Leipzig Central Stadium

Leipzig’s ‘Zentralstadion’, or Central Stadium (known since 1st July 2010 as the Red Bull Arena), is part of a larger sports complex called the Sportforum, which also includes a vast sports field next to the stadium known as the Festwiese (literally Festival Meadow), a number of outlying practice grounds and, since 2002, the Leipzig Arena, an indoor sports and multi-function arena across the road from the stadium.

Inside Leipzig's Zentralstadion

Inside Leipzig's Zentralstadion

Situated on the bank of the River Elster, the original stadium was built in 1954-56.  A huge mound of post-war rubble was used to form an amphitheatre with a capacity of 100,000 – at the time, Germany’s largest stadium.

During the Cold War period it was used for sports festivals with highly choreographed and politicised opening and closing ceremonies.

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The new stadium peers over the old steps

The new stadium peers over the old steps

The stadium became rather delapidated in latter years and no longer met modern health and safety standards.  Nevertheless, the main structure is now a listed building, so when the City of Leipzig decided to build a new stadium on the site, it was constructed inside the existing shell.

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New stands nestle within old terraces

New stands nestle within old terraces

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New stadium
The new stadium is a pure football ground with an all-seater capacity of 45,000.  Although the first game took place there in front of a crowd of 28,000 in March 2004, it was officially opened in July of that year, with a sell-out friendly between Germany and Cameroon (which the hosts won 3-0).

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East Germany’s representative in 2006
It is estimated that the stadium has cost around 100 million euros, of which central government has contributed around half.  As the resident club side (from 2004 to 2009), FC Sachsen Leipizg, only got crowds of around 5,000, you had to wonder why the stadium was built.  Clearly, there was a political angle to this – a desire to rebuild the east, and in terms of this ground’s selection as a venue for the 2006 World Cup, a clear desire not to irgone the former East Germany (the other 11 grounds all having been in the former west).

The Red Bull era
A ten-year sponsorship deal saw the stadium renamed the Red Bull Arena from 1st July 2010 and also become the home to RB Leipzig, the local club backed by the Austrian energy drink company.

More photos of the stadium…

External links
Red Bull Arena
Sport Forum Leipzig
Stadium build photos (German)

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