Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

The Light Fantastic

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

The Light Fantastic

Article excerpt

The future face of football stadia has been unveiled.

Glowing like an alien mothership on the outskirts of the city the Allianz Arena in Munich is simply awesome.

The gigantic stadium - shared by big boys Bayern and neighbours TSV 1860 - is shrouded in a wall of translucent neon panels that change colour to either red or blue to match the shirts of whichever home side is in action on the day.

The hi-tech temple hosted its first games and left fans gaping in wonder this month as 1860 beat regional rivals FC Nurnburg 3-2 and then the following day Bayern beat a star-studded Germany XI 4-2.

Before the 1860 game kicked off there was a slightly surreal moment as Nineties chrome-domed kitsch band Right Said Fred led a 50,000 crowd in a version of the unofficial German fans' anthem "Football's Coming Home". Some home.

A triumph of technology and design and lauded by the international architectural community, the Arena will be the centrepiece of next year's World Cup in Germany.

It is one of two new grounds - the other is in Leipzig - and a series of major revamps in a pounds 980m spending spree in preparation for next summer's global shindig, but it is far and away the most impressive.

Germany has become the leading exponent of cutting-edge stadium design in recent years with a string of innovative schemes that have England's new generation of identikit grounds looking the soulless, unimaginative and bland affairs they are.

The AufSchalke in Gelsenkirchen is a fantastic arena; Borussia Dortmund's new Westfalenstadion boasts the world's biggest stand while SV Hamburg and Borussia Monchengladbach also have impressive new homes.

And even Hitler's infamous Olimpiastadion that saw Jesse Owens humiliate the master race in 1936 and an England football team give Nazi salutes to the Fuhrer in 1938 has been completely revamped as a 76,000 seater spectacular.

But the AllianzArena takes the whole concept of football stadium design into a futuristic new dimension.

The eye-catching technical innovations have grabbed the headlines and earned Swiss architects Herzog and de Meuron - charged with creating a "beautiful Colosseum " - a string of international design awards.

A self cleaning ultra-thin lightweight metal foil roof floats on 2,800 airbags which offer climate control and made building cheap, quick and easy.

And the outer walls are made of 4,200 translucent LCD panels which can change colour at the flick of a switch, a device that will enchant Planet Football next summer.

But perhaps more importantly the awesome Arena is a no-expense-spared celebration of the matchday experience designed with the supporter in mind. …

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