The news of West Ham securing the Olympic Stadium will be a cause for excitement and optimism around the club and among the fans. But will the move enhance the east Londoner’s quest for footballing success, or will they struggle to relocate from the atmospheric Upton Park? A few clubs on the continent may be able to provide a rough guide...
The Olympiastadion was original built for the infamous 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin, but has been home to Hertha since 1963. The venue is the second largest in German football with a capacity of 74,064 - only second to Borussia Dortmund’s Westfalenstadion – but with the club stranded in the second tier the average attendance is just about half (37,163). It was renovated in 2006 in preparation for the World Cup, and the pitch was lowered to improve the atmosphere. The running track was also painted blue (Hertha colours), but the stadium has rarely produced good fortune for the fans, with the club winning two major trophies since moving there.
Funnily enough, the Estadi Olímpic de Montjuïc (Barcelona’s Olympic Stadium) was also built to host the 1936 Games, but the bid was lost to the German capital. It was eventually used for the 1992 Games after some renovation, with the Primera Liga outfit adopting it as home in 1997. Espanyol were reluctant tenants as the Spanish government coerced them into the move to provide a use for the otherwise derelict site. The ground could hold just over 55,000, but the Catalan club, who unenviable have to compete with Barcelona for fans, usually conjure up an average of 25,000. They moved to their own stadium in 2009, the Estadi Cornellà-El Prat, however, their two biggest achievements – winning the Copa del Rey and finishing runners-up in the UEFA Cup – happened during their stay at the Olympic Stadium.
The Stadio Olimpico is the iconic home of both Lazio and Roma, but is a multi-purpose facility that hosts rugby, athletics and concerts. Originally built in 1937, it became Italy’s venue for the 1960 Olympic Games. In spite of the sizeable running track that detaches the pitch from the stands, the fans of both clubs can create a good atmosphere, even though the attendance is usually well under capacity. Although both clubs had decent period of success, they fall well behind the northern giants of Juventus, Milan and Inter in terms of silverware, winning the Serie A title just five times between them. Roma have recently announced plans to build their own new ground.
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