A postcard from Germany

from the San Francisco Chronicle:

The Gelsenkirchen soccer stadium has two other names, but to me, it is the Homer Dome, after the patron saint of beer enjoyment, Herr Simpson.

The stadium is the site of two breathtaking marvels of German engineering: the playing pitch and the beer-circulation system.

For World Cup play, the city’s 53,000-seat stadium is Arena Aufschalke, because it is home of the Shalke ’04 pro team. During regular Bundesliga play, the place reverts to its beer-sponsor name, Veltins-Arena.

The grass is phenomenal, as green and precisely clipped as that of Wimbledon or Augusta National. The stadium is partially roofed, not healthy for grass, but the entire field slides out the back of the stadium on rails, like a 2-acre cookie tin sliding out of the oven, so the grass can photosynthesize to its heart’s content.

But here’s the coolest part:

There are four gigantic beer vats under the grandstands, each holding and cooling about 13,000 liters of fresh brewski. Snaking from the tanks to the concession-stand taps and luxury suites is a 5-kilometer network of insulated pipes, rushing cold, fresh Veltins beer to the thirsty coal-miner fans.

Alas, World Cup cups here in Gelsenkirchen will not runneth over with sweet Veltins. The system is shut down because the Cup’s official beer is Budweiser.

The eighth wonder of the world will not be in operation this month. A moment of silence, please.

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