Hoffenheim: a population of 3,300, one of the four suburbs of the district seat of Sinsheim, located approx. thirty kilometers south of Heidelberg and nestled in the gentle silhouettes of the Electoral Palatinate landscape. A, no, the football miracle came into being at the center of the province. Thanks to Dietmar Hopp – SAP founder and multi-billionaire – avidly supported his erstwhile Jugendverein [youth club] TSG 1899 Hoffenheim and catapulted the local town club from the Kreisliga into the First National League within 10 years. And, for the fun of it, the patron treated the kickers by building the matching 40–million-euro Rhine-Neckar Arena for their sportive success, seating 30,150 and bordering on the A 6 freeway. GEA Küba supplied the refrigeration systems for the 19 kiosks in the new stadium, ensuring that the fans are adequately catered for during the matches.
“Technically, the order was not really unusual. The cold storage rooms were all more or less of the
same size, for chilling the same goods and thus with the same technical refrigeration requirements. But the impressive backdrop made up for that,” marvels Ralf Jesumann, responsible site manager for the Rhine- Neckar Arena at Kühlanlagenbau Süd-West GmbH in Erfurt, Germany, Sales and Service office Greiz, a Dresdener Kühlanlagenbau GmbH subsidiary. But the Sales Engineer didn’t have much time to enjoy the view in the stadium.
“We received the order for the cold-storage cells including the refrigeration equipment in April 2008, interestingly enough directly as a single tender and basically from Hopp, the builder-owner, personally,” emphasizes Jesumann.
Construction of the stadium’s shell had progressed quite far already at that stage and the construction site was bustling with craftsmen of all trades. “It wasn’t always easy to perform your work in peace. Complicating matters were the long distances between kiosks and parking for the vehicles outside the stadium.”
“This complicated the logistics,” says Jesumann. After 20 months of construction, the installation of the coldstorage cells, including the associated equipment, was completed – a week before the arena opened, attended by many VIPs as well as the then Premier of Baden-Württemberg, Günther Oettinger. Finishing tasks had to be carried out while the stadium was already in use – and this proved extremely difficult. “It happened that one of our fitters travelled for hundreds of kilometers to screw on the last metal sheeting, only to be turned away because the stadium was being used for ‘secret training.’
The stadium was a ‘restricted area’ then,” explains Jesumann.
The 19 stadium kiosks offer the traditional football fan catering assortment: sweets, beverages, chips, and sausages. The beverages and food are centrally stored in each kiosk in a separate, four-square-meter cell at + 5° C. Since the service staff uses the cold room as a large walk-in refrigerator and fetches each order from the cold room, the installed evaporators had to be designed with electrical defrosting to reliably prevent frost from the constant inflow of warm air. GEA Küba type DFBE evaporators were exclusively installed, in two sizes: some with two, some with three fans. The size depended on the “proximal supply zone” of the individual kiosks – depending on their location in the
stadium, some are frequented more than others. “In cases such as these, we normally install Küba Junior DF evaporators. The units are of very good quality, maintenance-friendly – and servicing is also good. Our experience with these units has been excellent over the years and we are totally convinced of the quality of GEA Küba components.”
The Küba Junior DF is a ceiling air cooler in the GEA Küba Green Line, designed especially for commercial refrigeration, offered in 14 output sizes, and featuring a 9-meter maximum air throw. The drip tray has an optional horizontal or vertical drain. The high-grade powder-coated aluminum housing offers ideal corrosion protection. An integrated deflector ensures optimal airflow. The drip tray can be
folded down for easier cleaning and maintenance.
You need to take a brief look into the past to understand why Dietmar Hopp adopted his role as patron
of TSG 1899 Hoffenheim. We go back to the sixties … Hopp was a young, dangerous striker, usually advancing into the penalty area from the left flank. And when he scored a goal, the butcher turned up after the match with a tin of liver sausage, homemade. And so, Dietmar Hopp was actually TSG Hoffenheim’s first player to play on a fee basis, so to speak. This shaped him. In Hopp’s case, you could also say: Sometimes a liver sausage is motivation enough to tie you down to something for the rest of your life.
Hopp’s home club was under threat of relegation to District League A in 1989. A vital relegation match
went to extra time and was lost. On the next day, he told the TSG board that he intended to sponsor the club from then on. He kicked off by donating 10,000 marks – to remedy a lack of decent balls and training gear. Later he built and operated a training center for young football talents, for the first time enabling systematic youth work.
Boasting a budget of roughly 40 million euros, Hoffenheim entered the 2008 – 2009 National League season, heading the league for many months as a newcomer. With this budget, TSG is half as well off as FC Bayern but almost twice as rich as Energie Cottbus. The success story’s final chapter to date starts on an early summer morning in 2007: A few dozen people are gathered on a green pasture to applaud Dietmar Hopp, wearing a white, sweaty shirt, as he turns the first sod for the Arena construction. Ever since then, the Hoffenheimers have been kicking the ball around in the upper third of the German National League. This was Ralf Jesumann’s first football stadium in his career of now 33 years in the DKA. For Dresdener Kälteanlagenbau GmbH, however, large football arenas have long been part of their daily business. They played their part in the Allianz Arena in Munich and also installed refrigeration systems in the AOL Arena and the Bayer Arena in Leverkusen. And in each case, the refrigeration technicians installed GEA Küba components.