Bayer 04 will christen the new BayArena on Saturday nearly 30 years to the day that the Werkself played their first Bundesliga home game on the same spot. The final adjustments are being made to ensure everything is ready for the opening of the stadium on Saturday. After 16 months construction, the first competitive game in the redeveloped stadium is just round the corner. "These days we normally build family homes rather than projects like this one. It's an incredible achievement," declared project manager Hans Dannenberg.
Best possible conditions for football
The Werkself return to their revamped home to face Hoffenheim and Bayer 04 managing director Wolfgang Holzhäuser is glad the building work is over: "We were here while the building was going on. Our staff have had to put up with a lot and I'd like to thank everyone involved for all their hard work. That particularly applies to our neighbours and local residents. We asked for a high level of co-operation and we got it."
A lot has changed since work started at the BayArena on 17 April 2008. The old West Stand has been replaced by a brand new, state-of-the-art building. This provides a lot more space for the players, staff, VIP guests and members of the press. "The most important factor was the functionality of the sporting side of things. The old facilities no longer met the standards expected in the Bundesliga. Now, we probably have the best medical provision in Germany and the best possible conditions for football," enthused Wolfgang Holzhäuser.
A dream come true
The players’ facilities cover an area four times bigger than the previous one and offer greater comfort for players undergoing treatment. After hopefully successful home games and training sessions teh squad will be able to take advantage of an aqua jogging pool with adjustable floor. The addition of an extra tier has increased the stadium capacity to 30,210. The 217 metre wide roof is a real trade mark.
The redeveloped BayArena is a dream come true for Wolfgang Holzhäuser: "We wanted to create something comparable to the the Bayer Cross and I believe we've succeeded in building a landmark for Leverkusen. I think the stadium is wonderful and fantastic. It was right to install red and black seats and the roof structure is very impressive."
Opening event on Thursday evening
The original idea of installing a Bayer Cross on top of the roof is no longer on the agenda due to increased steel prices. The retention of the existing Bayer Cross in the Chempark and the renovation of the old Bayer tower form the background to this decision and as the MD Holzhäuser explained, "At the end of the day, we don't want to cover Leverkusen with crosses."
An official opening event was held on Thursday evening with invited business partners, sponsors and VIP guests in attendance. And everybody connected with Leverkusen is hoping that Bayer can get off to a winning start on Saturday.