Aachen’s Soaring Gallery to the Art & Music of Dressage
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By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
AACHEN, Germany, July 11, 2014–A new addition to the Deutsche Bank stadium has turned a solid German edifice into a soaring gallery to display the art and music of dressage.
The roof over the addition of 1,300 seats to provide seating for a total of 6,300 spectators along with a facelift both inside and out completely changes the impression of the structure.
“The sense is of a temple or cathedral with the competition arena being the nave and the new covered end which is C almost like an alter,” was the way one visitor described the changes that were made at a cost of €8 million (US$10.9 million).
Others see it as a huge investment in the future of dressage–probably the biggest investment in a physical home for the sport in the world that also cements its long held position as the premier horse show grounds on the globe.
For Frank Kemperman, the Aachen show director and chair of the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) Dressage Committee, it marks another major improvement of a show grounds ahead of the 2015 European Championships of dressage, jumping and some other disciplines. The main stadium that underwent a major expansion to 40,000 seats for the 2006 World Equestrian Games will get its own facelift over the next year.
Although a model of the dressage stadium project has been on display for more than a year the reality is far more impressive, even breath-taking in its boldness.
The changes are not just the addition, but the seats have been replaced and are now off white that gives a feeling of airiness.
One issue common to crowd-intensive events–dozens of new toilets have been installed as the new section allowed the show and other offices to be moved.
What used to be three working and warmup rings separated by a high hedge that also blocked off dressage from the rest of the show grounds are now combined into one area–still enough for three arenas–and the leafy barriers have been removed.
Spectators in one section of the stadium can watch both the competition and the warmups.
The Deutsche Bank Stadium was built in 1998, a solid structure that at the time was a long term commitment to dressage.
It paid off. Dressage has been sold out for weekends a year in advance for several years now and the expansion is expected to bring in that many more spectators.