Union Berlin will surprise the world of football once more, this time changing their stadium into a massive living room. 750 sofas are expected on the field, all directed at the 700-inch TV surrounded by actual wallpaper covering the stands…
Union is considered one of the German ‘cult clubs’ and is known for a very vivid fan community. The stadium was built partly by supporters, it’s also used as possibly the largest Christmas vigil venue. This summer the club will again choose a different path than most event organisers, trying to transform the Old Forestry stadium into a giant living room.
The idea came from Gerald Ponesky, event organizer who decided to use what many fans say about the stadium and overall atmosphere at Union games: that it’s a second home, almost a living room.
Image: Compact Team
From June 13 it’s going to look like an actual living room, no metaphor here. The east stand and parts of both end zones will be covered by a retro wallpaper. A large lamp is planned in the north-east corner, while in the central part of the wallpaper a 700-inch TV will be set. Even the sound columns are, according to released renderings, expected to copy those used in home sound systems.
All you need more is a comfy sofa. And this is where the fans are asked to step in. Admission to the stadium is free, but you need to bring your own sofa. Sounds crazy? Organisers agree they were unsure of the reactions.
Image: Compact Team
After all, there’s room for 750 sofas, but are there 750 people willing to bring theirs? As it turns out, yes! Only in the first day Union had 100 spots booked and people are asking whether there’s room for a truck to bring the furniture or should it be lifted manually. Overall response is described as amazing and extremely positive. That’s great news, because total capacity of the stadium during the ‘living room period’ will reach about 12,000-13,000. Apart from roughly 3,000 sofa-capacity parts of end terraces and the entire main grandstand will be open.
The huge living room will be open throughout the World Cup and each sofa-holder may count on a protective cover in case of rain, access to small tables and a lamp. Yes, a lamp, because it’s all about feeling cosy, so no floodlight will be used and the ambience should thus feel a bit more intimate.
Can this unusual effort prove successful not only in terms of popularity, but also commercially? It seems possible. Electricity use will be limited, the event doesn’t require excessive spending on infrastructure and it makes the stadium live a month more than the 2. Bundesliga season offers.
The main grandstand’s corporate facilities will be commercialized just like in regular events. And last, but surely not least, if someone brings a sofa, he should get thirsty for a good beer eventually, boosting catering revenue.