On the outside of the stadium it says ‘Signal Iduna Park’, but in the hearts of most Borussia Dortmund fans it is the ‘Westfalendtadion’ and this dichotomy has led to an angry response from the club’s stadium sponsors following a choreo unveiled before the recent Bundesliga clash with Union Berlin.
The Yellow Wall unfurled the huge choreo prior to kick-off with the words’ Für immer Westfalen Stadion (seit 1974)’ prominent (forever Westfalenstadion).
Signal Iduna CEO Ulrich Leitermann however was not impressed and has hit out at the BVB fans for their actions. “For me, that’s unacceptable, considering how much we have supported this club for a long time and also stood by them when others didn’t want to give a cent more,” said Leitermann to Ruhr news.
“Accept the conditions we have! The Signal Iduna Park will be called Signal Iduna Park until at least 2031. I would like to see an appreciative approach that takes both interests into account.
“For us it was just a nuisance. It’s a Sisyphean task that we’ve been doing for 17 years, and there was a severe setback in the game against Union Berlin because this representation also creates images in the minds of the people.”
Signal Iduna bought the naming rights in 2006 and the club receive around €100 million as a result.
Stadium naming rights is big business nowadays, by as we all know and appreciate, German fan culture is stronger than money and the hallowed terraces will always be the Westfalen to so many fans. It is easier to change fans’ perceptions when it is a new build like the Allianz Arena in Munich or the Europapark in Freiburg, but hardly anyone refers to the Weser Stadion in Bremen with its ‘Wohninvest’. The same thing would happen in England should they ever try and rename Liverpool’s Anfield Stadium or Manchester United’s Old Trafford.
As Signal Iduna’s CEO alludes to, its almost an impossible task to rebrand the stadium in the minds of the majority and this public criticism is only likely to sting the fans into more action.