Borussia Dortmund is a historic sports association founded in 1909 and well known for its football club that currently has more than 145,000 members a fact that makes it the second most popular in Germany after Bayern Munich.
All sports events have been canceled in the majority of countries in Europe. Bundesliga, the German soccer league, has suspended all games since March 13, 2020. Therefore, Borussia Dortmund has decided to dedicate part of the stadium to accommodate suspected coronavirus cases.
The stadium, known as Westfalenstadion but officially named Signal Iduna Park, has a total capacity of more than 81,000 spectators making it the largest stadium in Germany. It was inaugurated in April 1974 with its initial capacity reaching about 54,000 fans and was converted during the 1990s in order to be modernized.
Transformation works are being conducted at the north stand of the stadium and when completed, patients may receive health care and disability certificates. The endeavor is being assisted by the Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians of Westphalia-Lippe (KVWL). “Our stadium is the figurehead of the city, a fixed point for almost everyone in Dortmund and the surrounding area and, thanks to its technical, infrastructural and spatial conditions, the ideal place to actively help people who are potentially infected by coronavirus,” Carsten Cramer, Managing Director, and Hans-Joachim Watzke, CEO of Borussia Dortmund, stated.
According to Kirk Spelmeyer, chairman of the KVWL, turning a sports facility into a health center is not an ordinary case but, in fact, the conditions are optimal and given the circumstances, any additional help in addressing the severe coronavirus disease is appreciated.
The football club's administration and the players have accepted a salary reduction in order to enable the payments for the rest of the team's staff (850 people).
The health center will open on Saturday, April 4, 2020.
According to recent updates, Germany has around 90,000 confirmed coronavirus cases with 1230 casualties and is the 3rd most affected country in Europe after Italy and Spain.
More sports clubs in Europe have dedicated their facilities to aid in mitigating the pandemic crisis. Manchester City, a football club based in England, has provided its football stadium (Etihad) to the UK's National Health Service (NHS) to be utilized as a training center for health staff. Real Madrid, a Spanish club, has announced that the Santiago Bernabeu stadium can be used as a storage and distribution center for medical supplies.