A legendary architecture (many people even regard it to be the most important building in the city), a sheer endless list of amazing cultural and sports events and home of the 1972 Olympic Games – the Munich Olympic Stadium (Münchener Olympiastadion) is truly a legend in the history of sports venues. Thus, I felt happy that I could organize to take part in a tour through the venue. Here is my review of the guided tour.
Munich Olympic Stadium – Some Historic Facts
Munich Olympic Stadium is based on a concept by the former Benisch & Partner architects. The construction work for the arena has been started in 1969, the arena has been opened three months before the Olympic Summer Games on 26th May 1972. After the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games full of Nazi propaganda, the stadium was designed to represent democracy and equality – this is for example one of the key reasons, why the stadium is not too posh at its VIP area. The Olympics boosted the development of the city and its infrastructure. The stadium is currently listed as reserve stadium for German Third League soccer club Türkgücü Munich. In addition, it is scheduled to host the 2022 World Athletic Championships.
Munich Olympic Stadium – Location & Admission
The Olympiastadion is located in Munich Olympic Park (Olympiapark) which is also hosting a majority of the former 1972 Olympic venues. The local traffic situation is not ideal, though. There has been a former S-Bahn / commuter rail station for the stadium, which is however closed down since 1988. The underground light rail / U-Bahn station Olympiazentrum is the closest connection, but it is located close to the BMW premises and a decent walk. Other tram and underground connections are in similar distance.
There are regular stadium tours offered by the Olympiapark. Adult admission is 8 Euro. You need to reserve the tour in advance (e.g. online), but pay at the stadium. The tour has been in German only – but I guess that it is possible to arrange private tours in English as well.
Munich Olympic Stadium – The Tour
The tour starts close to the Northern entrance. We went down the former (FC Bayern home match) away team supporter area and stopped and the athletics track. Funnily, the track is made of concrete nowadays and not of the typical material used for athletic tracks, as the stadium rarely hosted any athletic events. This also lead to one topic which was very present during the whole tour: The former architects (or: their inheritors) hold a very strict copyright on the design of the stadium. Thus, you cannot change the stadium in one without an athletic track – it still has to keep its general look.
Even though the guide mentioned this copyright fact quite often, she was really on-sided (and presented it very positively, even though this nowadays turns the stadium into a hard-to-practically-use place). In addition, she gave wrong information about that topic. In fact, the copyright is valid until 2080. This leads to a massive financial impact on the city of Munich, which for example had to renovate the stadium for an overall sum of over 80 million Euro in the 2010’s only – all facts which have not been given in the tour, unfortunately. Another example of that is that it was stated that the stadium hosted stock car racing-alike events in the past but it misses that one of the reasons why that was stopped were issues with the copyright (which requires a grass or grass-alike area in the center of the stadium).
We then headed up to the VIP area, where our guide gave us some more facts about the stadium. This is likely the best place to explore that there are just minimal differences between the VIP area and the “normal” seats. Funny to spot that the stadium still has ashtrays (smoking is of course not allowed nowadays).
To me, a huge part of a stadium tour is watching the interior – VIP rooms, lounges, press rooms, lockers. Unfortunately, the tour was really poor in that regard. We went into the link of the VIP area and the VIP seats, which had some really interesting exhibits – unfortunately, none of them were presented. Instead, there was a short film showing some of the (sport and non-sport) events hosted at the Olympic Stadium. You were not able to look into the VIP and catering area. By design, there are also no lounges in the stadium (which was, again in conjunction with the copyright, a key reason for Bayern Munich to built a new stadium, the Allianz Arena). According to our guide, the press facilities are rotten and cannot be entered. What a shame.
Locker Rooms & Goal Wall
Finally, the only thing you cannot see from just walking around the stadium (and which is really worth to have a look) was looking at the former locker room of the soccer teams. Bayern Munich and local rivals 1860 shared the same home team locker room. Due to logistic reasons, the place funnily hosts two phones, one in red for Bayern Munich and a blue one for 1860. Apart from that, the locker room looked quite reasonable – if you compare it to the Glasgow Rangers one, for example, it even felt kind of luxurious. By the way, our guide was not too motivated to show this place to us at all and just offered to do it “on demand” – which (not too surprisingly) most people requested.
Within the short 60 minute tour, we wasted some final ten minutes at a goal wall. Somehow a nice thing to have some interaction, but overall not what you want to do if they do not give you the sights you really want to see.
Munich Olympic Stadium – My View
I am sorry, Munich Olympic Stadium. You can tell so many great memories, you hosted so many great matches and events – this tour is simply unworthy. Being maybe one of the most legendary sports venues is absolutely not reflected in this cheap and unloving tour of the grounds. There must be more than that – more facts (and better educated guides), more stories, more exhibitions, more places. People are coming from all over Germany and likely all over the world to see Munich Olympic Stadium. In addition, the tour felt like a rush – at which you finally wasted time at a goal wall. Unfortunately, that tour was is just an hour of shame to this magical place.
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