The president of the German Athletics Association (DLV) is to launch a campaign that will seek to preserve Berlin’s Olympiastadion amid plans by Bundesliga club Hertha Berlin to repurpose the site into a football-only venue.

In March, Hertha announced plans to build a 55,000-capacity stadium on the site of the Olympiastadion by 2025. The team currently rents the venue, which was originally built to stage Berlin’s summer Games in 1936.

The club has proposed building a new stadium on the Olympiapark site where the Olympiastadion itself sits. Hertha’s rental agreement for the Olympiastadion expires in 2025, by which point the club intends to be in situ at the new facility.

However, DLV president Clemens Prokop feels the redevelopment of the iconic stadium would hinder Berlin’s chances of hosting future editions of the Olympics. Prokop is to support a campaign that will call for a referendum on the subject.

Hertha has said that the Berlin State Federal Government will support the club’s plans but the DLV, together with the Berlin Athletics Association (BLV), is set to fight to retain the stadium in its current guise.

According to the Inside the Games website, Prokop said: “With such a repurposing of the Olympic Stadium, Berlin would thus remove not only any chance of ever securing the Olympic Games, but would also remove itself from its position in the first league of international sports metropolises.

“Saying goodbye to the Olympic Stadium means that there will be no more international athletics championships in Berlin and there will be no more World Championships in Germany.

“For this reason, we will fight to keep the track in the Olympic Stadium. Among other measures, together with the Berlin Athletics Association we will be launching the initiative ‘Save the Berlin Olympic Stadium’ and will see if it is possible to petition for a referendum on it.”

Hertha is the only Bundesliga club that does not own its own stadium. Upon announcing plans to redevelop the Olympiastadion, the club pointed to the fact that it only fills 64 per cent of the 74,000-seat ground on match days, compared to a league average of 92 per cent. It is hoped that a more suitably-sized stadium would aid the club’s progress.

Image: Rebecca Leisten