Back in 2006 it was all going so well for Alemannia, the major club representing the beautiful city of Aachen. They had regained a precious place in the elite of 1.Bundesliga and construction had started on the 33,000 capacity Neuer Tivoli an ultra modern venue to replace the ageing but much loved Tivoli. The new venue was to cost €50 million, much of it financed by an interest bond scheme among the club’s supporters.
The catalyst for Alemannia’s recovery had been a run to the DFB Pokal final of 2004, and although they lost the final to Werder Bremen at the Berlin Olympiastadion, it bought qualification for the UEFA Cup. Having overcome FH Harfnarfjordur, Lille OSC and AEK Athens, Aachen qualified for the round of 32. Despite losing narrowly over two legs to AZ Alkmaar the clubs coffers were sufficiently refreshed to mount an ultimately successful tilt at promotion to the Bundesliga in 2005/06.
Alemannia’s first stint in the top tier since 1967 sadly only lasted one season, a 17th place finish meaning an immediate return to 2.Bundesliga. The new stadium, constructed by the Hellmich Group, however, generated some unforeseen costs and placed the club under severe financial strain. However, the Neuer Tivoli was inaugurated on August 12th 2009 with a match against Belgians SK Lierse.
The club suffered two relegations and found themselves in the fourth tier Regionalliga. The financial impact to the club was crushing and insolvency proceedings were considered. The commune of Aachen came to the clubs rescue when the club looked likely to lose their professional licence. Debts continued to mount and in January 2015 Alemannia were left with no choice but to sell the Neuer Tivoli to the City of Aachen for just one euro.
Despite entering a third season in the Regionalliga West, Aachen are still getting some great support at the ground. Last season the club finished second in the table, missing out on promotion, but their home game against Rot-Weiss Essen attracted a sell out 33,000 crowd to the Neuer Tivoli.
Alemannia started life in 1900 and initially played at the Velodrome which was situated in the Zoological Garden. Today this venue is known as Aachener Westpark. In 1904, the club moved to Waldspielplatz, a venue that still exists as the Aachener Waldstadion, primarily an athletics. After only three years there the club were on the move again this time to the Sportplatz Siegel, another venue still in use, most recently as home to Burtscheider Turnverein 1873.
However, when the City of Aachen acquired the land formerly occupied by the villa known as the Tivoli, Alemannia immediately moved in. The new venue became known as the Sportplatz Tivoli and was Alemannia’s home between 1908 and 1928.
By then a proper stadium, holding 11,000 spectators was opened close to the Sportsplatz. The Tivoli was inaugurated in June 1928 and fans flocked to the new venue. The club became so popular in the pre World War II period that bigger matches had to be moved to the Waldstadion as the capacity there was some 25,000.
Much needed expansion started in 1953 when the new grandstand, known as the Würselener Wall was opened. Four years later a new covered seated stand was opened and then came floodlights, at the time the brightest in Germany, inaugurated by a visit from Spanish side Espanyol.
The stadium had been sold to the commune in the 1960’s and periodic improvements occurred. However, it was telling that when European competition came to Aachen in 2004, the old stadium did not meet UEFA’s strict criteria. All Aachen’s home games were staged in Koln after the club’s request to use the much closer stadium of Dutch club Roda Kerkrade was rejected.
The old stadium was demolished soon after the Neuer Tivoli opened. The new stadium is a magnificent venue, superbly designed and with substantial terracing behind one goal, known as the “Bitburger Wall”. This is where the majority of the fans gather for today’s match against the second team of Borussia Mönchengladbach. The support is noisy and constant and very impressive. On the field, Aachen fail to build on a first half lead given to them by Basti Müller, and the visitors steal a point right at the end against the run of play.
This fantastic stadium is clearly fit for top flight football, whether Aachen can overcome their financial woes and start the long climb back remains to be seen.
Regionalliga West – 08/08/2015
TSV Alemannia Aachen 1 (Müller 29)
Borussia Mönchengladbach II 1 (Rodriguez 87)
Att: 13,000 (at Neuer Tivoli)