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Stadium Guide: Westfalenstadion (Borussia Dortmund)

Stadium Guide: Westfalenstadion (Borussia Dortmund)

Euro 2024 is just around the corner. The prestigious international competition brings together the best countries in Europe every four years, with global heavyweights like France, Italy and Germany battling it out to be crowned the continent's greatest. Tournaments like Copa America and AFCON are packed full of elite-level players and rich culture and history, creating incredible footballing spectacles at every edition. But given the global dominance of European football in the modern day, you'd be hard-pressed to find a higher standard of soccer in any other continental knockout competition in the world.

This year, Germany will be hosting the European Championships for the first time since 1988, when West Germany welcomed Europe's best for a tournament that was won by a Netherlands side featuring stars like Marco van Basten, Ruud Gullit and Frank Rjikaard. It's been a tricky few years for the German national team, so it's fair to say that the pressure is on for this home tournament. One thing Julian Nagelsmann's side do have in their favour is a selection of beautiful football stadiums primed and ready to play host to some top-level international games.

In this article, we'll be giving you an in-depth guide to one of those stadiums, a ground that is arguably more widely celebrated than any other footballing venue in Germany. Westfalenstadion is an iconic European football venue, and today we'll be explaining the site's key features, capacity, location, history, and recent renovations.

Westfalenstadion: Key Facilities

Situated in the heart of the Ruhr region in western Germany, Dortmund is a powerful cultural and industrial centre known for coal, steel, and brewing. It's the capital of the second-biggest metropolitan region by GDP in the European Union, with a population of around 600,000 and a thriving tech industry and cultural scene. But for many people across Europe, Dortmund is known primarily for football.

Westfalenstadion, the largest and most significant football ground in Dortmund, is well-known across the world. Officially titled Signal Iduna Park due to sponsorship reasons and referred to as BVB Stadion Dortmund during UEFA competitions (such as the Champions League), Westfalenstadion is the biggest stadium in Germany, with a total capacity that exceeds 80,000. As well as being a venue for the upcoming Euros, the ground has also hosted FIFA World Cup matches in 2006 and 1974, as well as the UEFA Cup Final in 2001. Below are a few key details that show why the ground has been chosen to stage such high-level football over the years.

Capacity: 81,359

Location: Dortmund, Western Germany

Built: 1974

Record Attendance: 83,600 (for six matches, most recently Borussia Dortmund vs Schalke, 5 December 2004)

Other Facilities: The stadium is an architectural marvel, with huge yellow pylons reaching in to the sky and an array of modern features including five huge TV screens dotted across the site. The club regularly run stadium tours, with one of the most popular elements being a visit to the Borusseum, a modern club museum that holds the trophy room, and other stops including the press room, VIP areas and hospitality suites.

The History of Westfalenstadion

Germany is a country with a unique football landscape. The 50+1 club ownership model ensures that fans have a crucial say in how their clubs are run, and this aspect of the nation's sporting culture is embedded in the DNA of Borussia Dortmund, who were formed in 1909 by a small group of local footballers and are now the fifth-biggest membership-based sports club on the planet.

In the first few decades of their existence, Dortmund mostly played in local leagues, and while the city's municipality first started building the local stadium Stadion Rote Erde in 1924, it was primarily used for athletics events until BVB moved from the rudimentary Borussia SportPark (also known as Weiss Weiss) to Stadion Rote Erde in 1937. The club's success in the post-WWII years created a need for more space, and it was decided in 1971 that Dortmund would move into the newly built Westfalenstadion, directly west of their former home. They moved in 1974, and in the same year, the ground became the only stadium in 2. Bundesliga to host matches at the World Cup.

Borussia Dortmund's ground remained in pretty much the same condition throughout the 1970s and 80s, before major renovations in the 1990s coincided with the club's glory years on the pitch. They were UEFA Cup runners-up in 1992/93, Bundesliga champions in 1994/95 and 1995/96, and UEFA Champions League winners in 1995/96. However, a slump in form at the turn of the century coincided with poor financial management, and they were forced to sell their home ground and give naming rights to local insurance company Signal Iduna in order to clear some of the debt. The stadium's title remains today, although most fans would agree that this change hasn't negatively impacted the internal feel of this unique European football ground.

