“Don’t move!” – Mark Lievisse Adriaanse on ‘De Kuip’, the home of Feyenoord
I was only three years old when I visited my first match in Feyenoord’s famous stadium De Kuip. Although it was a youth match and there weren’t many spectators, I was sold. Of course I was sold. From 2000, when I visited my first league game in the stadium, to this very day, it has always been a second home. And that’s why I can’t imagine Feyenoord leaving it.
For years now, discussion has been going on about a new stadium. De Kuip, built in 1937, is ‘too old’, ‘doesn’t reply to the questions of our time’ and ‘is a hold to further successes’. I’ve never believed such statements. For me, De Kuip has been a second home, a place I had my best days and worst nights. It is a place full of memories. When I drive past the stadium, I think of those last-minute winners, I think of leaving De Kuip with tears in my eyes after Feyenoord lost 2-4 against the arch enemy Ajax in 2006. I have to think of that hot late summer night in September 2011, when hundreds of supporters attacked Feyenoord’s office building, to protest against the board. I was there. I saw the fire. I saw the police pointing their guns towards us and I saw Feyenoord getting over the sportive and financial troubles later that year, ending with a huge party in the stadium after finishing second in the league. How times had changed.
De Kuip is a place which has played a mayor role in my life so far and that is is why I can not imagine Feyenoord leaving the stadium. Last week, an email leaked from an alderman of the city of Rotterdam, declaring that the local government is supporting the plans for a new stadium. So far though, no serious attempts have been made for drafts of how this new stadium is going to look like. And there is no financial guarantee that everything will go well. A few weeks ago, a professor declared that the financial risks are ‘too high’, stating that it might bring Feyenoord more damage than luck and success.
In the mean time, a group of supporters has made a serious proposal for renovation of the 76-year old monument. ‘Red De Kuip’ (Save De Kuip) is a group of architects from Rotterdam and has made a serious business plan. One of the biggest Dutch construction companies has declared that they want to fulfill those plans, making a renovation a very serious option for many. But not for the board of the stadium and Feyenoord. Despite the big financial risks, despite the very good proposal from Red De Kuip, they seem to be deaf and reply to their critics saying ‘these people don’t know enough’. Their biggest argument seems to be that ‘a new stadium will bring Feyenoord more success’, stating that in De Kuip, Feyenoord can’t grow.
I have my doubts about that. Of course, something needs to be done. But the renovation plans look much better to me than the idea of leaving De Kuip. For me, Feyenoord basically is three things: the supporters (The Legion), De Kuip and the youth academy Varkenoord. If you take away one of these, Feyenoord will lose its soul. For the youth players of Varkenoord, on the other side of the street from the stadium, De Kuip is all they can dream of. ‘I want to make it to the otherside’ is a sentence heard from many youth players. This is a psychological effect which should not be understated.
And for many away teams, De Kuip has been a hell. The fanatic supporters have given the team wings in many fabulous matches. One of the most famous matches is the Champions League clash with Marseille in 1999, when Feyenoord’s defender Kees van Wonderen got sent of after just eight minutes. After the match, both the referee and players from both teams declared that the powers that be then broke lose on the stands, turned the tide. Feyenoord won the match, thanks to the huge support of the very fanatic fans.
Now I cannot imagine myself not going to Feyenoord. For me, Feyenoord is everything. My circle of friends exists almost for hundred percent of Feyenoord fans, the guys I go with to the matches. I am born as a Feyenoorder, and will die as one – in the years between most of my life is situated around this crazy team from Rotterdam. During the day, I read all the news from all the websites. The weekends are all about Feyenoord. Before the home games, you have a beer at Varkenoord or one of the pubs around the stadium. During the match, you give everything on the stands. The camaraderie with the lads on the stands, the atmosphere in the stadium – it’s what makes loving a team unconditionally so great.
De Kuip plays an important role in this. I don’t see myself going to matches in some kind of modern multifunctional stadium – all these new stadiums look like each other and have lost the souls of the clubs playing in them. Besides the emotions, I am very afraid the financial risks of a new stadium will seem too big, leaving the club with massive financial trouble. Now I don’t mind getting wet when it rains, or the food in the stadium being horrible. The renovation might improve De Kuip, and will keep the soul of the club. The idea of losing both my stadium and my club is making me sick (I had trouble eating the other day, hours after the city government stated their support for a new stadium) – and that is why I want, no, that is why I need, Feyenoord to stay in De Kuip. Let’s hope the city council of Rotterdam and the board of directors of Feyenoord will decide so.
Mark Lievisse Adriaanse is a fanatic Feyenoord-supporter and freelance journalist, writing about both politics and football. You can find him on the twitter too: @Markla94.