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Stuttgart: Euro 2024 Redevelopment in Doubt

With Germany chosen to be Euro 2024 hosts, VfB Stuttgart are keen to be part of the show and have been looking at plans to redevelop the Mercedes Benz Arena. The estimates, which in a post-COVID world may already be outdated, have been put at an eye-watering €65 million and will see the lower part of the main stand (which dates back from 1974) demolished and rebuilt in a newer configuration with new changing rooms, media areas and even more of the obligatory VIP boxes built in order to generate extra revenue. The floodlight system will also be overhauled and changed to LED.

Funding for the project would be split between three stakeholders - VfB Stuttgart, the stadium operators Stadion NeckarPark GmbH and the city of Stuttgart itself. A major factor in this all working was VfB's return to the Bundesliga. A caveat with the city council meant that whilst VfB were kicking about this season in Bundesliga.2, the club only had to pay 50% of the rent on the Mercedes Benz Arena. However, the increased revenue from Bundesliga football would enable VfB to once again pay full rent (approx. €6.3 million per annum) and this is how the city would recover it's share of the redevelopment costs.

The solid logic behind the plan fell apart however as soon as COVID-19 appeared on the scene and despite a return to Germany's top tier, VfB Stuttgart are not in a financial position to stump up their €22.5 million contribution. The club haven't revealed the full losses attributed to the pandemic but it is understood to be an 8-figure amount and are known to be amongst a number of Bundesliga clubs applying for bank loans to see them through the next few months. The city of Stuttgart itself saw tax revenue fall and expenditure increase as it dealt with the crisis. As a consequence, it too is now struggling to meet it's obligation now that it understandably has to re-evaluate public spending. On top of everything, the Mercedes Benz Arena which usually hosts hundreds of events every year currently stands empty and largely unused - another loss of revenue.

With no prospect of things returning to normal anytime soon, big decisions are going to have to made in the city soon.

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