The Bay Arena, stylised as the BayArena, is the home stadium of top German football side Bayer 04 Leverkusen.
The ground is situated in Leverkusen itself, in North Rhine-Westphalia. It has hosted the football club since 1958 when it was known under a different name.
Initially, Leverkusen’s stadium was known as the Ulrich Haberland Stadium. It was named for the popular former chairman of the original club, Bayer AG.
Opened in 1958, the Ulrich Haberland Stadium had a capacity of just 20,000. However, it underwent some remodelling in 1986.
Across the next 11 years or so, the modernisation of the ground continued with the all-new, all-seated 22,500 stadium being complete. In 1998, it was renamed the BayArena.
One year later as the face of this ground continued to change, a hotel was built on the complex. The hotel features some views of the pitch.
Leverkusen missed out on the international stage when initially bidding to become part of the 2006 World Cup. In the end, it was decided by all stakeholders that increasing the BayArena to the necessary 40,000 capacity in time for the finals wasn’t practical and the city, along with Bayer, withdrew their bid.
As a compromise, the BayArena instead became the central training complex for Germany’s national team during the tournament, that was until then head coach Jurgen Klinsmann announced he wanted the side to be based in Berlin.
A superb venue aesthetically, the BayArena is now iconic and is made up ostensibly of the following things:
- Capacity: 30,210 (this is reduced to 29,412 for international matches)
Record Attendance: 30,100 with 30k+ crowds achieved on a regular basis
- Pitch: 105 metres x 68 metres, standard for modern European stadia
- Stands: Basically, this imposing yet compact stadium is made up of North, South, East and West Stands, or Nordtribune, Sudtribune, Osttribune and Westtribune.
Memorable Games at the BayArena
While Leverkusen hasn’t always plied their trade at the very summit of European football, there have still been some classic games at the BayArena. These six are among the very best of them:
Bayer Leverkusen 3-0 Espanyol
During a memorable season in 1987-88, Leverkusen got all the way to the final of the UEFA Cup. Having lost the first leg 3-0 in Spain the game looked up, though a rousing performance here meant a 3-0 win on the night and an encapsulating penalty shoot-out.
The home side triumphed 3-2 on penalties amid amazing celebrations as the trophy was lifted. Other huge games were hosted here during the club’s run to the final, including their 5-1 victory over Austria Vienna and their domestic battle with Werder Bremen in the semi-finals which resulted in a 1-0 success on this ground.
Bayer Leverkusen 4-2 Liverpool
After decades of mediocrity, Leverkusen was back at Europe’s top table during the 2001-02 season. It became apparent that their Champions League campaign was gaining huge momentum, the club reaching the quarter-finals.
Having lost 1-0 at Anfield many expected this to be tight, however, a huge performance and goals from Dimitar Berbatov, Michael Ballack (2) and Lucio meant a thrilling 4-2 win against Liverpool and a place in the semis.
Bayer Leverkusen 1-1 Manchester United
Leverkusen had already come back strongly to draw the first leg of their 2002 Champions League semi-final 2-2 at Old Trafford. Only to go behind again at the BayArena.
A strong comeback and a goal from Neuville, however, meant a 3-3 draw on aggregate and a place in the final on away goals, all amid raucous celebrations.
Bayer Leverkusen 4-2 Stuttgart
In the 2010-11 Bundesliga season, Leverkusen was putting together an unlikely title attempt. Ultimately, they did brilliantly to finish second that year, with some huge performances along the way.
Chief among them was their 4-2 win against Stuttgart in February courtesy of an 81st-minute goal from Reinartz and a last-minute effort from Kiessling to wrap up the points in front of a full house.
Bayer Leverkusen 4-3 Borussia Dortmund
On their way to a fifth-place finish in the 2019-20 Bundesliga, Leverkusen played one of the giants of German football.
A topsy-turvy game in which the home side were 3-2 down with nine minutes to go. The game took a dramatic turn as two goals in a minute from Leon Bailey and Lars Bender ensured a late victory on what was a classic day for the club.
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