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

As the countdown to UEFA Euro 2024 approaches its final moments, the spotlight is firmly on VELTINS-Arena. This historic venue is ready to host one of football's most prestigious tournaments.

An interview with Volker Fürderer, Director of Events 

As the anticipation for UEFA EURO 2024 builds, stadiums across Germany are undergoing meticulous preparations to ensure a seamless and unforgettable tournament experience.  

In this exclusive interview, we delve into the heart of the action with Mr. Fürderer, offering a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the readiness of the iconic Veltins Arena.  

From logistical challenges to security measures and accessibility initiatives, join us as we uncover the intricate details shaping one of football's grandest stages for the upcoming EURO 2024. 

ESSMAMr. Fürderer, could you please start by introducing yourself to the ESSMA community?  

Mr. Fürderer: My name is Volker Fürderer. I have been working for Schalke since 2001. I'm in charge of operating all football matches and every event at VELTINS-Arena. That especially means  the broad array of concerts this summer: ACDC twice, three times Taylor Swift and five times Rammstein. 

Infrastructure Evolution: Preparing the Stadium for the Spotlight 

ESSMAWith those concerts just before and just after the Euro, I imagine that's quite a quick turnover. How is the team preparing for that? 

Mr. Fürderer: We have a team with people who take care of all football operations at the stadium, and a team for concert and events. So, of course, they are working together in the interfaces, but they are preparing separately. And so, we can manage the football tournament and the concerts side by side. It’s a very special summer we never had before with a lot of events and a big number of people who will be visiting our stadium. 

ESSMAWe are now just about two months away from the start of the tournament.
Of course, most venues were already in great condition in Germany. What's the status at the moment in your venue? Did you have to make any big changes or are there still some things that have to be done? 

Mr. rderer: The UEFA team is growing and growing every day and new members are joining the staff. We are now in the pre-setup phase, which means a lot of cables being laid everywhere, office containers are being built, the media compound is being set up, the furniture has been changed in the arena...
The entire stadium, including the interior areas and cabins will be rebranded. We have over 130 TV stations that will broadcast the championship all over the world, which also means that the infrastructure for the broadcast is becoming more and more complex. 

ESSMAWere there any major infrastructural changes that you had to make? 

Mr. Fürderer: Fortunately, we didn't have any major changes. We make sure that our arena is always up to modern standards, so there was no need for that.  

We did have of course some logistical preparations to take care off, which is normal for an event like this. The outcast broadcast vans, for example, and product offices will be located on our parking area P1 during the tournament, which is also where the setup will begin. We have the first containers arriving and cables being pulled through our Tunnel  into the stadium, so the cable towers and bridges can be built. In terms of logistics and storage: almost 1,000 containers will be set up across all 10 stadiums for the EURO, which will be used as an additional storage of offices.  For example, there will be 104 of these in Gelsenkirchen.  

After the end of the season and the AC/DC concert on 21 May, construction will enter the final phase on May 23rd.  

This is also the day when the keys are handed over to the EURO GmbH, the so-called “availability period” starts. Then the UEFA accreditation system will be activated and access to the arena will only be possible for staff members and people who are accredited accordingly. Starting from June 2nd, the stadium will be available exclusively for the EURO team.    

Accessibility and Inclusivity: Opening Doors for All 

ESSMAOne of the main topics that UEFA is highlighting in its tournament is its accessibility and inclusivity. Were there any adaptations that you had to do to make sure that the stadium was also accessible for every type of fan?  

Mr. Fürderer: We thought a lot about special places for wheelchairs, but finally it was not necessary to exceed the number of these areas because the ticketing told us that's not necessary. And concerning inclusivity, for example, we have visually impaired people, and we created a Guided Talk in our stadium for all football matches in the league. Access is also possible with guided dogs. 

Safety and Security Initiatives  

ESSMA: I can imagine that there are some heightened security needs during the EURO.
Were there any additional measures that you had to take in that regard to ensure a safe and secure event? 

Mr. rderer: We are always in discussion with the host citywith the police and with UEFA on how to deal with the matches. We were very lucky in the draw, with some very great teams and exciting matches. Concerning safety just a few examples We are setting up buffer zones and will introduce glass-free fan zones. Also there will be car controls at the stadium, we will double the number of stewards... They will need a special qualification, and the police will check every accreditation. So, a lot of measures will be taken. 

In terms of mobility, we expect around 80 percent of spectators to come by public transport. Whether or not that is what actually happens, we will have to see, but that's the number we are planning for now. There's a cooperation between UEFA and Deutsche Bahn to make sure that people will be able to use their match tickets for public transport for free.  We also had our crowd management, communication and safety exercises. So, everyone is well-prepared. 

Countdown to Kick-off: Final Milestones and Readiness Checks 

ESSMAWhat are now the major milestones that you are looking forward to 

Mr. rderer: on the 17th and 21st of May we will host the two AC/DC concerts. Afterwards, we have the handover to UEFA and we will be building the media tribune. The accreditation center has to be set up, as well as the volunteer center, and the outer security perimeter defense system. Finally, the police will inspect the stadium with dogs, and we will build the bistro forthe staff. Those are the next milestones. 

And then, of course, the first match will take place on the 16th of June. I have a clock on my desk, that is a little gift from UEFA and when I look at itI see 17 days to go.   

It is 17 days to get everything done with two concerts in between. But I’m positive everything will be done on time thanks to the great efforts our team at Schalke is making. So, to all the UEFA staff and our employeesall the people who continue to work during the summer and can't go on holidays, I just want to take this opportunity to thank them once again.They are doing an amazing job and together we will deliver a great UEFA EURO 2024 experience. 

Posted on 30/05/2024 in: