Two German teams face bigger logistical or even existential problems in a near future. And I don’t speak about some kind of low level teams but I talk about two former German Champions: Bayer Leverkusen and Cologne.
The problems that both teams face are very different so I will talk about them in two separate paragraphs. Let’s start with Cologne 99ers formerly known as Rheinenergie Cologne. The team from coach Sasa Obradovic played last year in the Euroleague and those people that saw their games may have been surprised by the low attendances during their games. In fact, the problem of Cologne is that they don’t have an adequate arena. Of course, there is the KölnArena, a superb complex for about 19.000 people. Unfortunately, this arena is way too big to play normal Bundesliga games. Not to speak about the costs to rent it for those games. The irony of the KölnArena is even that it was not the hometown team that filled it once but the neighbors from Bonn that made a German (or even European record) by having a game in front of a sold-out capacity of 18,605 spectators a few years ago.
What has this to do with the actual problems that Cologne is facing and the miserable attendances in last year’s Euroleague. In fact, the team actually plays in a sort of Circus tent somewhere in the suburbs of Cologne. The problem is that this place only has a little less than 3000 seats, so it is not in line with the Euroleague conditions. Cologne had to move to Düsseldorf and play their "home" games in a city that is "hated" by the people from Cologne. The KölnArena was not available during the needed dates. As the Energydome tent was only a provisory solution, there have been big talks about a new Arena being built in Köln-Hürth for 7.200 people. However, this project now is officially dead. As this project was already nearly about to start being built, the team has sold the ground where it’s actual Energydome Arena is placed and the team should move to the new arena during the next season. But what will happen now? The old arena being sold and the new one canceled. The situation is pretty tough for the managers but there are already some new rumors coming up about a new project that can be realized in a very short time in the Center of Cologne.
Another problem is facing the German most decorated basketball team of all time: Bayer Giants Leverkusen. After the last championship title in 1996, the decline in the last decade was steady and now the all-time Sponsor Bayer Chemicals is stopping the partnership to concentrate on soccer. As the company was mainly responsible for the whole budget of the team, the chances to continue are very low. Actually, the managers of the team are trying to solve the situation but they think that there is only a 15% chance that the team will survive. At least in Leverkusen.
So there are some rumors going around about moving the team to Hamburg or Düsseldorf, cities that may be interested in seeing some first league basketball. However, this looks quite risky as both cities don’t have a real basketball background and tradition (see Cologne’s results by playing Euroleague in Düsseldorf). Of course, a first thought would be to reunite the teams of Cologne and Leverkusen and build a strong presence in the Rhine area. However, the problem of the Arena in Cologne discussed above are also making the round in Leverkusen where the arena is also not in its best shape.
We will of course follow this story of moving teams and keep you updated about the future of these two German teams.