwurst are sold, as well as regional specialties such as meatloaf. On game days the hosts are extremely busy, selling an average of 1.23 sausages every second. On average, in four and a half hours, 20,000 sausages, 15,000 soft drinks, and 40,000 can of beers are sold. Payments accepted include cash and the so-called "Arena Card", a debit card that is accepted at any of the 54 cash registers in the stadium.
Besides the great gastronomic offerings, there is an FC Bayern Megastore and a LEGO Kids' Club to see. In addition, there are two 100-square-foot LED video screens and 300 Samsung HD TVs scattered throughout the complex. Currently, the Allianz Arena is building a new special centre, which should be completed later in May.
Before the game
The timing of a football game at the Allianz is scheduled to be accurate to the minute. With 75 minutes left before kick-off, the players leave the press area and enter the stadium. After 35 minutes, they begin to warm-up. And with 10 minutes left, there is a final meeting in the dressing room. In the last five minutes, the players gather in the tunnel; two minutes later the referee gives the signal to move out onto the exquisite pitch. Everything is done meticulously to a standard.
On May 19, we can look forward to an absolute highlight on and off the field!