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Hertha Berlin retains stadium vision despite major blow

German Bundesliga football club Hertha Berlin has said it remains focused on developing a new stadium on the site of its current Olympiastadion home, despite being dealt what is being reported as a major setback for its plans.

It was disclosed yesterday (Tuesday) that 1892ste Baugenossenschaft, a cooperative that owns residential buildings on land adjacent to the Olympiastadion where Hertha is seeking to build a new stadium, is no longer willing to sell its properties to the club.

The group said that while it is happy to continue talks with the club, it is also keen to explore the option of expanding their properties with local authorities. In November, Hertha revealed it is targeting an opening date of July 25, 2025 for a new-look Olympiastadion, with a new stadium the favoured choice over redevelopment of its historic current home.

Built for the German capital’s hosting of the 1936 summer Olympic Games, the Olympiastadion has been Hertha’s home since 1963. However, with a current capacity of around 74,000, Hertha is seeking a more intimate home for football matches.

The stadium primarily serves as the home of Hertha but is also a major athletics venue, having hosted the 2018 European Championships. In 2017, Hertha detailed plans to build a 55,000-seat stadium on the site of the current facility.

Reacting to the decision of the 1892ste Baugenossenschaft, a joint statement by the respective factions of the Senate of Berlin, sport policy speakers Dennis Buchner (SPD), Philipp Bertram (left) and Nicole Ludwig (Greens), read: “After the cooperative has declared that it will not sell the land and the houses, a Hertha stadium in the Olympic grounds cannot be realised.”

Sports Senator Andreas Geisel told the Berliner Morgenpost newspaper: “The solution to the housing issue is central to us. We have always told Hertha that not a single apartment can fall victim to a new stadium construction. We will now go into further discussions with Hertha to explore the possibilities that still exist. It’s clear: Hertha belongs to Berlin.”

The Morgenpost added that the verdict from the cooperative is likely to deal a critical blow to Hertha’s hopes of developing a new stadium in the Olympiapark by 2025. The club said in a statement: “The deadline of 31 March 2019 to purchase the apartments in the Sportforumstraße in no way touches on our plans to play from 2025 in a separate football stadium. Likewise, it remains the express wish of Hertha BSC to build this stadium in Berlin, ideally in the Olympiapark. Our project could be an important impetus for the further development of this unique location.

“Hertha BSC was aware from the beginning that the Berlin construction and housing cooperative of 1892ste Baugenossenschaft wanted to complete the sale by the end of March 2019. That’s why Hertha BSC has proposed to the state of Berlin replacement locations for the residential complex in the past 18 months. Their acquisition would have required the approval of the state of Berlin due to the limited available space in the immediate vicinity.

“Despite intensive efforts and contrary to public (reports), positive statements on the part of the Senate to support our project and thus the location of Berlin for Hertha BSC, corresponding decisions of the policy have so far unfortunately failed to materialise. Hertha BSC was always aware that such a situation could occur. First, we will evaluate the facts internally and in due time publicly comment on the further steps of our stadium project.”