Hello Gelsenkirchen

May 30, 2012 at 7:47 am Leave a comment

Our first few days in Gelsenkirchen have been truly insightful and lots of fun. Much of Tuesday was spent on a bike tour of the Zollverein Coal Mine Industrial Complex, a massive industrial site in Essen. This site was primarily used for coal mining, and coking to produce steel and iron. After it’s hay-day in the early and mid twentieth century, the facilities began to decline. Coal mining became cheaper on the global market and environmental regulations in Germany also made it more cost-prohibitive. It has since been declared a UNESCO world heritage site. It was a remarkable first hand look at the growth and decline of a major industrial area. I came away from this tour with a tremendous perspective for this region of Germany and appreciation for it’s history. It is a working class region that truly powered Germany’s growth and development in decades gone by. An amazing place. You can read more about it here: http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/975

After the bike tour we had a proper German picnic on site. The typical German picnic bench was delivered folded up in the back of a BMW SUV. After the lunch we went for a private tour of Veltins Arena, the roughly 10-year old pride of Gelsenkirken, and home to the hometown soccer team, Schalke 04′. One cannot understand Gelsenkirken without understanding the city’s connection to it’s soccer team. The passion for this 108-year old franchise is intoxicating as a sports fan. I can certainly relate to their joy and agony which hinges on the outcome of each game. unfortunately in Seattle we have experienced much more agony over the years (see Super Bowl XL as exhibit A). The arena itself was a wonder. 61,000 seat capacity and there doesn’t appear to be a bad seat amongst the bunch. One of only a small handful of stadiums in the world (i believe only 5 exist) where you can roll out the grass from inside the facility to outside, to enhance natural sunlight. I believe the only one in America is in Phoenix. Some interesting fun facts:

– the opposing fans are bused into a sperate section of the parking lot, have a separate entrance, and have a separate seating section with several meter tall plexiglas to separate them from the Schalke 04′ faithful. Apparently in Europe it is not wise to mix fans from opposing teams. Quite a different approach than in the states.

– food and beverages appear to be quite cheap when compared to Safeco Field or Century Link.

– a Russian gas company named Gazprom spends $15 million euros each year to have their name on the front of the team’s jersey, while Veltins beer company pays $9 million euros each year to have the arena named in their honor.

– the arena averages 35,000 liters of beer sold each home game, with a capacity of 52,000 liters. They sold out of beer last season when hosting Bayern Munich.

Enjoys the photos!

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Entry filed under: Team Blog.

Gelsenkirchen Learning from ELE (Emscher Lippe Energie)

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