10 Great Facts About the Veltis-Arena (Arena AufSchalke)

When this fantastic stadium in Germany was completed in the early 21st century, it was one of the most revolutionary arenas in the world.

That’s because it had some great new features that many other famous stadiums in the world have since copied.

The magnificent home of a very popular German football club is definitely one of the most stunning stadiums in Europe.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the most interesting facts about the Veltis-Arena, the current name of the “Arena AufSchalke.”

1. It’s located in heart of the largest urban area in Germany

The Veltins-Arena is the current name of an area that was originally known as Arena AufSchalke (Veltins is a German brewery that bought the naming rights in 2005). It’s located in Gelsenkirchen, a city in the northern part of the Ruhr Area.

With over 5 million inhabitants, this region in the North Rhine-Westphalia state of Germany is the largest urban area in the country.

It’s situated on the northern outskirts of Gelsenkirchen, one of the many cities that make up the huge Ruhr area. Although the city has over 260,000 inhabitants, it’s only the 11th-most populous city in the state.

Veltins-arena location
The stadium in Gelsenkirchen / Frank Vincentz / Wiki Commons

The stadium can easily be reached from the Gelsenkirchen Hauptbahnhof, the main railway station in the city.

It’s connected to the Gelsenkirchen-Bochum Stadtbahn station which is situated just outside of the stadium.

Gelsenkirchen-Bochum Stadtbahn station
The train station just outside of the stadium / Frank Vincentz / Wiki Commons

2. It’s the home of a football club that was founded in 1904

The stadium in Gelsenkirchen is the home of FC Schalke 04, a football club that was established in the Schalke district of Gelsenkirchen in the year 1904.

With this info, you instantly know why this club is called the way it is. It’s also one of the most popular clubs in Germany and has been since its heyday in the 1930s and 1940s.

Today, the club has a membership of over 160,000 which is the second-largest in Germany and the 4th-largest in the world, which is quite remarkable.

FC Schalke 04 Fans at the Veltins Arena
FC Schalke 04 fans at the stadium / Orchi / Wiki Commons

3. It replaced the outdated former home of FC Schalke 04 in 2001

The idea to build a new stadium came about in the 1990s. The club won the UEFA Cup in 1997 and it was time to leave the outdated Parkstadion behind.

Although this is a very large stadium with a capacity of 62,109 of which 45,067 are seats, it didn’t suffice anymore during the modern era.

A budget of 186 million euros was awarded to build a new football temple. The construction started in 1998 and was completed in 2001, well in time for the club’s 100th anniversary in 2004.

Parkstadion Gelsenkirchen
Parkstadion in Gelsenkirchen / Arne Müseler / Wiki Commons

4. It’s the 5th-largest stadium in Germany by capacity

The capacity of the Veltins-Arena is only slightly more than that of the Parkstadion as it can hold 62,271 people during league matches.

When FC Schalke 04 plays domestic games, the area behind the goal and the visitor’s area feature standing places which increases the total capacity.

During international games, these areas are transformed into seating areas which reduce the capacity to 54,000 seats.

ArenaAufschalke capacity
Overview of the stadium / DerHans04 / Wiki Commons

5. The Arena AufSchalkere can be transformed into an indoor arena

Although it wasn’t the first stadium in the world to feature a retractable roof, an honor reserved for the Civic Arena in Pittsburgh in 1961, it remains a remarkable feature to behold.

The roof features a Teflon-coated fiberglass canvas and it can be opened in two halves. This means that it can either be fully or partially opened depending on the weather.

The rectangular truss in the center is connected to 24 massive steel pylons which provide structural support for the roof.

Veltins-Arena retractable roof
Detail of the retractable roof / DerHans04 / Wiki Commons

6. The pitch inside the Veltins-Arena can also be retracted

One of the most fascinating features of the Veltins-Arena is the retractable pitch. The entire field rests on a substructure that weighs 11,400 tonnes.

This can be moved in and out of the stadium, a process that takes up to 4 hours to complete. The huge benefit is that the grass can grow in regular weather conditions with plenty of sunlight.

It’s not a unique feature because several other stadiums in the world have retractable pitches.

Some of the most notable examples are the Sapporo Dome in Japan, the GelreDome in the Netherlands, and the State Farm Stadium and Allegiant Stadium in the United States.

Veltins Arena retractable pitch
The pitch outside of the stadium / Wo st 01 / Wiki Commons

7. It was the first football stadium with suspended video screens

The retractable roof and pitch weren’t unique features at Arena Aufschalke, but the stadium does hold the record of having something that wasn’t seen before.

Suspended about 25 meters (82 feet) above the playing field, there are 4 massive video screens. These have a surface area of 35 square meters (380 square feet) each.

This is a common feature in indoor arenas but was never seen before in football stadiums before it was installed in the fabulous home of FC Schalke 04.

ArenaAufSchalke scoreboard
Detail of the scoreboard above the pitch / Wiki Commons

8. You can never be hungry when you visit a Schalke game

What’s a game of football without the world-famous German bratwurst, right?

You don’t have to worry about the catering services running out of sausages when you visit the Veltins-Arena as they can produce up to 2,500 kilos (5,500 lbs) on game days.

The stadium is home to 15 restaurants and over 50 grilling stations where you can indulge in food and beer. There’s a capacity limit of 52,000 liters of beer (14k US gallons).

Veltins arena aerial view
Aerial view of the arena / Arne Müseler / Wiki Commons

9. Many popular artists have performed here during concerts

Because of the retractable roof, the stadium can be transformed into an amazing indoor arena that can serve as a concert venue.

A second layer of Teflon-coated fiberglass canvas was added to the roof to keep the 105 decibels produced by world-famous artists such as Bon Jovi, Bruce Springsteen, and the Red Hot Chilli Peppers inside the stadium.

Other events that have been held here were the 2007 and 2008 Speedway Grand Prix of Germany, the 2010 Ice Hockey World Championship, and the 2018 German Darts Masters.

Veltins Arena during a concert
The stadium during a concert / Raimond Spekking / Wiki Commons

10. The stadium has hosted some very important football games

The most famous event that took place inside the stadium was the games of the 2006 FIFA World Cup.

It hosted 4 group games and the Quarter-final between England and Portugal (0-0 but Portugal won after penalties).

Another notable football game was the UEFA Champions League final of 2004 which was won 3-0 by FC Porto against AS Monaco.

As you surely expected, it will be one of the main venues at the UEFA Euro 2024 European Football Championship which is held in Germany!

Veltins-Arena during Germany game
The stadium during a Germany game against Ireland / Sean MacEntee / Wiki Commons