German Bundesliga football club Schalke 04 has hailed an important landmark by announcing that it has paid off the loan it took out to develop its Veltins-Arena.

The development of the stadium created history as the first major sports facility in Germany to be entirely privately financed. Built at a cost of €191m (£171.4m/$215.5m), the Veltins-Arena opened in August 2001 and Schalke has said it made the final payment on a €123m loan for the project on Monday.

The Veltins-Arena remains one of Germany’s leading stadia and represented Schalke’s largest investment in the club’s history. Schalke has also continually invested in the stadium, with various improvements raising its seating capacity from 60,204 at opening to the current 62,271.

The Veltins-Arena has also offered free Wi-Fi to fans and visitors since 2016, while the stadium’s video cube was also replaced that year and a new LED floodlight system was installed in 2018.

Peter Peters, Schalke’s chief financial officer, was involved in the project from planning to completion. He said: “We invested courageously about 20 years ago and created value.

“The construction was a milestone for the entire appeal of FC Schalke 04. Even today, the Veltins-Arena meets the highest demands. I am sure that we will enjoy our home for several more decades.”

Image: Schalke 04