Hamburg fans can mourn in blue and white

Mon Oct 6, 2008 8:12pm EDT
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By Kerstin Gehmlich

HAMBURG, Germany (Reuters) - Gardener Lars Rehder stands next to a fresh grave in a cemetery and wonders which flowers best match the blue and white of Hamburg SV.

Rehder is working on a new "soccer graveyard," where fans can find final rest a stone's throw from their team's stadium, buried underneath original grass from the Hamburg pitch and lying in blue coffins featuring the Bundesliga leaders' logo.

"Classic rows of gravestones seemed boring," said Rehder, recalling how he came up with the idea for the graveyard with a stone-cutter friend a few years ago.

"Thousands of fans take the shortcut through the cemetery to get to the stadium every time there's a match on.

"It seemed like the obvious thing to do when this patch of cemetery became available," the 36-year-old said about the site, which opened last month but so far contains only one grave.

Set up in a semi-circle, the site allowed graves to be arranged "like fans in a stadium" on terrace-style steps surrounding a patch of green -- "the pitch," Rehder said.

Wealthy fans might be attracted by what he called the "VIP lounge" family grave for 10,500 euros, while the less well-off could opt for a smaller spot for an urn at 2,500 euros.

"It's cheaper. I call it the supporters' stand option," Rehder said, looking around the site, which mourners enter through a black, stylized goal.   Continued...

<p>Soccer boots made of grass are displayed during the opening ceremony of a specially designated cemetery section for HSV fans at the Altona cemetery near the stadium in Hamburg in this September 9, 2008 file photo. Hamburg SV is the first soccer club in Europe to have a cemetery for its fans. They can be buried close to their team's home stadium in a coffin for about 2,350 euros or they can have their ashes buried in a club urn for about 390 euros. Picture taken September 9, 2008. To match feature SOCCER/GRAVEYARD REUTERS/Christian Charisius/Files</p>