Düsseldorf targets handball record with European Championship bid

The City of Düsseldorf is targeting a new world record by launching a bid to stage games at the 2024 European Men’s Handball Championship at Merkur Spiel-Arena, home of Bundesliga football club Fortuna Düsseldorf.

The European Handball Federation (EHF) awarded Germany the hosting rights to Euro 2024 back in June 2018, but the German Handball Federation (DHB) has yet to decide on its host cities. The application process closed earlier this month, with an announcement expected in May, and Düsseldorf has confirmed it wants to play a central role in the tournament.

The city’s bid includes the 54,600-capacity Merkur Spiel-Arena hosting the tournament’s opening game. An attendance in excess of 50,000 would set a world record for a handball match. The ISS Dome arena has also been put forward as a venue and with Düsseldorf also bidding for games during Germany’s staging of football’s UEFA Euro 2024, Mayor Thomas Geisel is targeting a major sporting year for the city.

“I am sure that the European Handball Championship in Düsseldorf would be in good hands,” Geisel said, according to the RP Online website. “2024 can be a mega sporting year in the state capital.”

Michael Brill, managing director of Düsseldorf events promoter D.LIVE, added: “Such an opening game in front of more than 50,000 spectators in the arena is an exciting project. Our retractable roof and the heated interior are two of the arguments that set us apart from other venues.”

EHF Euro 2020 concluded at the weekend, setting record attendance levels across its three host nations of Sweden, Norway and Austria. This year’s Men’s Euro marked the first edition with 24 national teams, and to be held across three countries.

A new EHF Euro record of almost 500,000 fans flocked to arenas in the six host cities, including Stockholm’s Tele2 Arena – the first football stadium to host the tournament’s final. In the tournament’s debrief, Swedish organising committee chief executive Krister Bergström said the Austrian venues in Graz and Vienna had been “more or less” sold out on all match days, with over 152,000 fans attending the games.

The Trondheim Spektrum was sold out for all Norwegian matches, with the arena at least 75% full for all group C matches. Malmö was also at least 75% full on average for all matches, and the match days involving Sweden in Gothenburg were sold out.

By the end of the main round over 420,000 spectators had attended Euro matches, breaking the previous record at the same stage (400,000) set by Poland in 2016.

Image: Merkur Spiel-Arena