It’s one of the highlights of the handball season. In the Lanxess Arena in Cologne, SG Flensburg-Handewitt, Rhein-Neckar Löwen, SC Magedburg and TBV Lemgo are fighting for the German Cup. Two semi-finals on Saturday and then the final on Sunday – the Final Four is an especially attractive format for the fans.
But the mini-tournament was on the brink. Because last night, the organizers had to quickly change the floor in the arena. “Thank God everything got ready in time for the Final Four. We solved it pretty quickly,” says Uwe Schwenker (64), President of the Handball Bundesliga (HBL), when asked by “Sport Bild”.
This cloak-and-dagger operation was necessary because our own league floor (parquet), which had been bought for 10,000 euros and stored in Hamburg, showed significant waves after being laid in Cologne. This became visible after unrolling the PVC floor laid over it. The Final Four would have been unthinkable on this surface.
“I’m not an expert, but I saw it and said it doesn’t work that way,” reports Andreas Wäschenbach (Head of Game Organization at HBL). “We suspect that moisture got in there. Maybe during transport. We then had to react quickly yesterday and dismantle the parquet floor again.”
Thanks to the support of the European Handball Federation (EHF), a replacement was quickly found. “Years ago we bought an underbody that is stored in Cologne,” said EHF Marketing Manager David Szlezak to Sport Bild.
The parquet is stored in the cathedral city for the annual final round of the Champions League, which has been held in Cologne since 2010. “It was a ground emergency. But it’s clear that the handball family stands together,” said Szlezak.
Special specialists traveled from Hanover to ensure the professional, wave-free laying of the new subfloor. They finished in time for the first semi-final between Flensburg-Handewitt and Rhein-Neckar Löwen (4:10 p.m.). “It’s nice that the arena is prepared for something like this. We are very grateful to the EHF,” said Schwenker.
The second semi-final between Lemgo and Magdeburg starts at 7 p.m. The match for third place takes place on Sunday at 12.45 p.m., the final at 3.40 p.m. All four games then on a perfect surface. There is only one small catch: It is still unclear who will pay for the additional costs. Actually, the HBL would have to rent the floor that was made available. According to information from Sport Bild, it should be 10,000 euros. “We’re talking about that right now, we’ll clarify that,” said Szlezak.