That is the capacity of Germany's largest football stadium, SIGNAL IDUNA PARK.
If you told Dortmund's residents about a football temple with more than 80,000 places within their city 30 years ago, a stadium with a glass front, grass heating and the biggest standing stand, they would have given you a lenient smile. Today, the biggest football stadium in Germany is located on the "Strobelallee." Capacity is exactly 80,552. However, it is another story that this "giant" nearly ruined Borussia financially. A chapter, which was luckily closed at the end of May 2006.
The stadium at the Strobelallee is simply called "The Temple" by the fans and quite often called "the nicest stadium in Germany" by press, professionals and celebrities. After the completion of the third extension phase it is now one of the biggest and most comfortable stadiums in Europe. A long construction and renovation process has found its climax with the final renovation steps for the 2006 FIFA World Cup. There’s always something to do, even during the summer months. In 2012 alone, BVB invested 10 million euros in the renovation of the ageing stadium. Not only was the pitch itself replaced, but also the drainage system in the southern half of the field. The south terrace was reinforced by supporting measures while concrete rehabilitation work was done in the northern part of the stadium. On the east terrace, in the area of the former press room, seven luxury boxes were added. New state-of-the-art digital cameras were installed to increase security, particularly in the visitor’s and the lower south terraces, and new scoreboards were put in place the year before.
The story of the stadium began more than 40 years ago. To be exact, it started on April 5, 1965. After four long years of discussions about an extension and modernization of the old "Rote Erde" stadium, the city's works and finance committee heard the idea of not extending Rote Erde stadium, but rather building a new football stadium in the area next to it. The first step on the way to a new stadium, a so-called "twin stadium" since it would be built next to "Rote Erde" stadium was made.
However, the project only got its decisive impulse at the beginning of 1970 when Cologne passed on building a new stadium. For this reason, the way for Dortmund's 1974 World Cup application acceptance was paved and with it the building of a new stadium. Financing of the Westfalenstadion without state funding would have not been possible.
Nine years after the city council's decision, on April 2, 1974, it was finally time: 54,000 spectators, mostly standing, found places in the Westfalenstadion. It was inaugurated with a friendly match against Schalke 04. It still has not lost any of its fascination today. Far from it. Radio commentators gush about the "Scala of German Football" when they report on this unique aura. The closeness to the pitch, the acoustics under the roof and the unique enthusiasm of the football fans in the "Revier." All this creates an electrifying atmosphere which draws spectators into its spell and is feared by opponents. In a recent poll (May 2006) the professionals of the 18 Bundesliga teams named the Hamburg (28 percent) and Dortmund (27 percent) stadiums as their favorites.
Strictly speaking, the history of SIGNAL IDUNA PARK goes back into the year of 1961. That's when the sport committee was considering an extension of the "Rote Erde Stadium" for the first time. At this time, right before the change of structure in the "Revier" and the coal and steel crisis, the money was as tight as it is today. Therefore, it took another ten years until October 4, 1971, when the city council decided to build the Westfalenstadion. The question of the financing could not have been solved any faster.
In 1966, the German Football Association (DFB) already accepted the bid for hosting the 1974 World Cup. However, Dortmund's plans to build a stadium in a conventional style, spending 30M Euros, threatened to fall through shortly after. Despite the clear decision of the city council, the administrative department kept checking the possibility to extend the old stadium in order to save money.
In May 1970, head of Dortmund sports department Erich Rüttel helped to finally get the idea accepted by suggesting building the stadium in a palette construction after the example of the Canadian Olympic City Montreal (1976). The expenses were cut in half, originally it was 27M German Marks (about 14M Euro) was discussed. After the completion of the construction work the expenses only amounted to 7M German Marks.
