World Cup fans can expect big TVs and big parties at Kaiserslautern
Stars and Stripes March 4, 2006
KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — Don’t have tickets to the 2006 World Cup? No problem.
The city of Kaiserslautern will set up big-screen TVs in downtown plazas as one of the features it provides as a host city for the games.
There also will be stages erected for performers and a “World Cup Mile” of attractions when the month-long soccer extravaganza begins on June 9.
“I very much hope … that everybody will be happy that Kaiserslautern is one of the host cities," said Kaiserslautern Mayor Bernhard J. Deubig. Deubig and other organizers on Wednesday gave an update of preparations during a news conference at City Hall, several hours before the start of the U.S. vs. Poland game at Fritz Walter Stadium.
“Guests who visit our city will find it’s a city dressed up to the nines,” said Erwin Saile, Kaiserslautern’s World Cup coordinator.
Fans who went to Wednesday’s exhibition game — won 1-0 by the U.S. — included thousands of Americans from the local military community who got a taste of what’s to come.
Hordes of Polish fans drove from their country and throughout Germany to watch. They were decked out in the national colors of red and white, and sung their national anthem with much gusto before the start of the game.
At least eight different nations will be playing in the five games that Kaiserslautern is hosting.
Frankfurt, Stuttgart and Nuremburg, which are located within short drives of U.S. military installations, will be holding similar festivities. The tournament opens in Munich on June 9 when Germany hosts Costa Rica.
The “World Cup Mile” will reach from downtown to the stadium. The mile will lead down Eisenbahnstrasse and be lined with vendors and street artists.
With a population of 107,600, Kaiserslautern is the smallest of the 12 World Cup venues. It will be using hotels as far away as Mannheim to accommodate visitors, Saile said. A camping area will also be established.
The host cities hand over their stadiums on May 14 to FIFA, soccer’s governing body, the day after the end of the Bundesliga season, the German professional league.
The tournament draw was held on Dec. 9, when it was determined which teams would be coming to Kaiserslautern. Information in the teams’ native languages is being prepared for their fans, Saile said.
Some 1,100 police officers will be inside the stadium for games, said Rene Jaeggi, managing director of the Kaiserslautern organizing committee. Hundreds more will be patrolling the streets during the festivities.
On Wednesday night, in what one police officer said was a trial run for the World Cup games, security officers thoroughly patted down every spectator and journalist and searched every bag that went into the stadium.
There is roadwork around the stadium, but Jaeggi said that would be finished two weeks before the first game, as would enhancements to the stadium itself.
“I believe the first game is most important,” Jaeggi said. “After that things will smooth down a bit.”
World Cup games in Kaiserslautern
June 12: Australia vs. Japan
June 17: Italy vs. U.S.
June 20: Paraguay vs. Trinidad and Tobago
June 23: South Korea vs. Spain
June 26: Group E winner (Italy, U.S., Czech Republic or Ghana) vs. Group F runner-up (Brazil, Croatia, Australia or Japan).
All tickets at all stadiums are sold out. However, a fifth phase of ticket sales is scheduled to begin on May 1. If tickets become available through exchanges or refunds, they could be purchased starting May 1 through the World Cup Web site at www.fifaworldcup.com.