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‘German Wembley’ solution proposed for Olympiastadion

Partners at German architecture firm GMP have suggested that Berlin’s Olympiastadion could become the ‘German Wembley’ if Bundesliga club Hertha Berlin ends up leaving the historic venue.

Hertha has outlined plans to build a new stadium and last year the club said that the Olympiapark would be its preferred location. The club favours a new stadium over the redevelopment of the 74,000-seat Olympiastadion, which was built for the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin and has served as Hertha’s home since 1963.

Hertha has been attempting to progress plans for a new home for several years and the club favours a more intimate stadium without an athletics track. In November 2018, the club targeted an opening date of July 2025 for a new stadium.

As well as Hertha matches, the Olympiastadion stages athletics events and concerts, and last year an agreement was reached for the venue to continue hosting the final of the DFB-Pokal club football competition until at least 2024.

The German national team also plays selected matches at the Olympiastadion but GMP partner Hubert Nienhoff has proposed that the venue could become the team’s sole venue if Hertha does choose to build a new stadium.

GMP oversaw the renovation of the Olympiastadion ahead of the 2006 FIFA World Cup, where the stadium hosted numerous matches including the final.

In an interview with German news website t-online, Nienhoff said: “What I think is a shame is that the Berlin Olympic Stadium is increasingly being presented as unsuitable for football games.

“I just can’t understand it, especially because I’ve seen football games in the Olympic Stadium from so many different positions – be it upper or lower tier, east stand or main grandstand. I was always impressed by the volume. I always had a lot of fun in the Olympic Stadium.”

Nienhoff is not in favour of Hertha moving out of the Olympiastadion but said the venue could be repurposed if the Bundesliga club did leave. He said: “Before it is completely fallow, why don’t we finally use it as a national stadium?”

Nienhoff’s colleague Hans Joachim Pap added: “If the Olympic Stadium were to be converted into a pure football stadium without affecting the historical structure, the complete modernisation since the commitment for the 2006 World Cup would have cost less than half what the new Wembley building would have cost in England.

“Germany would finally have its ‘German Wembley’, which does not have to fear comparisons with the original.”

Image: Pudelek/CC BY-SA 3.0/Edited for size