German Bundesliga football club Eintracht Frankfurt has revealed plans to expand Commerzbank-Arena to a capacity of around 60,000 as part of an agreement that will see it become the operator of its home stadium.
Eintracht and the City of Frankfurt, owner of the Commerzbank-Arena, have agreed on the key terms for the future use and development of the stadium from July 1, 2020. That will be the day following the expiry of a contract which has existed since 2005 between Sportpark Stadion Frankfurt am Main Gesellschaft für Projektentwicklungen (SSF) and Stadion Frankfurt Management.
Eintracht and the City have signed a letter of intent on a new deal that is set to run through to June 30, 2035, and will be developed into a final agreement in the coming weeks. Under the agreement, Eintracht will receive full rights to use the stadium, including the surrounding training area, as a year-round renter. The club currently pays the City €8m (£6.89m/$8.92m) per year to rent the stadium, which is halved if it is playing in the second tier 2. Bundesliga.
Under the new deal, Eintracht will be granted the right to sublet the stadium for the likes of concerts and other sporting events. The club will also assume control of catering and the marketing of commercial rights to the stadium.
The Commerzbank-Arena first opened in 1925 and has since undergone several renovations, most recently ahead of its status as a venue for Germany’s staging of the 2006 FIFA World Cup. It currently has a capacity of 51,500 for football matches and the City has committed to expand this to around 60,000 seats by the 2023-24 season at the latest.
This redevelopment project will centre on the conversion of the upper part of the northwest section of the stadium from a seating area to one that incorporates safe standing. The club will bear responsibility to “invest heavily” in the development and renewal of the stadium’s digital infrastructure over the coming years.
Eintracht board member Axel Hellmann said: “We are pleased that after long and not always easy discussions with the City, we have found a model of cooperation that can be looked upon for us, for the city, but also for the fans, spectators and partners of the stadium as a win-win-win situation.
“The agreement ensures that the stadium’s commercial exploitation rights will be transferred in full to Eintracht Frankfurt, and that the stadium will also be perceived much more as the home of Eintracht in future. This means that 15 years after the opening of the Commerzbank-Arena, we will be writing a new chapter from next summer and entering into a new stage of development regarding the business activities of Eintracht Frankfurt.”
City Councillor Markus Frank added: “Through tough, but mutually valued, fair negotiations, we have succeeded together in developing a viable and sustainable solution for the future operation of our stadium. With this declaration of intent, whose implementation into a contract is still under the reserve of the committee, we have taken into account all different interests.”
Image: Eintracht Frankfurt