German Bundesliga newcomers RB Leipzig have announced plans to expand the Red Bull Arena after agreeing a deal in principal to buy the stadium.
The team, owned by Red Bull, want to increase the capacity of the Stadium, formerly known as the Zentralstadion, to 57,000 from its current capacity of 42,500.
The Zentralstadion has previously been a mixed-use stadium used for hosting concerts as well as being the home to Leipzig clubs.
It was the only venue in the old East Germany to be used for the 2006 World Cup when it hosted four matches during the tournament.
There had previously been a suggestion that RB Leipzig would look to move to a new venue but a deal has now been agreed to buy the stadium from current owner Michael Kölmel.
RB’s chairman Oliver Mintzlaff said:
This is a clear signal to our fans, the location and the city of Leipzig. Now it is up to the city to agree to the sale and to make a positive decision on our building request.
A pilot study has shown that we can increase the Red Bull Arena capacity to 57,000. We want to implement that from 2018.
The purchase will need to be approved by Leipzig’s city council before it can go ahead. A decision is expected in February.
RB Leipzig are currently second in the Bundesliga, having seen a meteoric rise from the fifth division when SSV Markranstadt was bought by Red Bull in 2009.
The club has sparked controversy since its takeover after getting around a ban on corporate sponsor naming rules by adopting the prefix RB, short for RasenBallsport (Lawn Ball).
The club has also circumvented the 50+1 regulation which is supposed to ensure that German clubs’ majority voting rights are held by fee-paying members.
Images courtesy of RB Leipzig