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Illuminating sight

Allianz Arena lights up the Munich skies

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"I don't think anyone could possibly have imagined how it would really work. I'm thrilled, because I never thought the colours would come over so well," enthused Bayern board director Karl Hopfner on this amazing Thursday evening to the north of Munich. The Allianz Arena, the Munich giants' new home from next season, passed its first major lighting test with flying colours – quite literally.

On the third anniversary of the local referendum giving the project the green light, and precisely two years after the foundation stone was laid, 120 of the exterior façade panels shimmered with red, white and blue light. On completion, the unique outer shell will comprise 1,056 illuminated panels.

The VIP guest list included city planning officer Christiane Thalgott, state culture secretary Karl Freller, TSV 1860 Munich President Karl Auer and mayor Christian Ude. "The blue gives off a feeling of magic, the red is powerful and warm, and the white highlights the remarkable architectural concept best of all," the mayor commented.

Every panel can be lit in any of the three colours, offering a huge range of patterns and designs. "The clubs and their fans have the final say as to what they would like," commented München Stadion GmbH Managing Director and Bayern Munich e.V. vice-president Bernd Rauch. "This stadium will act as a role model for future construction projects. What we're looking at now is totally new and different."

Rauch's statement is true factually as the world boasts no similar structure at the present time. Everyone present was amazed by the brilliance and power of the lighting effect, not least Hopfner as he looked forward to glorious events in the future. "It's an extraordinary sight. Thinking ahead to Champions League nights, knowing you'll be approaching the stadium glistening red, it sends a shiver down my spine already."

Michael Ballack was not present in person but saw images in the Friday morning press. The 28 year-old was deeply impressed by his club's new home ground: "What's happening there is just massive. We're all really looking forward to it."