What are the names of the stands at the BVB Stadium?


When you ask football fans about Borussia Dortmund's home stadium, the first thing they're likely to think of is the famous 'Yellow Wall', a nickname for the raucous, colourful and intimidating Südtribüne (South Bank) stand that becomes packed with BVB's most passionate fans every match day. The Südtribüne is the largest free-standing section and the largest single-tier grandstand in the whole of Europe, with a whopping capacity of 24,454. Each supporter brings noise and local pride to proceedings to create the famous Westfalenstadion roar, and it has a serious impact; legendary Bayern Munich's Bastian Schweinsteiger once said "It is the Yellow Wall that scares me the most", a comment that shows the powerful effect this part of the ground has over opposition players.

Nord Stand

Opposite Signal Iduna Park's most famous structure is the Nord Stand (or North Stand in English), a steep slanted structure that helps fans feel as though they're directly on top of the pitch, and super close to the action. It's an impressive cantilever structure that houses both home fans and away visitors to Westfalenstadion. Unusually, rather than being crammed into a far corner of the ground, the 2,000-3,000 travelling supporters will be placed in the central section of the Nord Stand.

West Stand

While the South Stand housing the famous 'Yellow Wall' is the cultural centre of this classic German football ground, the West Stand is the central hub of the stadium on a functional level. Here, you'll find all the changing rooms, the dugouts, technical areas for coaches, tunnels for entry to the pitch, and most of the BVB stadium's hospitality suites and conference rooms. 

Ost Stand

Visitors to the stadium who are willing to pay a little extra for special treatment may also be seated in the Ost Stand, a lengthy structure running alongside the pitch opposite the West Stand. There are various executive boxes on this side of the ground, and in total the Ost Stand can squeeze in an impressive 17,000 people. In the north-east part of the stadium, between the Ost and the Nord Stands, you'll find the Borusseum, BVB's club museum.

How has the stadium been redeveloped in recent years?

2024 marks the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Westfalenstadion, and in that time various things have been done to upgrade and modernise the stadium. In 1992, UEFA regulations meant that the stadium capacity had to be reduced to 42,800; in the following years, the club embarked on a series of renovations to expand the size of the stadium, first boosting the capacity of the west and east grandstands by adding a second tier on each side, before turning the South Stand into the largest stand in Europe with a capacity of 24,454 (this can be turned into a seating area for international games). 

In 2002, the club began filling in each corner of the ground, erecting 15-metre-long foundation piles and creating new stairways and supports, as well as new stadium roofing. The following year, they increased the ground's capacity by 14,000 in the third stage of modern expansion. As well as modernising and enlarging the structure of the ground, BVB also boosted the hospitality offering, creating a total of 3,450 seats in catering areas to build the largest hospitality area in the Bundesliga. 

Other aesthetic touches were introduced, including the letters spelling the stadium's name on 62-metre-high yellow pylons rising to the sky from the top of the ground. Additional modern features include under-soil heating, a glass front to the stadium, and four interior video screens and a fifth big screen outside the ground, and in 2023/24, Kitchen Tower renovations have seen a major expansion to the catering provision at Signal Iduna Park.

What are the plans for the future?

Almost every year, BVB's home turf is relaid, the drainage system replaced and the South Stand reinforced with support measures, in order to ensure that Germany's largest stadium remains up to scratch. Keeping on top of the details during summer will be even more important in 2024, as Signal Iduna Park prepares to play its part in hosting the 2024 European Championships. 

The BVB stadium is scheduled to host a total of six matches at the tournament, including Italy vs Albania, Turkey vs Georgia, Turkey vs Portugal and France vs Poland in the group stages. After this round of the competition, Signal Iduna Park is set to stage a Round of 16 game and a semi-final (check out our Euro 2024 stadium map for more information). While the favourites to win the competition are France and England, it would be unwise to play down the chances of the hosts, serial winners Germany. 

If you've got a strong interest in German football and the unique culture and history surrounding it, it's likely you'll have watched the success of Xabi Alonso's Bayer Leverkusen team with awe this season. To find out more about how the young Spanish coach is leading Leverkusen to their first ever Bundesliga title, check out our guide to the club's extraordinary success story.