Preparations for the UEFA Champions League Finale 2012 in München. A field report.
Matchday minus X
May 19, 2012 – just before midnight. Allianz Arena Munich.
Lampard and Terry hold the trophy up high. Following extra time and a penalty shootout FC Bayern Munich had to concede defeat in the UEFA Champions League Final to Chelsea FC. A bitter disappoint for the Munich fans.
Since it became clear a few weeks previously that FC Bayern would reach the final and it would be a home game, the whole city was in a state of excited anticipation. The Allianz Arena was sold out. 70,000 football fans followed the game on open air screens in the Olympia stadium, a further 30,000 on the Theresienwiese ground, countless more at different locations all over the city. Altogether 300,000 guests came to Munich for this one evening, whilst approx. 300 million people worldwide followed the final on TV.
July 27, 2011 – Matchday minus 296.
Kick-off for preparation of the final of the Champions League season 2011/2012. For the first time, the team from Companeer meets delegations from the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) and the local organization committee (LOC); consisting of representatives from the German Football Association (DFB), the Munich Stadium Society (MSG), FC Bayern and the City of Munich, in the Allianz Arena.
Almost a year’s worth of preparation for one single football game – that sounds excessive. But just looking at the key facts it’s clear that it will be a lot of work. Since 2005, the Allianz Arena ranks as one of the most state-of-the-art football stadia in the world and complies with the highest international standards. But a mega event like the Champions League Final exceeds even the highest expectations:
The game is due to be broadcast in 200 countries, with an estimated 300 million TV viewers. New TV studios and areas for broadcast vehicles will be required; the interior needs to be equipped for camera teams, commentators, photographers and journalists to do their work. Spectators will arrive from all over Europe. How will they get here? Where will they park? How will they be kept informed? Questions arise on the potential for violence of the football fans and how the masses of people can be safely guided to where they need to go.
Neither timing nor quality objectives are negotiable. The appointed day for the Champions League Final is confirmed, the timetable for the games taking place throughout the year is set in stone. No event can be cancelled or abandoned. The guidelines put up by the UEFA must be strictly adhered to. In addition to this come the regulations of the public authorities and the needs of the media. And: the costs should not exceed their budget scopes.
All this can only work through clear coordination of all involved parties, constant cost monitoring, ongoing management of all contractors and competent coordination with the local authorities and institutions. And it will work…
Kick-off for a mega project…
After a short team building phase, planning work begins in May 2011. For the time being, Companeer is responsible for the domain stadium facilities and thus sits at the interface to all other domains such as media, commercial, event services and sport. All the requirements are discussed; Companeer develops concepts, use of space programmes, plans the technical infrastructure and leads coordination talks with local authorities, expert planners and contractors. Costs are budgeted by Companeer, a framework schedule takes shape.
During regular site visits with delegations from the European Football Association and the Local Organization Committee, concepts are agreed and refined: structural measures, costs, deadlines, next steps…
In November 2011 Companeer receives the mandate from the Local Organization Committee to create the transportation and safety concept. In regular meetings Companeer develops a coherent safety and transportation concept in close collaboration with all the involved parties – from the police department to the transport authorities to the airport operators.
… and the turbulent last minutes. Extra time: impossible.
End of March 2012. The time has come: the first construction works begin in parallel with the normal stadium fixtures. Then everything happens very quickly: in mid-April the first service providers set themselves up to prepare for their tasks on the day of the final. Day by day things gets more and more busy, by 12 May all the contracted firms are on site.
Only two weeks lie between the last routine league game in the Allianz Arena and the big event – packed full of jobs to do which can only be carried out on site once play in the stadium has stopped. Private boxes and lounges are cleared and refurnished; the inside of the stadium is revamped and rebuilt. TV studios are set up, camera positions put in place, commentator boxes installed. The arena gets a new look: the fassade is primed so that it can soon shine in the colours of this year’s Champions League.
Only perfect groundwork like this can ensure that this phase is completed successfully too. The rest is micromanagement. And there is unbelievably still time to take care of the organizer’s smaller worries too.
The game goes without a hitch. The only unplanned event: Chelsea FC’s victory.