The Veltins-Arena is a football stadium in the German city of Gelsenkirchen. Originally named the Arena AufSchalke, it opened in 2001 as the new home ground for Bundesliga club Schalke 04. It hosted the 2004 UEFA Champions League final and 5 matches in the 2006 FIFA World Cup, including a quarter-final. It has a league capacity of 61,482 (standing and seated) and an international capacity of 53,951 (seated only). The naming rights to the stadium were sold on July 1, 2005 to the German brewery Veltins.

Plans to construct a new stadium emerged in the late 1990s, as fans and managers sought to move out of the outdated Parkstadion, and create a thoroughly modern multifunctional arena. Following Schalke 04's historic 1997 victory in the UEFA Cup, and the club's upcoming 100th anniversary in 2004, the contract to construct a €186 million stadium was given in 1998 to the German construction firm HBM.

Site and layout
The site chosen for Schalke 04's new stadium is in the direct vicinity of the old Parkstadion, on an extensive piece of club owned property known as the "Berger Feld". Unfortunately, two mine shafts of the "Consolidation" and "Hugo" coal-mines run directly beneath this field at a depth of 800 m. These shafts (in use until 2000) would have caused unwanted shifts and tensions that could have compromised the structural integrity of the stadium. To avoid this, the main axis was rotated from the classic North-South arrangement to a Northeast-Southwest alignment, making the arena parallel to the mines. The Veltins-Arena was created as a multi-functional arena of two tiers that completely surround the playing field. These allow for a league capacity of 61,524 spectators (standing and seated) and an international capacity of 53,994. For league matches, the North stand is left as standing rows (capacity: 16,307) to accommodate the Schalke 04 fans, while for international matches, these are converted to seats (capacity: 8,600). The 72 VIP lounges form a ring around the entire stadium, separating the first tier from the second tier. On the main Western grandstand, the VIP capacity is increased by a second level of lounges directly beneath the main belt. The foundation for the stadium was created out of cast concrete and 600,000 m 3 of packed slag, a waste product from the local coal mines. These were packed into mounds to support the four main stands, which were made out of pre-fabricated, reinforced concrete sections. Leading into the four corners of the arena are 4.50 m x 4.50 m tunnels, which serve both as access for construction and assembly, and as ventilation for the interior.

Roof and pitch
The Veltins-Arena features a Teflon-coated fiberglass canvas retractable roof, which spans the entire stadium. The roof is supported by a rectangular truss that is suspended above the field, which is in turn connected to the main building via 24 steel pylons. The center of the roof can be opened into two halves, allowing for an opened or covered stadium, depending on weather and event. In order to reduce the exterior noise of up to 105 decibels during concerts, a second layer of Teflon-coated fiberglass canvas was added over the first, creating a dampening air cushion. Hanging 25 m over the center of the pitch are four video screens, each with a surface area of 35 m 2. The centrally suspended scoreboard, similar to those found inside indoor sports areas, was the first of its kind in football stadia, and has since been copied in the Commerzbank-Arena in Frankfurt, the Esprit Arena in Düsseldorf, and BC Place Stadium in Vancouver. The new Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas has a supersized version of this standard. Like the Sapporo Dome in Japan and the University of Phoenix Stadium in the U.S. state of Arizona, and Gelredome in the The Netherlands before it, the Veltins-Arena features a slide out pitch. Supported by 11,400t substructure, the playing field can be moved in and out of the stadium within 4 hours. This has several advantages:
  • The grass playing surface can grow under normal outside conditions without suffering from a lack of circulation and light as in other arenas.
  • The football pitch is not damaged during indoor events such as concerts.
  • The floor of the multi-functional hall can be converted and retro-fitted within a short amount of time.
  • The outside area that is not occupied by the field can be used as parking facilities for buses during football matches.

Catering & venues
In order to provide for over 60,000 spectators, the Veltins-Arena is equipped with an abundance of catering facilities. With 15 small restaurants, 50 grilling stations and 35 cafés, the stadium can serve up to 2,500 kg of sausages, 7,000 pretzels, and 1,000 m 2 of pizza in one day. These catering areas are connected to a 5 km long beer-line, supplying them with roughly 52,000 litres of beer per matchday.

Other events
The Veltins-Arena has hosted an array of important venues, including the UEFA Champions League final of 2004. Concerts held at the Arena include Bruce Springsteen, Bon Jovi, Robbie Williams & Herbert Grönemeyer. During the renovation of Rheinstadion in Düsseldorf, the Arena served as the temporary home of the Rhein Fire of NFL Europe, an American football league. The true multi-functionality of the stadium was put to a test in May 2004 when the Veltins-Arena hosted a pop-concert, one Bundesliga match and one NFL Europe game within 96 hours. Other venues were Biathlon competitions, stock car races and operas.

2006 FIFA World Cup
The stadium was one of the venues for the 2006 World Cup. However, because FIFA controls all sponsorship associated with its tournaments (including that of competition venues), the arena was called FIFA World Cup Stadium Gelsenkirchen during the World Cup. The following games were played at the stadium during the 2006 World Cup:

2007 Speedway Grand Prix of Germany
The Veltins-Arena hosted the final Grand Prix of the 2007 motorcycle speedway World Championship season on 13 October 2007, the 2007 Speedway Grand Prix of Germany, the 100th Grand Prix in the history of the competition. It was billed as " The richest minute in motorsport". The winner of the event won US $100,000 by virtue of winning the final heat of the event, with each heat taking about one minute to complete. 25,000 fans saw the Grand Prix won by Swedish rider Andreas Jonsson, who beat American Greg Hancock, and Australians, Jason Crump and Leigh Adams in the final. World Champion, Nicki Pedersen who went out of the competition at the Semi-Final stage was crowned World Champion.

2008 Speedway Grand Prix of Germany
The Veltins-Arena was supposed to host the 2008 Speedway Grand Prix of Germany. It was scheduled to take place on October 11, 2008. However, the meeting was cancelled because the track (temporary) was deemed unsafe by the Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM) jury due to adverse weather conditions. The event was re-staged at the Polonia Stadium, Bydgoszcz, Poland, on the 18 October and was renamed the 2008 FIM Final Speedway Grand Prix.

2010 Ice Hockey World Championship
The opening game of the 74th IIHF World Championship took place at Veltins-Arena on May 7, 2010. At this occasion the crowd of 77,803 set a new World Record for ice hockey attendance. Germany beat the United States 2-1 in overtime.

Inspiration of other stadiums
Highly acclaimed, the Veltins-Arena served as a model for the University of Phoenix Stadium, which opened as the new home of the NFL's Arizona Cardinals in 2006. This stadium in the Phoenix suburb of Glendale shares features with its German counterpart such as a retractable roof and a slide-out pitch. The arena also has ties to Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis in the U.S. state of Indiana. In that stadium, the retractable-roof also opens lengthwise from the center to the touchlines.

Date Time(CET) Team #1 Res. Team #2 Round Attendance 2006-06-09 21.00 Poland 0-2 Ecuador Group A 52,000 2006-06-12 18.00 United States 0-3 Czech Republic Group E 52,000 2006-06-16 15.00 Argentina 6-0 Serbia and Montenegro Group C 52,000 2006-06-21 16.00 Portugal 2-1 Mexico Group D 52,000 2006-07-01 17.00 England 0-0 (1-3 PEN) Portugal Quarterfinals 52,000