All change in Leipzig with a major revamp of the city's Red Bull Arena underway.
Last summer the club removed all seating from the south stand (Sektor B) as works to turn it into a convertible seating/standing area were carried out. Initially the old seats (mockingly referred to as 'swimming pool' seats thanks to their blue and turquoise colour) were supposed to be put back once the work had been completed but a change of plan midway through the job saw Leipzig decide to retain the standing area and leave only Hertha Berlin's Olympiastadion as the only all-seater stadium in the Bundesliga. Sektor B will only be converted into a seated layout for UEFA games. To widespread approval from the fanbase, Leipzig have also begun work on replacing all seating in the Red Bull Arena with new red ones. Interestingly, the seats frames will remain in place and only the plastic seat and backrest will be changed; and while creative uses for the old seats are being looked into, the new seats are being made with 80% recycled plastic to reduce negative impact on the environment. Local clubs are also benefitting from the refit with amateur sides SV Tapfer and SV Fortschritt Lunzenau both having received 200 of the old 'swimming pool' seats from the stadium.
The seating is just one aspect of the revamp however with the upgrade programme underway since 2019. As part of the changes, the entire stadium is receiving its first ever opaque cladding. Hung on steel frames, glass will cover both the north and south sides of the Red Bull Arena with a total of 3,600 square metres being installed. It’s not about just about aesthetics either, as the glass is also designed to protect fans from the wind and rain that blow through the open concourses. For surrounding residents, the glass will also act as noise insulation as the stadium aims to meet noise level restrictions of 70 decibels by day and 55 decibels in the evening.
Central to the works is the demolition of the historical landfill which remains a legacy of the stadium having been built within the bowl of its grand predecessor - the Zentralstadion. Retaining the historical embankments was the iconic feature but they have proved problematic in terms of fan comfort. In practical terms, the layout means supporters have to first climb the old embankment and then descend into the stadium, a major issue for visitors with any physical impairments. That’s why in the south stand, just behind the famous Werner Seelenbinder Tower, a cutting has been made and a new entry gate created.
Between the gate and stadium bowl, two levels of public concourses are being created with a variety of shops, food and drink kiosks, toilets etc which are accessible both from the ground and the embankment through additional pedestrian bridges.
In total, by 2022, RB will have spent €60 million (£52 million) on all these upgrades and the stadium will also meet UEFA’s highest stadium criteria and although international capacity won’t change significantly, the Red Bull Arena should soon be able to hold 48,000 for Bundesliga fixtures. Images © RB Leipzig