The Olympiastadion is set to remain the home ground of Hertha BSC for the time being but there are plans for a new home for the Bundesliga club, according to Kicker.
In November 2018, Hertha’s financial director at the time, Ingo Schiller, presented plans to the board for a new stadium with a capacity of 45,000 seats at a reported cost of around €250m.
The report revealed that the club were targeting an opening date of 25 July 2025, to coincide with the club’s 133rd birthday, for a newly developed stadium which is yet to be named.
The club’s current match day venue, the Olympiastadion, is the largest sports ground in Germany. But the stadium which is known to fans of the club as the ‘Oly’ has always been unpopular.
The main reasons for the lack of affection for the stadium, which was completed for the Berlin Olympic games of 1936, is the athletics track which surrounds the pitch plus the fact that apart from the derby against Union Berlin or against top teams the club struggles to fill the 74,000-capacity stadium both of which contribute to a lack of atmosphere.
Jack Woods, a member of the official fan club based in London, the Hertha BSC UK Supporters Club, told GGFN: “The Olympic stadium has history, but we need to stamp our own identity onto somewhere. When the ground is full it has an amazing atmosphere but that is only 10% of the games across the season.”
In the current plans a new arena which is to be built in the northwest of the Olympic Park, in Charlottenburg-Wilhelmsdorf where the Olympiastadion is located, is foreseen. The stadium design that was presented at the club’s AGM in April is based on that of 35-time Argentine champions Boca Juniors. The ground would therefore not be oval or square like most football arenas found in Europe, but rather like the 57,000 capacity Buenos Aires ground, which is officially named the ‘Estadio Alberto J Armando’, it would have interconnected grandstands forming one, compact shape and one steep, separate stand that would close the shape of the entire structure on the south side.
An additional feature of the ground which can also be found at Arsenal’s Emirates stadium will be a huge screen on the external façade. The intention of the screen is for it to be used for promotional partners which would bring additional much needed revenue for the 130-year-old club.
Over 55 different locations have been considered across the city for the new ground. One of the key issues that has been holding up negotiations is the plan to include a number of new residential apartments in the complex. Negotiations with the city council over the use of land have already stalled several times amid concerns from residents about the development plans.
The directors of the club however feel they are getting closer to getting the support needed to build the ground. In the Kicker report, former Ultra and now Hertha President Kay Bernstein said: “For the first time this is starting to feel like it is going to happen, we now are in the position that we have the political will and most importantly support of regional Sports Senator Iris Spranger to build the ground.”
Under the current contract with the managing company of the club’s current home, Olympiastadion Berlin GmbH, Hertha currently has to pay €7.5m per season to use the ground, money which the club would like to see invested in operations. Despite the optimism, with no end to the negotiations in sight and no construction yet having been commenced, for the moment the club are planning to extend their tenancy at the Olympiastadion until 2030.
The two-time champions have not achieved their goal of qualifying for a European competition since the 2017 season however investment does not appear to be the main concern. The club have benefitted from a €250m investment by controversial property investor Lars Windhorst, who now owns 49.9% of the club but it has made little difference to the stability, the Blue and Whites are currently on their sixth manager since Jürgen Klinsmann left after just three months in 2020.
There are however also grounds for optimism, notable success has been achieved in the club’s academy which has produced talents like Jerome and Kevin-Prince Boateng, John Brooks and Marton Dardai. The U19s reached the national final in 21/22, which they lost to Dortmund, a title which they won in 17/18. Hertha’s U17s also reached the final six times and won the German title four times in the past decade.
Whatever the outcome of the planning discussions, the proposed new ground brings with it justified hopes amongst the fans for renewed success. Mark Charlton of the Hertha BSC UK Supporters Club commented: “As fans we are excited at the prospect of a new stadium which for sure would bring a new dynamic to the club, although the big games which draw large crowds like Bayern and Dortmund and European fixtures probably will still be played in the Olympiastadion as we have been informed.”
Hertha may be living in the shadow of their rivals Union Berlin who are currently basking in their qualification of their second-round qualification in the Europa League, but as second-placed Freiburg who finished fifth last season showed a new stadium can bring new motivation.
As to whether the Berliners can get back to their most recent heyday, the period between 1998-2006 in which European qualification was achieved in all but one season, 2003/4, at this time, at least remains doubtful.
At the half-way point of the season, ‘Die Alte Dame’ occupy 15th, one place above the relegation playoff position where they finished in the 21/22 season.