Just five months later, on October 19, 1970, the council approved these plans and decided to start building the Westfalenstadion the following year. Over 80 percent of the expenses (overall 17M Euro) were covered by the DFB, the Federal Republic of Germany, the lottery and donations. The city only covered 3M German Marks because they realized in time that the 1974 World Cup Tournament would offer the unique chance to build a suitable arena for the future. Without the acceptance of the World Cup, the city would not have had any subsidies. Furthermore, there was already damage to the temporary south stands at the "Rote Erde" stadium and a document from the planning committee stated: "Capacity will decrease to 25,000 after the disassembly of this stand."
The Westfalenstadion would offer space for 56,000 spectators. After completion capacity was 54,000, however, just 17,000 seats. The then BVB president Heinz Günther especially praised the fact that most of the places (47,000) were covered. "A roof over the head of the poor man." At that time this was not taken for granted.
At the 1974 World Cup, Zaire, Scotland, Sweden, Brazil and runners-up Holland played their first round matches at the Westfalenstadion. Dortmund`s football fever was back. This enthusiasm, that ruled the glorious years of the 1950s and 1960s, flared back up during the days of the World Cup and not only carried over to the matches but, also to the 2nd Bundesliga. Often more than 45,000 fans attended the BVB matches, approximately three times as many as at the "Rote Erde" stadium. BVB benefitted from its new stadium immensely. In June 1976, BVB returned to the Bundesliga and celebrated its comeback on the European stage in 1983. They won the German Cup (DFB Pokal) in 1989, the German Championship in 1995, 1996 and 2002 and reached three European finals. In 1997 they won one of these; the most important against Juventus Turin in the 1997 UEFA Champions League.
The spectators experienced the Westfalenstadion in its original state for 18 years, until 1992. Overall there were five drastic changes in the next 14 years. In 1992, the capacity decreased to 42,800 spectators due to the conversion of the North Stands standing places into seating. Just three years later, within "Extension Phase One", the West and East Stands were enlarged by 6,000 seats each. The capacity increased to 68,600 in the second extension phase of 1999. The South Stands (Südtribüne), the epicenter of Dortmund's football enthusiasm, was enlarged to 24,454 places and became Europe's largest stadium standing area. The standing places convert to seats for international matches.
The installation of the corner areas finally started on May 6, 2002. 15 meter long drilled piles went into the ground of the North and South areas and got placed in the future stairways. The piles transferred the incredible load of 3,000 tons of each roof to stable ground. The foundation for the stilts and stairways will be supported on these piles. The construction of the stadium roof is another highly demanding engineer task. The corner pylons in the stadium, which would obstruct the view of the new seats in the extended corner area, are replaced by eight yellow steel pylons that are installed outside the stadium.
The third extension phase was completed on September 13, 2003. This does not only result in an increased capacity of 14,000 spectators but BVB is also setting new measures in hospitality. With a total of 3,450 hospitality places, SIGNAL IDUNA PARK also possesses the Bundesliga's largest capacity in this area. Nevertheless, the circumstances in Dortmund are right: The catering areas only accommodate a small percentage of full capacity.
Meanwhile, the 62 meter high yellow pylons set a distinctive exclamation point in Dortmund's skyline. Since December 2005, the letters of the new sponsor, which are 3.5 meters high, are visible from the B54 and B1. They are black during the day and light up white at night.
After the enlargement, BVB fans proudly accepted their temple immediately. The fabulous spectator records of the past years make this very obvious. A breathtaking construction and phenomenal fans are the best requirements for many enthusiastic football parties in one of the greatest (and largest) stadiums in the Bundesliga. After the 2006 World Cup renovations (among these were the removal of the last seats from 1974 and the dismantling of the lower tiers) the stadium now holds exactly 80,708 spectators.
Within these 32 years, only one footballer has had really bad experiences in the "Scala" on Strobelallee, Braunschweig's Danilo Popivoda. On April 23, 1977, Popivoda was free in front of the Borussia goal, attempted to shoot, slipped on the grass and landed straight on his face as the ball stopped right in front of the goal line. The match between Borussia and Braunschweig ended in a goal-less draw.