15 years at the Allianz Arena: Welcome to our home!

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With the construction of the Allianz Arena, FC Bayern created something unique, and the 340 million euro investment has long since paid off. The new stadium has been Bayern's home for 15 years now. Club magazine '51' gives an insight into the birth of this mammoth project.

It was a sensation. Uli Hoeneß had made sure he was well-informed in advance of the meeting - and had heard nothing edifying. The kind of appointment the then FC Bayern general manager wanted to have was, with luck, granted after a year's grace. And in his case, according to the confidential preliminary talks, this is how it would go: He would be politely received, offered a coffee and a 15-minute window of opportunity. Then it would be, "Thank you, we'll discuss it and get back to you." And then, after 14 days he would receive a rejection. But the story was to be quite a different one.

Beckenbauer breaks the ice

At the 2016 Championship party Uli Hoeneß and Franz Beckenbauer once again spent a wonderful afternoon in the Allianz Arena. Many years before, the two of them had made the construction of the new stadium possible.

When Hoeneß gave a presentation in the hallowed halls of the Allianz HQ regarding a partnership for the construction of a football arena, he knew he would not come across big fans in the office of the then CEO, Henning Schulte-Noelle. But it was a good day, Hoeneß was well prepared - and he had Franz Beckenbauer with him. In his inimitable way, the 'Kaiser' disarmed the waiting businessmen right at the start. "Gentlemen", he told the circle of elite managers, "You can all be happy that I became a footballer." As he looked into their puzzled faces, he elaborated: "Well, I once did my apprenticeship here. And if I'd stayed, I'd now be sitting in one of your chairs."

Arena dream within reach

After the discussion with Allianz, one could only imagine the thing of beauty that would be created in the north of Munich in 2005.

After this charming icebreaker, the conversation ultimately did not run for the predicted 15 minutes, but several hours. And in the end, the workforce was amazed to see the CEO personally accompanying Hoeneß and Beckenbauer from the fifth floor to the exit. "I had many sleepless nights because of this arena," says Hoeneß, "I put my heart and soul into it. But after that day I knew: Big Brother is helping us. We would make this great dream come true for our fans."

No Olympic Stadium reconstruction

The Olympic Stadium in Munich was Bayern's home from 1972 to 2005, and they celebrated numerous triumphs in this legendary stadium. Since a renovation was out of the question, it was decided to build a new stadium in Fröttmaning.

It was a difficult birth, remembers Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, "not a forceps birth - but a magnificent boy was born of it". The executive board chairman remembers exactly the day when, together with Günter Behnisch, the architect of the Munich Olympic Park, he visited FC Bayern's former home to look at the possibility of converting it. "He stood on a hill and focused on the stadium through his hand. After a while I asked: "What are you doing?" He said that rebuilding the stadium was not an option. That veto paved the way for us to build our own stadium." 

Test-run with legends derby

30,000 fans, the maximum number allowed, came to the Allianz Arena for the first game, where Bayern faced their local rivals 1860 Munich.

Three years later the referee blew his whistle for the first time in the Allianz Arena. On May 19, 2005, 30,000 fans attended, which meant a full house, as no more spectators were allowed to witness the test-run. The FC Bayern and TSV 1860 legends teams faced each other on the pitch, the arena belonged to both clubs at that time. "It was incredible - one stand was red, the other blue, you had goose bumps," recalls Peter Pacult. "For us, it wasn't a normal veterans game, where it was all about making the spectators happy. It was more serious. That much was already apparent in the dressing room. That day, losing was not an option."

Bearable defeat for FCB

The very first scorer, Pacult, was actually an 1860 player. A diagonal pass from Bernhard Trares, he took the ball on his chest - "and then I slammed it in," says the Austrian. "After that Bayern moved up a gear, Rummenigge with his brother Michael, Wiggerl Kögl worked the wings, Hansi Flick swept up loose balls - but Lothar Matthäus missed another penalty, and in the end we won 3-2." Rummenigge accepted it with good humour: "1860 were able to win one game against us in this stadium at least. It wasn't so much the quality, because we had the more famous team - but the Lions were all young pups, on average ten years younger."

New footballing temple in Munich

For the current chairman of the board, the result of the game was secondary. "We were all so incredibly proud that day - and I was standing down there, on the pitch... I was 49 years old and I thought: If I could start my career over again now, it would be the perfect lifelong dream." With the Allianz Arena, FC Bayern "has moved into a whole new league", said Rummenigge. "In the 80s and 90s, we always marvelled at the arenas at Milan, Madrid and Manchester. Now we had our own footballing temple. It was a milestone." 

Opening ceremony against the national team

Impressive fan choreography! The Allianz Arena was opened on 31 May 2005 with a friendly against the German national team.

FC Bayern's official opening game was against the national team, where Sebastian Deisler scored in a Munich shirt. Herbert Hainer flew in from London especially for the match. As head of adidas, the current president was another elementary source of inspiration for the stadium. "We had a number of meetings late into the night about how we were going to participate as shareholders," he says. "Basically, we all built ourselves a living room - for the club, for the fans, a place where you can simply feel at home.

Debut goal for Roy Makaay

Not a wonder goal but still a special strike. Roy Makaay scored FC Bayern's first goal in the new Arena against VfB Stuttgart's Timo Hildebrand.

The first goal for FCB in an official competitive match was scored  by Roy Makaay in the semi-final of the League Cup against VfB Stuttgart on 26 July 2005: A cross from Bastian Schweinsteiger, a header from eleven metres out, and goalkeeper Timo Hildebrand let the ball slip through his legs. "A nice goal," the Dutchman says with a wink today, "it wasn't our day though - I missed another penalty and we lost 2-1." Makaay loved the arena from day one, "although the Olympic Stadium also had its charm. I always liked the way the fans went through the park to the stadium, we could see that from the bus." Nevertheless, the Allianz Arena "had become more and more impressive: Bigger, yet so narrow and loud, that was a bit of an adjustment for us players. I think it's always difficult when a club changes stadiums to take the identity of the fans with them. But the feeling got even stronger here."

The pride of FC Bayern

Hoeneß has to smile today when he thinks about his saying that he would lead a parade through the stadium when 1860 moved out. You have to see something like that "as tongue-in-cheek", he says, "I was never an enemy of 1860. They always regarded the arena as a ball and chain, but in reality it's a gold mine. I was proud as punch when it opened." One has to thank Franz Beckenbauer to this day for bringing the 2006 World Cup to Germany: "Otherwise we would never have gotten this stadium approved."

From car tyre to Munich's flagship

After TSV 1860 moved out, FC Bayern completely redesigned the Allianz Arena in the summer of 2018 and made it its own stadium.

Five designs were shortlisted at the time, but when it came to the Herzog&de Meuron model, Hoeneß first thought: "What kind of a car tyre is this?" Today he is happy that this design was chosen. "The concept is ingenious, the Allianz Arena is a beautiful flagship for the city." When he rides the escalators up before a game, "I keep thinking: Wow, this stadium is a masterpiece. Even after 15 years, it looks like it was inaugurated yesterday. There's no better stadium in the world." It was basically a sensation even before the first ball was kicked.

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