Berlin: Uncertainty over Hertha's relocation scheme

source: Tagesspiegel.de / StadiumDB.com

Berlin: Uncertainty over Hertha's relocation scheme Settled in the middle of Bundesliga table, Hertha are still pushing to build their 50,000+ arena on the outskirts of Olympiapark, a short walk from Olympiastadion. But neither the authorities, nor local residents, nor the Berlin public are in with the plan. For now.

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The Berlin senate was expected to release its analysis of Hertha's new stadium plan in late 2018. The self-imposed deadline wasn't met. Then it was the first quarter of 2019. Failed again.

For Hertha it means that sealing a long term lease of the 53,600 square meters in the first quarter also proved impossible. But even if the senate had a positive report on its tables, another hurdle still hasn't been cleared. Hertha failed to reach an agreement with local housing association. The club would have to find satisfying alternative homes for tenants of 24 apartments within Olympiapark, which still hasn't happened.

Berlin authorities overall haven't been too happy with Hertha's plans anyway, seeing their anchor tenant leaving Olympiastadion. Keeping the historical monument operational is a major issue and without Hertha paying for upkeep it would be a major financial burden.

Olympiastadion

With these obstacles in mind, SPD, Left and Greens (governing majority in Berlin's parliament) have distanced themselves from Hertha's relocation plans. It doesn't mean that the scheme is dead, it's simply a much greater struggle than expected. Hertha has presented several options of locating the stadium within Olympiapark, all of them seen critically by authorities for a number of reasons.

Meanwhile, the football club is hoping to seal the land agreement by year end. It's necessary for their timeline to be met. Work on detailed design would have to commence in early 2020 for the grounbreaking date of 2022 to be safe and for Hertha to open the stadium on its 133th anniversary, in July of 2025. Of course it's not about the anniversary, rather about current Olympiastadion lease expiring a month earlier.

As if it wasn't enough, Tagesspiegel has commissioned a representative survey of Berlin residents, which sees nearly two thirds either against the plan or simply not caring at all how it goes. In more detail, 42.4% people are against any new major stadium within Berlin and 22.7% don't have an opinion. While public support is not crucial in a private project, it might steer politicians in making the final consideration.

As we've written before, Hertha Berlin does not see a future for the team in Olympiastadion. The venue is roughly 50% too large and its athletic layout spoils the atmosphere and sightlines for fans. Also, the commercial potential is very limited.

For these reasons, Hertha sees no other option but to build a private stadium. The city would do a lot to avoid it and secure further lease of Olympiastadion, talks are expected to continue. The stadium issue will also be taken up during the Hertha shareholders' meeting on May 19.

Should the Olympiapark plan fail, other locations within Berlin would likely be considered. Option of moving outside city limits, to Brandenburg, might also resurface, though they're supported neither by Hertha's fanbase, nor by the wider public.

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