It's been dismissed for years, now a massive U-turn was done in just a few days. Hertha and the Berlin authorities will both examine how to convert Olympiastadion into a football-only ground.
It's been considered common knowledge for a few years now that Olympiastadion in Berlin is not available for conversion into a smaller football stadium. Why?
First, just 13 years ago a massive €242-million reconstruction was financed by taxpayer funds and another reconstruction so soon would put that expense into question. Second, it's Germany's largest athletic stadium, only one potentially feasible to hold the Olympics again with only minor alterations. Third, the stadium is a listed monument as part of the iconic Olympiapark and it was understood that removing its running track would be considered an excessive intervention.
That's why Hertha commissioned a feasibility study in 2016 in order to establish where a new 55,000-capacity stadium could be built. Albert Speer + Partner produced two satisfying options: one beside Olympiastadion and one south of Berlin.
Neither of these were desirable (if acceptable) for Berlin authorities, who currently have Hertha bound with Olympiastadion lease until 2025. Should the club leave afterwards, the city would be left with a massive white elephant and no tenant able to make proper use of it.
As it turned out last week, Hertha did something else, too. They approached architects of Olympiastadion's 2004 reconstruction, GMP Architekten, and commissioned another feasibility study from them as well. This time in order to establish whether the giant is possible to convert into a football-specific one. And yes, the outcome is positive.
So now, following a number of public statements, it turns out that both Hertha and the city of Berlin declare cooperation in order to work out a way to make it happen. Structurally it shouldn't be too challenging, possibly even leaving the current roof intact, though expanding it inwards. The field would be lowered and new stands erected within the current bowl.
One major challenge would be... where should Hertha play during the reconstruction? Two currently examined options are existing Friedrich-Ludwig-Jahn-Sportpark and construction of a large temporary stadium within the Olympiapark.