On this Saturday afternoon, it takes a bit of imagination to imagine the small town in central Jutland as the final city of the Handball World Cup. This is not because the Danish Herning seems so small-town; where the small shopping arcade in the city center comes to life on this uncomfortable day and draws attention to garlands, balloons and T-shirts in shop windows of shoe shops and restaurants.
The problem is the dense fog: the snow-covered meadows to the left and right of the highway still recognizes the eye, even the power poles or the neon-colored uniform of a park attendant. But even though the navigation device says, "You have reached your destination," the main goal of the arena is to see nothing at first.
The final hall in the fog
The World Cup in Denmark and Germany is nearing completion: in the early afternoon the DHB selection and France play for third place (14.30, TV: ZDF), followed by the final between Denmark and Norway (17.30, TV: Eurosport; both in the live ticker at SPIEGEL ONLINE). (Read here an analysis of the German semi-final defeat against Norway)
Already it is clear: The tournament will go down in the history books, there has been a new attendance record - in the end, almost 900,000 fans have visited the 96 games. This was due to large arenas in Berlin and Cologne, in Copenhagen and Munich, but also to Herning, the final destination of the World Cup. Or how Denmark's right winger would say Lasse Svan: the Danish "handball home".
Arena and fan mile under one roof
If you first stand in front of the hall called Jykse Bank Boxen, in short "boxing", you get an idea why this is supposed to be the Danish handball stronghold. Behind the fog suddenly a large dark log emerges, the oblique outer walls are reminiscent of a spaceship, on the roof four light installations shine into the sky.
In fact, it is a multipurpose hall: for handball, ice hockey and other sports. Nearly 15,000 spectators can be found here, so every third inhabitant Hernings, the stands are steep, it is Denmark's largest indoor arena.
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Connected to the "boxes" is an exhibition hall, which - Attention, next superlative! - largest in all of Scandinavia. On this area alone, you could record six to seven more handball fields. If you like: Here all World Cup games of a preliminary round could have been held simultaneously.
Currently, however, the hall is used as a fan mile: Foodtrucks are there, with a cardboard display stand of superstar Mikkel Hansen can be photographed, jerseys and handballs are sold, there are 0.4 liters of beer for six euros. Even football goals are built and they are eagerly used.
City of the masters
Grandparents with their grandchildren or fans wearing Viking hats are strolling through the exhibition this afternoon, while thousands of Spaniards are fighting for their seventh place at the arena over Egypt. It looks familiar. Like a handball village.
But how did this village come about?
Herning is actually known for two other sports: The football club FC Midtjylland became Danish champion last summer; He plays his home games right next to the "boxes" and the exhibition hall in the MCH Arena - together it is a huge sports complex. Then there is the Herning Blue Fox, 16 championships has hitherto celebrated the ice hockey club. But now it is no longer just these two clubs that should inspire Herning's inhabitants.
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"Sport is very important for our community as recreation and as an experience," says Allan Secher Thulstrup, a spokesman for the Mayor Lars Krarup the SPIEGEL: "With sports, we develop our city." That does not sound very surprising, but it works. Twenty-one people lived here 170 years ago, now there are just under 45,000 - and there are more to come. That is also why ten years ago, they decided to turn Herning into an event city. For sports, culture and trade fairs.
An important step was the construction of the Jykse Bank Boxen 2010. Since then, Herning hosts major sporting events almost every year: in 2012, the European Table Tennis Championship was hosted, and in 2013 the European Volleyball Championship, Wrestling World Championships (2009) and two opening stages of the Giro d'Italia (2012) were held in Herning like the Women's Handball World Cup 2015.
Then there were big concerts here: Rammstein, Helene Fischer, Britney Spears and Justin Bieber - the full program. The "good organization and experience with events" has led to the fact that Herning is repeatedly requested as a host, says mayor spokesman Thulstrup.
And these inquiries are likely to come in the future: By 2025, they want to expand the complex further, a cinema and a cable car should arise, the highway is extended. But that is still future music. For the first time, handball World Cup: Denmark and Norway had already played their main round matches in the "boxing". Scandinavian holidays. The sequel will be in the final.
In Video: The German World Cup Out against Norway in the analysis