Kick-off Countdown: Inside UEFA EURO 2024's Stadium Preparations

As UEFA Euro 2024 draws near, anticipation builds around Red Bull Arena in Leipzig. Known for its state-of-the-art facilities and lively atmosphere, this venue is set to host one of football's most celebrated tournaments.

An interview with Ulrich Wolter  Chief Relations Officer, RB Leipzig 

Credit: RB Leipzig / Motivio

With UEFA Euro 2024 on the horizon, RB Leipzig’s Red Bull Arena takes center stage, ready to host one of football's biggest tournaments. 

In this interview, Ulrich Wolter, Chief Relationship Officer at RB Leipzig, unveils the venue's preparations and upgrades, ensuring an exceptional experience for all involved. From security measures to sustainability efforts.

Join us as we delve into Red Bull Arena's role in bringing the beautiful game to life on one of football's biggest stages. 

ESSMA: Mr. Wolter, could you please start by introducing yourself to the ESSMA community? 

Mr. Wolter: My name is Ulrich Wolter. I have been working for RB Leipzig for 12 years now. Before that I was responsible for organizing the FIFA World Cup 2006 and Confederations Cup here in the Red Bull Arena in Leipzig. Later on, I managed the organization of the UEFA EURO 2008 in Salzburg and was responsible for the Women's World Cup 2011 in Germany as general coordinator.

What is special now is that this time I was involved right from the start with the bid. There were about 30 stadiums that wanted to be part of the EURO. We always had the strong wish at Leipzig, as a very traditional football city in Germany, to be part of the tournament.

The DFB was founded here in Leipzig. The first German Championship title holder is from Leipzig. But then over the years all the clubs ended up as third and fourth division clubs at one point. So, for the whole region it's really a big thing that we are now back on track with RB Leipzig as we have been in the Champions League for the last five seasons and in the Bundesliga for eight years. That's why we said we want to be part of EURO 2024. It's a big operation within the whole city to be part of this, finally bringing back this celebration of football to a historic place for German football.

Infrastructure Evolution: Preparing the Stadium for the Spotlight.

ESSMAHow did you prepare for the start of UEFA EURO 2024. What's the current situation of the stadium infrastructure?

Mr. Wolter: I am happy to say that the Red Bull Arena is ready for the tournament and we are looking forward to four international top matches.

We had three major working visits with all our colleagues from UEFA and the DFB. Around 100 people were coming to Leipzig to put the Host City and Red Bull Arena through their paces, look behind the scenes, look at the processes, check the infrastructure...

We completed our “Coordination group exercise”, which was an emergency preparation with police, fire department, the stadium, UEFA and all the colleagues to find out if the contact lines work, what the scenario will be if there's a bomb threat and things like this. We then had the setup and dismantling process with the handover taking place on the 21st of May and then the accreditation process started. From now on, there are just a few things UEFA is preparing within the last days, for example the outer security perimeter or the hospitality area.

ESSMA:Have there been any major infrastructure renovations that you had to carry out in the stadium in preparation for the tournament?

Mr. Wolter: There were some things we had to do due to the contract, but they come with a legacy for our venue. Our floodlights are now LED of the highest international standard. Our main issue was to build a bigger TV compound and to be honest maybe the city of Leipzig wouldn't have given permission for that if we wouldn’t have hosted the EURO.

One thing we just had to do for the EURO specifically is we had to bring the media tribune from the upper tier to the lower tier on the opposite side so the media colleagues will get the best seats in the stadium directly opposite the hospitality seats. We will install a media hub for up to 600 journalists in the main building of our stadium. This is just temporary, but in general we try to bring in things that gain legacy for us.


Credits: RB Leipzig / Motivio

Accessibility and Inclusivity: Opening Doors for All 

ESSMA: One of the main things that UEFA is also trying to stress in its preparation of the tournament is accessibility and inclusivity for all fans. Did you have to make any major changes to the stadium because of that?

Mr. Wolter: The wheelchair spots now have a new access because in the past we just had a big elevator through the main building. Now we have great access together with all the fans, so we made sure that inclusivity was at the forefront. We also improved the toilets, and we upgraded the catering situation. Our goal was to offer everyone good conditions and a good experience, so that everyone feels comfortable coming to the stadium.

The main point which UEFA asked us was to block our public parking spaces or use them in a different way. [PH1] They tried to increase the options for public transport. UEFA worked on this together with us and the whole city to create a good concept for groups, taking trams, taking bikes, …. With the concept that you can use your entrance tickets as a transport ticket for public transport. I think this is the main point for the EURO.  

Countdown to Kick-off: Final Milestones and Readiness Checks

ESSMA: With the tournament just around the corner, what are the major points that you're looking forward to, the major milestones that still have to be carried out?

Mr. Wolter: I think that the good thing really is we don't have any major issues. It was a little tricky to have the last match day in May. But at the moment there are no red flags. Everything is signed together with the host city, we have a good relationship with our police and a good relationship with our Lord Mayor who's really helpful. I have the feeling that we're doing things together.

Something we hardly can predict is how many fans from the participating teams are really coming. Every team will receive 10,000 tickets in our stadium and, for example, for the Netherlands the host city expects about 80,000 visiting Leipzig. This is where the city is in charge. It's not always just the stadium. Of course, in the end they play football, but there are so many things going on around it that have to be managed. It’s much more than just a match.




Credits: RB Leipzig / Motivio

Posted on 06/06/2024 in: