It’s really close now. Both mayoral candidates support adding 25,000 seats to the home of 1. FC Köln. One major issue up for debate is the optimum model of running the project.
On September 13 zitizens of Cologne in Germany will elect their next mayor. The race is between Henriette Rieker (independent) and Jochen Ott (SPD). For fans of 1. FC Köln the choice is… somehwat irrelevant. Because it turns out both candidates support the expansion of RheinEnergie Stadion by additional 25,000 seats.
Currently the stadium holds 50,374 people, which means it would gain 50% in capacity terms. Depending on detailed figures it might thus be the fourth or even second largest throughout the country (Bayern and Hertha both have stadia of circa 75,000).
Fot: Holger Eilhard (cc: by-nc-sa)
The support from both candidates is important as the club would welcome the expansion. During a recent panel meeting club officials received declarations of commitment from both Rieker and Ott.
“The city should get together with 1. FC Köln and get the expansion underway. We should address this now or forget any major games for Cologne”, said Jochen Ott.
Rieker agreed entirely. “Yes, the stadium needs an expansion. Also, the transport infrastructure has to be expanded accordingly. At the same time, the city must not be the owner of the stadium. We shouldn’t include it in our budgetary figures”, she announced.
Ownership is a major issue concerning any future developments. Currently the stadium is owned entirely by the city and talks about transferring it to the club began a few years back. Already in 2010 1. FC Köln offered € 60 million. However, as the official value stood at €110 million, authorities feared accusations of illegal state aid might be raised.
Currently there are a couple models under consideration. One suggests the club should buy it and then run the expansion itself. Another proposes forming a joint company between the city and the club to operate and expand the stadium.
Where would the extra 25,000 go?
According to current suggestions the 2006 World Cup stadium would retain its current shape after expansion. This would mean corners would be left empty, while additional decks/rows would be added on top of all existing stands – 7,000 along each side and 5,500 behind goals.
Based on the brilliant photo by Holger Eilhard that you may see above we prepared a quasi-rendition of how the upgraded stadium might look like when finished. Please keep in mind it’s in no way official and may not have too much in common with the (still not released) final vision for Cologne.