You know that one person that calls themselves a huge fan, gets pumped up and prideful whenever "their" team's name is brought up, knows the names of maybe two players on the team and watches about two games out of the season? That is me for Borussia Mönchengladbach. I know if you're a real sports fan you will hate me for this but at least I'm being honest about it.
Last week I took a tour of the Borussia Mönchengladbach stadium and it was awesome. Sure I can't call myself a real, hardcore fan but that isn't to say I didn't absolutely love the tour and silently fangirl to myself the whole time. My love of soccer was enough to make me die for this insider look.
It was 90 minutes of walking through the locker rooms, up the bleachers, out in front of the field on the substitution bench, and into the VIP and radio/television rooms. I had my phone out the whole time furiously taking pictures and writing down facts I picked up as we walked. The tour was all in German so I had to concentrate extra hard to understand what the guide was saying but I got almost all of it. I guess those 10 months here really have payed off.
Now for all that info I'm so proud of gathering...
Our tour started off in the Presserraum (press room incase you don't trust your German skillz). The coaches sit behind the table seen below and await questions given by the press. Pretty self explanatory.
Our next stop was the Polizeigewahrsam which is where the police keep the people that go a little too crazy during the game. Whether they're drunk, decide to throw a few punches just for the heck of it, or cause a disruption of any kind this is where they go. There were three small box rooms with a simple table, desktop computer, and two chairs where the "disruptors" are taken for questioning. They are then taken to what I'd call mini jail. They're real cells, quite big actually with a bench, toilet, and plenty of room to pace. Anyone who is taken into police custody spends the remainder of the game there. Sucks for those diehard fans who live for the game.
There are two train stations near the stadium and both are monitored by police officers. If anything happens at either of the stations the police at the stadium are notified. A lot of Germans take public transport to the games because parking is almost nonexistent plus pricey and Germans like to drink before games. What a surprise, Germans drinking beer? Crazy.
The next place we went was the locker room for the away team. It was pretty average until we entered the connecting room which included a 28℃/82°F pool and a sauna. The pool is closed for just two weeks out of the year to be cleaned and costs €4000 a year to maintain. I guess you could say they take their pain relief seriously.
We walked out of the locker room and down the hall to where the two opposing teams would meet before walking out onto the field side by side. We saw the hall where the home team has it's coaches offices, locker rooms for the normal and youth team, and medical rooms. We were told that the jersey's from famous players are hung up on the wall across from the gladbach youth locker room to inspire the kids to one day make it onto the wall. Unfortunately we weren't allowed down this hall but instead walked out onto the field. The tour guide made one of the gladbach cheers play over the speakers as we walked out. Coming out of that tunnel onto the field with the music behind was enough to make our mouths drop open. It was one of the indescribable moments where you literally can't comprehend how excited you are about it but it's happening to you and just wow, life is so amazing. Yeah like that. Jealous yet?
Our group sat on the substitution "benches" looking out over the field as the guide gave us some more info. I put benches in quotations because these were no benches. They were big, comfortable, leather chairs with heating. I mean come on. I found out that not only did the chairs have heating but also the field! The heating under the field is 27km wide and costs €1000 per day that it's on. Of course it's only on when really necessary, like when it snows.
As we walked towards the next sight to see we were told the grass was new and grown in Willich! It costed a mere €100,000...only the best for the big leagues right? Side note: can I use a baseball reference while talking about soccer?
Next, we walked up to the top rows of the stadium. Up there we saw placarded seats which belong to people who have bought season tickets for so long that they are automatically bought for them each year. True fans. There were pulley systems already set up for the fan clubs who rush into the stadium two hours early to get their seats and hang their banners. In the top rows there was also a section for local newspapers and radios to sit and comment on the game.
Our guide pointed out cameras hung around the stadium that calculate all the statistics during a game. For example tackles, how much a player has run, throw-ins and so on. He also told us about a special set of seven cameras placed specifically to calculate if the ball is completely over the line in the case of a confusing goal or no goal situation.
On our way up to the VIP rooms we passed the medical center which employs 35 people and is open to everyone. We walked through one of the VIP rooms and immediately felt what being rich was like. Each VIP room is sponsored by a different company which is advertised over the glass doors outside. A room costs €17,000 for 17 Bundesliga games plus more for international games. A single VIP ticket for one game costs €260. This room includes good views from inside, on the balcony, and also in the special extra cushioned VIP row seating. Plus you've got enough free food and drinks to last you through another Ice Age. If you ever want to see a Borussia Mönchengladbach game from a VIP room start becoming friends with German bankers because chances are they have an in.
This tour was 90 minutes long all of which I thoroughly enjoyed and would absolutely recommend to someone. Well that is if you didn't read this post because I covered a good part of it. As if I wasn't sure already, taking this tour made me realize how much I truly love this sport.
To many games to come, KAJ