Here’s one of those classic “Only in Mainz” stories.
Mainz 05, the local football team, has drifted around at the top of the 2nd Division for years and inadvertently popped up into the 1st Division for a couple of seasons a while back. The stadium holds 20,300 manic supporters and it’s a case of not being what you know, but rather who you when it comes to getting tickets.
But the marginally successful guest appearance up with the Top Dogs (they managed 2 seasons before relegation) was reason enough for what little sense they had to rapidly depart the collective crania of the politicians and club management.
“We need a new stadium” they cried. “We’ll be back in the 1st Division in a flash and attract HUGE CROWDS”
The City Fathers dragged their feet in their usual manner, threats were issued, culminating with the ultimate WMD: “We’ll move to Wiesbaden” (For new readers: the mortal enemy across the Rhine).
Compromises were found, creative accounting principles were applied to make it look as if it was all affordable (believe me, it’s not…), an appropriate patch of land was identified (ignoring the fact that it lay slap in the middle of an area that provides the city with its supply of fresh cool air from the surrounding countryside) and negotiations commenced with the property owners.
All 127 of them.
122 of them were overjoyed and signed up straight away. A couple of them even went right out and bought a new Mercedes.
This was the deal of a lifetime for them, because somewhere along the line they’d inherited a strip of land from Aunt Sophie or Uncle Wilhelm. In some cases, 20 metres wide and 3000 metres long which they’d leased to a farmer for bugger-all-and-threepence a year.
This was like winning the lottery!
5 landowners weren’t overjoyed. Not one bit.
These were people who farm for a living and losing 30% of your farm turns a marginally profitable business into a significantly unprofitable business.
So they weren’t selling
Which didn’t make them the most popular people in town.
Threats of physical violence, tirades of abuse in the village streets,
burning of effigies, but they did they budge……?
No they did not.
Behind closed doors in smoke-filled rooms, deals were done and sprung on an unsuspecting world.
They’d move the stadium a bit further over into the fresh air stream (“but it won’t be a very HIGH stadium, so don’t worry about what we said last year…”) and buy the land from the Catholic church.
Who had – until recently – been very vocal in their criticism of taking farm land out of production and thus driving starvation and poverty to even higher levels (“but it’s not a LOT of land, so don’t worry about what we said last year…”).
And everyone lived happily ever after.
Unless, of course, you were one of the 122 landowners trying to work out how to pay off the car loan with bugger-all-and-threepence a year.
Or the neighbours who’ll have nowhere to park on game days (and who pegged out the stadium with haybales in the picture)
Or the people of Mainz, who are going to be deprived of significant amounts of fresh air.
Or the rest of us who are going to end up paying for the stadium.
And I bet I STILL can’t get tickets……