German Bundesliga football club Union Berlin has presented its vision to transform Stadion An der Alten Försterei into one of the best stadiums in Europe.
Union is seeking to drive forward with plans first presented in 2017, only to be postponed by the outbreak of COVID-19. At the club’s general meeting, Union gave further information on the expansion plans, including what it claimed was a milestone for the project.
Union has exercised the right of first refusal laid down in the heritage building lease agreement with the state of Berlin by acquiring the stadium property. For the first time since the sports facilities at the Alte Försterei were inaugurated in 1920, the site is now owned by Union.
Union outlined that the construction project is now much more extensive than originally planned and, in addition to the already disclosed plans, also takes into account future requirements. The construction phase will begin in the first quarter of 2023 with the renovation of the Forsthauses, which dates from the mid-19th century.
Before the actual renovation of the stadium begins, the clubhouse and – as part of the traffic concept – a multi-storey car park will be built. In addition, the training ground will be redesigned, including the addition of a social building for the first team.
“We can speak here with full conviction of a generational project that will have a lasting impact on the Union and raise its infrastructure to a new level,” said Union president Dirk Zingler. “The planning is progressing well, so we are currently assuming that construction on the buildings around the stadium will start next year.”
Union is expected to invest around €150m (£131.1m/$156.4m) in the project. The stadium itself is set to see its capacity rise from the current 22,000 to around 37,500, once work is complete.
Through this, the three standing room grandstands will be rebuilt. In 2008 and 2009, some 2,000 Union fans and members contributed around 140,000 unpaid hours to help redevelop the stands to their current status.
The ‘An der Alten Försterei’ Stadionbetriebs AG is currently anticipating a two-year construction period for the project. Zingler said Union expects to play its 2024-25 home games at the Olympiastadion, home of Bundesliga rival Hertha, whilst work takes place.