Olympic Games 1972

In 1966 the International Olympic Committee awarded the 1972 Olympic Games to Munich - a city that previously had no major sporting venues.

 It only had the space: the "Oberwiesenfeld", a dismal, flat wasteland of four square kilometres located just four kilometres from the city centre. This was once an exercise area for the Royal Bavarian Army; later the site served as Munich's first passenger and sports aerodrome, then after 1945 a 1300 metre long and 60 metre high "rubble mountain" was created as the bomb sites left by 66 raids on the city during the Second World War were cleared.

 In just six years the Olympic Park was built here at the foot of the 290 m high Olympic Tower - an ensemble of modern stadia and sports halls, the Olympic Village, the Press City and the Press Centre. The buildings are embedded into an artificial landscape with a lake covering 80,000 square metres, a forum with wide lawns, boulevards, trees and shrubberies. Apart from the soaring Olympic Tower, the main landmark is the 75,000 square meter glass "tent" roof. The main themes of the planning were: concentration of the facilities in one large Olympic complex ("the compact Olympic Games"), human dimensions, lightness, bold elegance, the unity of landscape and architecture ("the green Olympics") and the possibility of using the facilities for practical purposes after the games.

The basic design concept was drawn up in a national architectural competition in the autumn of 1967. The winning project that was realized in the following years was designed by the architects Günter Behnisch and Partners from Stuttgart who came up with the idea of the tent roof, that soon became a pioneering work of design and technical engineering in world architecture. Starting with the idea that the mountain of rubble - today's Olympic Hill - already represented a piece of artificial landscape, they developed the principle of excavating a lake basin along the length of this hill and using the excavated soil to model a varied parkland from the otherwise completely flat site, into which the stadia, halls and living accommodation could be set. The landscaping was the responsibility of Professor Grzimek from Kassel, a brother of the famous animal researcher Professor Bernhard Grzimek. The total costs of the Olympic Games amounted to about DM 1.94 billion, of which about 1.35 billion were allotted to investment in Munich. These investment not only included the sports buildings on the Oberwiesenfeld and the landscaping, but also the transport connections, the Olympic boat race course in Oberschleissheim, the shooting range in Hochbrück, the basketball hall (Rudi-Sedlmayer-Halle) on the Siegenburgerstrasse, the expansion and new building of halls on the exhibition grounds, the equestrian centre in Riem and canoeing slalom course in Augsburg. The sailing marina in Kiel cost a further DM 90 million. The organisation of the games cost DM 502 million. Of this total amount, about two thirds could be covered by income of the organising committee, through the sales of Olympic coins, a TV lottery and the Olympic betting run in conjunction with the Toto and Lotto. The remaining DM 590 million was financed 50 percent by the Federal Republic and 25 percent each by the state of Bavaria (Freistaat Bayern) and the state capital Munich. As this burden was spread over six years, even the city of Munich managed to meet its commitment out of its normal budget. There was never an "Olympic debt mountain" that had been much discussed in the preceding years. The economic development of the Olympic Park was far more profitable than expected. The reason: the unceasing attractiveness of the park and its leisure facilities, but above all the fact that an inspired management succeeded in attracting far more events than had originally been expected. Although the price level rose considerably, the average annual shortfalls have thus far remained below the interest earned from the DM 130 million paid by the Federation. This will not, however, continue indefinitely. As the buildings begin to age, maintenance costs will rise considerably in the years to come; in addition, more and more technical innovations, additions and adaptations to the facilities are becoming necessary. Since the end of the 1972 Olympic Games over 8800 sporting, cultural and commercial events have been staged in the Olympic Park, attracting over 157 million visitors - from 30 world and 12 European championship, 85 German championships, pop concerts and shows, carnival balls and visiting circuses, ballet performances and folk music and dancing to exhibitions and conferences. During the same period, about 70 million people have visited for recreational sport, visits and guided tours. On top of this, as many as 2000 people come every day for sport training and countless people taking walks in the park, as many as 30,000 at weekends. The Olympic Park in Munich has thus become one of the greatest event and leisure centres in Europe. One TV commentator described it once as the "gift of the century to Munich". In the entire history of the modern Olympic Games, Munich is indeed the only city that has had such positive experiences with the continued use of Olympic facilities. The Park has become a lasting enrichment to the communal life of the city; its unique architectural structure has also become a landmark of modern Munich, pleasingly complementing the famous buildings of earlier centuries.