Spring 2008. Every two weeks, eight to nine thousand fans swarm to the Dresden Rudolf-Harbig Stadium to watch the home games of Dynamo Dresden. Some may feel themselves displaced to the post-war period: Half the stadium is in ruins, mounds of debris and the remains of old grandstands are piled up. However, those with imagination can already catch a glimpse of the silhouette of the new stadium. Concrete columns mark the future floor plan of the stadium bowl, the first steps and entrances are cast in concrete – Dresden’s new football stadium is growing, an arena that offers seats for 32,000 spectators and fundamentally improves the conditions for first-class football.
After long, sometimes tough “foreplay” – the first considerations for a stadium started in the mid 1990s – the sports facilities specialist HBM started building a new stadium in the old stadium here in autumn 2007. One and a half years earlier, the Dresden city councils gave the green light for it, the city took a guarantee for more than 40 million euros, the planning was debated in many public forums, the demolition finally began with an activity which shed light on the significance of football and Dynamo Dresden in East Saxony: Thousands came to remove the seat buckets or shields – and often paid considerable amounts into the bank account of a newly established foundation which helps promote youth football in Dresden.
The stadium, which has been the home of Dynamo for about 50 years, has in actual fact got cult status. Here, the grandfathers and fathers of the young fans today already experienced great football; here Bayern München, AS Rom, FC Liverpool and Benfica Lisbon competed in the Europe Cup Games. Here, Dynamo stars such as Dixi Dörner, Hans-Jürgen Kreische, Ulf Kirsten or Matthias Sammer got GDR master titles and cups; national league football was shown in this stadium after 1990 until the economic crash of Dynamo in the mid 1990s; here the cumbersome rebuilding and the acclaimed comeback into the second league and finally the mourning of the renewed descent into the third league took place.
The up and down sways of Dynamo Dresden since the reunification have numerous causes – one undoubtedly lies therein that the economic general conditions for professional sports, particularly for the national and even international football, in the East of Germany have only slowly been developing and currently still noticeably lag behind those of the old federal states.
Dresden and its region belong to the most dynamic economic locations in the East, the state capital is meanwhile a centre of microelectronics of European standing; it enjoys a good reputation as a cultural and scientific metropolis; it can still refer to good core industries such as the fine mechanical industry and tool and machine building industry; the VW Group produces their luxury limousines in Dresden. But the economic structure of the city and its surroundings is shaped primarily by small and medium-sized enterprises, added to which are fortunately many newly-founded organizations supported by the research-related sector.
This is reflected in the composition of the sponsors of Dynamo: Many small and medium-sized, mostly owner-managed enterprises involve themselves with tremendous dedication. Major sponsors seldom make an appearance, and if they do, it will be because of the commitment of organizations that in a particular manner find themselves personally connected to the development in the East. The international marketing chain, on the other hand, only in a few exceptional cases reaches as far as Dresden football.
In this situation, the building of a new, attractive stadium may be regarded as an opportunity to open doors and to improve the economic survival conditions of a club which can refer to great traditions, a both large and committed following and deep roots in its home region.
The new Dresden arena possesses everything that is regarded as essential to play in the upper leagues in professional football: well developed, safe tiers, even better possibilities to guarantee security and orderliness in the stadium, comparably many parking spaces on the stadium premises and excellent training and match conditions for the players, the best employment opportunities for the media – and above all, also a wide selection for sponsors.
In addition to 22 VIP boxes, there is a well-equipped variable section, which is available to sponsors and interested parties not only during matches but also for marketing events, company functions, small congresses or exhibitions as well as sales activities. The interest shown in it as also in the boxes is great and shows what potential the stadium operators and the club management can fall back on in the future. Additionally, there is also the possibility of holding concerts and other large events in the stadium. All in all, Dynamo Dresden is in future called upon to develop new ideas to not only better use its new “home” to its full capacity, but rather to make it into a real centre of club activities.
For all the prospects that a modern stadium has to offer – it can only be effectively utilized if the sporting success materializes. Business environment factors alone cannot be decisive. First-class football also requires a constant flow of youth development work. Dynamo Dresden can thereby draw on good preconditions, which the city of Dresden has created with a new sports college centre. Within its immediate vicinity, boarding schools and work groups of the club’s youth development centre are situated – created with the help of the Ulf Kirsten Foundation and numerous other sponsors. Year after year, the club gets together significant amounts of money for the operation of this centre. We are convinced that this investment, as well as the new stadium, safeguards the future of football in Dresden and that of Dynamo Dresden.
The author was born in 1968 and has been the president of the SG Dynamo Dresden eV since 2007. After his degree in business administration at the Martin Luther Universität Halle-Wittenberg, he worked at the Sparkassenverband in Berlin as an association auditor from 1992–1997. From 1997–2002, he was the head of the credit department at Sparkasse Bernburg, and since 2002, he has been the chairperson of Volksbank Pirna.