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The MHPArena of Stuttgart: a story of rebirth and innovation

MHPArena stuttgart

The MHPArena in Stuttgart, an architectural and sporting gem, is steeped in a fascinating history that spans decades of changes and transformations. Originally constructed between 1929 and 1933 under the name “Stuttgarter Kampfbahn” according to the designs of German architects Paul Bonatz and Friedrich Scholer, the arena has traversed various epochs and historical contexts while consistently maintaining its role as a focal point for sports and cultural events.

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A Controversial Past: From Kampfbahn to Adolf-Hitler-Kampfbahn

The origin of the MHPArena dates back to the 1930s when it was built under the name “Stuttgarter Kampfbahn.” However, its history intertwines with controversial moments, as evidenced by the change of designation to “Adolf-Hitler-Kampfbahn” once completed. The post-World War II period saw the stadium renamed “Century Stadium” from 1945 to 1949 before reverting to the original “Kampfbahn” designation. During this period, the arena was used by U.S. troops for baseball, marking a transitional moment.

Kampfbahn, Adolf-Hitler-Kampfbahn Neckerstadion

Rebirth and Return to Neckarstadion

In 1949, the MHPArena embraced a new identity with the name “Neckarstadion.” This phase coincided with a series of significant transformations that shaped the stadium’s current appearance. A crucial chapter in its history unfolded in the 1980s and 1990s when a major renovation, partly funded by Daimler-Benz, led to significant modernization. In this context, the Stuttgart city council decided to dedicate the stadium to Gottlieb Daimler, the inventor who had tested the first internal combustion motorcycle and four-wheeled automobile near the arena’s location.

The new chapter for the MHPArena coincided with the emergence of an increasingly modern neighborhood, featuring a museum, the headquarters, and a Mercedes-Benz facility nearby, emphasizing the connection between past and present.

Expanded Capacity and New Identities

One of the most significant transformations occurred in the summer of 2009 when a stand, the Untertürkheimer Kurve, was demolished to convert the stadium into an exclusively football arena. This intervention led to a reduction in capacity to approximately 41,000 spectators. However, the stadium’s rebirth culminated in December 2011 when the reconstruction was completed, increasing the capacity to 60,000 seats, including standing areas.

mhparena stuttgart Neckarstadion

The name “MHPArena” emerged as a testament to sponsorships and new partnerships, reflecting the modernity and innovation of the venue. During international football matches, the capacity is reduced to 54,906 due to UEFA rules requiring exclusively seated positions.

The Unique Structure of MHPArena

What makes the MHPArena unique is its distinctive architectural structure, especially the fabric roof. Built with custom-coated polyester membrane, the roof fabric is resilient enough to withstand 1,000 kg per square decimeter. Suspended from an elegant steel frame that runs around the stadium, the roof weighs approximately 2,700 metric tons. The steel cables connecting the roof to the frame alone weigh about 420 tons. This roof was added during the restoration preceding the 1993 World Athletics Championships.

The Stage for Epic Events

The MHPArena in Stuttgart has hosted some of the most prestigious international football competitions, solidifying its position as a world-renowned stage. During the 1974 FIFA World Cup, the stadium provided the backdrop for four thrilling matches, creating enduring memories for fans worldwide. In 1988, the MHPArena hosted the European UEFA Championship, featuring a group stage match and a semifinal that added new chapters to the tournament’s history.

mhparena neckerstadion stuttgart

In 2006, during another edition of the FIFA World Cup, the MHPArena witnessed six exciting matches, including a round of 16 encounter and the third-place play-off. Additionally, the MHPArena played a role in concluding two editions of the European Cup (now known as the UEFA Champions League), in 1959 with the clash between Real Madrid and Stade de Reims, and in 1988 with the final between PSV Eindhoven and S.L. Benfica. These moments of international glory have contributed to forging the MHPArena’s reputation as one of the most prestigious venues in world football.

A Monument to History and Innovation

The MHPArena in Stuttgart is much more than a mere stadium; it is a living monument to the city’s history and architectural innovation. Through decades of evolution, the MHPArena has shaped its form and function, becoming an icon that connects a glorious past with a future filled with possibilities. With its ability to adapt to the times and stay abreast of the community’s needs, the MHPArena is poised to remain a beacon in Stuttgart’s sports and cultural landscape for many years to come.

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