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Sports

Dortmund wins race for German Soccer Museum

In a classic Ruhr valley derby, Dortmund pips Gelsenkirchen to become the home to the new 30 million euro German Football Museum, which the German Football Federation (DFB) hopes to open in 2012.

Dortmund and Schalke fans wave banners insulting their rival clubs

Schalke and Dortmund fans aren't afraid to put their dislike for each other on display

The cities of Dortmund and Gelsenkirchen are located just half an hour apart, and their respective principal soccer clubs, Borussia Dortmund and Schalke 04, are bitter rivals. Ordinarily, the two cities' fans receive just two chances per year – when the club sides play each other – to put one over on the other.

Friday's decision by the German Football Federation (DFB) to build the new German Football Museum in Dortmund and not in Gelsenkirchen, however, is a bit more permanent.

The DFB called a special congress in Duesseldorf to decide on a site for the museum. A host of cities – from Frankfurt to Leipzig to Munich – had applied for the honor in 2007. On Friday though, only two finalists remained: Gelsenkirchen and Dortmund. And in a 137 to 102 vote, Dortmund prevailed.

Elated by the news, boosters from Dortmund were raring to get started.

“Everyone has big expectations that we'll present football as an experience,” said Dortmund Mayor Gerhard Langemeyer. “Starting today we're going to give everything we've got, there's no time to waste.”

Gelsenkircheners, meanwhile, tried to take positives from the vote – Mayor Frank Baranowski said that even though his city's proposal lost out, the new museum was still good news for Gelsenkirchen. “The winners are the people of the Ruhr valley region,” he said.

A rich prize

Dortmund Mayor Gerhard Langemeyer

Dortmund Mayor Gerhard Langemeyer says the museum has the city's full support

There was much money at stake in the project. The German federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia, in which both cities are located, has pledged an 18.5 million-euro investment in the project, and the DFB will spend a further 11.5 million.

DFB General Secretary Wolfgang Niersbach said the money will come from a fund which the federation set up with profits from its successful participation in organizing the 2006 World Cup. What's more, as the museum is almost certain to be a big hit among soccer-mad Germans, he thinks it's money well spent.

“If everybody pays seven euros to get in, and we get the more than 200,000 visitors a year that we expect, we'll be in the black,” said Niersbach.

The DFB explained that the key to Dortmund's win was the location of its proposed museum site.

"We're providing best available piece of land in the inner city," Mayor Gerhard Langemeyer said.

Gelsenkirchen, on the other hand, had proposed to build the museum near Schalke's stadium, roughly five kilometers north of the city centre.

For a set of fans accustomed to losing (Gelsenkirchen's Schalke has not won the a German championship in 50 years), perhaps the loss of a museum is just more water under the bridge.