Getting to the Deutsche Bank Park from the train station or tram stop isn’t always easy. Shortcuts to the stadium are few and far between, but if you follow a path through the forest towards the North West Stand you’ll be setting foot on historic ground. There used to be countless facilities here when the stadium first opened in 1925, all designed to maintain a healthy body and mind. Many sportsmen and women found a home here on this 42-hectare site. Just a stone’s throw from the stadium itself there once stood a bicycle racetrack, an open-air pool, a tennis complex, a theatre and a horse-riding arena, which was later replaced by a winter sports hall.
A lot has changed on the stadium premises in recent decades, and not much remains of the aforementioned buildings and facilities. The ‘Stadium Tales’ project was launched with the purpose of reminding people how versatile Frankfurt’s home once was, and of the countless events that took place here. On its 90th birthday in 2015, a number of information points were placed around the arena to tell the story of a venue with a colourful history.
I. Ready, steady, go! Athletics at the Waldstadion
When the stadium was opened in 1925, it had a 500-metre running track. Numerous athletics events were held here before the arena was redeveloped between 2002 and 2005. A world record was even set at Frankfurt’s home.
II. A former 80,000-seater venue: The stadium’s history
The stadium’s groundbreaking ceremony was held in 1921, with the official opening taking place four years later in 1925. It has undergone four major periods of reconstruction and once held over 80,000 spectators.
III. Over 3,500 trees: Doubling up as a public garden
A recreational field, connecting to the stadium hotel, was built in 1925 to the left of the avenue leading to the stadium. The whole complex was originally designed as a public garden. As well as the sports facilities, people were meant to be able to use the area as a park. Today, it still retains the character of a public garden.
IV. The need for speed: A cycle down memory lane
The opening of a bicycle racetrack on 13 September 1925 was a dream come true for Frankfurt’s cyclists. Carved into the site, the oval facility held 20,700 spectators. In Frankfurt, track cycling enjoyed the peak of its popularity after the Second World War. From 1960, the interior of the track was even used for ice hockey.
V. Diving into the history books: The stadium’s swimming pool
The first artificially constructed outdoor pool in Frankfurt was opened at the stadium on 5 July 1925. Made from reinforced concrete and measuring 22 metres in width, the main bath was divided into a 100-metre swimming pool and an 18-metre diving pool by a walkway featuring eight starting blocks. The ten-metre tower on the edge of the diving facility would later become a landmark of the stadium pool, which remains a popular meeting point for Frankfurt swimmers to this day.
VI. Water cisterns and green electricity: An environmentally friendly venue
Environmental protection has long been an important topic at Eintracht. Powered by green electricity, Frankfurt’s stadium even stores and uses rainwater. Thanks to its environmental efforts, the Deutsche Bank Park is the only former 2006 FIFA World Cup venue to be awarded an “Ökoprofit Stadion” certificate on two occasions.
VII. Sport and music: A multi-purpose venue, then and now
The stadium doesn’t just play host to Eintracht home matches. From national-team fixtures to DFB Cup finals via European Championship and World Cup games, Frankfurt’s home has witnessed countless domestic and international encounters. Major boxing fights have also been held here, while the Frankfurt Galaxy American football team play their home matches at the arena too. The stadium has also staged numerous concerts, including Madonna, Bruce Springsteen and Depeche Mode.
VIII. The North West Stand: The traditional home of Eintracht’s most passionate fans
The stadium has been Eintracht’s home since 1925, but before the Bundesliga was founded in 1963 the Eagles played their home games at a club-owned facility in the city’s Riederwald district. However, high-profile games such as German or South German title-deciders have always been held at the Waldstadion. Eintracht have played all their home games here since 1963, with the North West Stand housing the Eagles’ most passionate and vocal supporters.
IX. Temple of health: Exercise in the winter sports hall
In line with the motto of the German workers’ sports movement (“Down with professional records, free rein to mass sports!”), the stadium was first and foremost meant to encourage the public to maintain physical fitness. To keep the facility running all year round, a decision was made in 1926 to build a winter sports hall. In no time at all, an indoor venue with an adjacent 400-metre outdoor running track was constructed outside the south west corner of the stadium. Twenty-five metres wide, 50-metres long and 12 metres tall, the building was the biggest indoor sports hall in Germany in 1927.
X. Rebirth of Hellas: Culture at the stadium
When the stadium first opened in 1925, it was not only used for physical exercise - theatre performers could make use of studios located in the arena’s main stand. In 1928, the 1,200-capacity open-air Waldtheater was opened to the north west of the stadium’s festival grounds. The Waldtheater was later replaced by a hockey pitch, which was used from 1960 onwards. A golf facility followed in 1996. Today, the TV compound is located on the former site of the Waldtheater.
XI. All in white: World-class tennis on the centre court
The Waldstadion hosted its first tennis season in 1928. The complex was made up of 12 hard courts and two grass courts, which surrounded the facility’s central court. Following renovation between 1989 and 1991, the centre court marked its reopening on 9 May 1991 with an exhibition match between Steffi Graf and Jana Novotna.