Friday, November 7, 2008
Say It Ain't So Stefan!
Imagine having a stadium named after one of your club and country's greatest sporting heros, the man who led your team to winning its first World Cup? Now imagine decades later the club changing the stadium's name of for "business reasons?" Well, that may be in store for 1FC Kaiserslautern's Fritz Walter Stadion.
Long time Kaiserslautern great Fritz Walter survived World War II and captained Germany to winning the 1954 World Cup, its first of three. The stadium, one of Germany's most scenic, was built in 1920 and was renamed in Walter's honor on his 65th birthday in 1985.
American fans remember the stadium as not only the first US friendly ever hosted abroad (a 1-0 win over Poland in March 2006) but as the site of the USA's incredible 1-1 draw with eventual champion Italy in the 2006 World Cup.
Now, 1FCK president Stefan Kuntz has told the Mannheimer Morgen that "for business reasons." the club may need to sell the stadium name to make ends meet. The earliest this could happen, according to Kicker, is next season.
Its clear that the small market 1FCK, comparable to the Green Bay Packers NFL franchise, would not make this decision unless they had no other choice. Clubs like 1FCK, with four Bundesliga titles to its credit, are having a difficult time keeping up year-in year-out with bigger teams like Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund, let alone competing for European silverware. But with just about every Bundesliga stadium selling its name to a sponsor, a team can fall even further behind financially if they don't.
Regardless of what the club eventually decides, Kuntz has assured Kaiserslautern fans "In any case, we'll make sure it still honors the memory of Fritz Walter."