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Broke Dortmund hosts new football museum

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Broke Dortmund hosts new football museum
The German Football Museum. Photo: DPA
14:53 CEST+02:00
Dortmund is a city immensely proud of its football tradition. But by hosting the German national football museum, it may find the ground under its feet less sure than it hoped.

The German Football Museum opens with a gala ceremony on Friday in a prime location directly opposite the train station.

As the first sight visitors will have when they enter the city, the museum ought to fit in perfectly with the working-class town with a rich football tradition, embodied by local club Borussia Dortmund.

But the Süddeutsche Zeitung reports that the conditions attached to the city being awarded the museum by the German Football Association were “daylight robbery.”

Neighbouring Cologne baulked at the thought of trying to sell the project to its citizens.

Dortmund is desperate, though. Poor and gutted out by de-industrialization, the Ruhr region city has accumulated debts of €2.5 billion.

So it gave the DFB Foundation the prime piece of real estate for free and is paying €150,000 of the running costs this year, rising to €300,000 in following years.

The 1974 and 1990 World Cups, both won by Germany. Photo: DPA

The DFB meanwhile is only taking on a fifth of the €40 million costs of building the museum, while Dortmund itself put up €5 million. The rest is covered by the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, of which Dortmund is one of the largest cities, and by corporate sponsors.

Sponsors investing in the project will give it a rather unusual feel for a museum. More like a football stadium, company logos will be prominent throughout.

To turn an eventual profit the museum will have to take in 270,000 visitors every year, and – at €17 a head – it will have some of the highest museum prices in the whole country.

But rather than the historical riches on display at the UNESCO site of Museum Island in Berlin – which include a rebuilt Babylonian temple - the DFB museum will be offering the football from the 1954 World Cup final and a shirt worn by ex-national team striker Gerd Müller.

If annual losses hit half a million euros the city will need to dig into its already empty pockets. Already other cultural spots such as the concert hall are facing cuts due to the football museum.

In 2012 the Tax Payers' Association that the city could not afford the project. But the city cited studies which they said showed the museum would pull in massive profits, with talk of turnover of €100 million in the first six years.

While so much still seems up in the air, one thing seems likely, recent scandals surrounding the DFB will mean that the history of German football presented inside the museum will soon have to be rewritten.

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