The club from the capital city finished in an excellent 4th place in the table in the past Bundesliga season. This means that Union will play in the Champions League for the first time in their history. Despite the fact that their stadium meets UEFA requirements, the Berliners have decided that the European competition matches will be played at Olympiastadion
FC Union Berlin are writing a fabulous story. First, in 2019 Die Eisernen were promoted to the elite for the first time since German reunification. In the 2020/21 season, the club finished 7th, which allowed them to play in the group phase of the Europa Conference League. A year later, they finished 5th in the Bundesliga, which meant an appearance in the Europa League. In this competition, the club made it all the way to the round of 16, suffering a two-legged defeat to Belgium's Royale Union Saint-Gilloise. Last season, Union finished fourth in the German elite, earning direct promotion to the Champions League group stage.
The club's home ground, Stadion An der Alten Försterei, has a capacity of just over 22,000 spectators, of which only around 3,500 can be seated. The stadium was upgraded between 2008-2009 and 2011-2013, with club supporters helping with the work in a voluntary effort. The Berliners' chairman, Dirk Zingler, said that the stadium could though host Champions League matches because UEFA allowed the use of standing sectors. However, the decision was made to play European cup matches at the much more spacious Olympiastadion to allow as many fans as possible to attend matches.
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Union have 56,000 Fan Club members, more than double the capacity of their home arena, making buying a ticket for Die Eisernen matches an extremely difficult task. The Olympic Stadium can hold more than 74,000 people. The Union consulted former players and staff, fans, members as well as sponsors on the issue before the decision was made.
I understand the disappointment of those who would have liked to see Champions League matches at the Alte Försterei and would have even forgone their own ticket to do so. But in essence, our decision ended up placing the possibility of being able to offer tickets for these games to all fans, above that of playing them in front of a rather smaller group of Unioners at the Alte Försterei.
Last November, the Berliners presented their vision for the modernisation of Alte Försterei. Union is expected to invest around €150 million in the project. Once the work is completed, the capacity of the stadium itself is to increase from the current 22,000 to around 37,500. Zingler said that Union expect to play the 2024/25 campaign at Olympiastadion while work is being carried out at their home ground.
Check out how Union Berlin's stadium looks against the rest of the pack from the Bundesliga: