German soccer team renames stadium after fan who died of cancer

Sometimes, sports teams contribute to lovely tributes to some of their fans who have died. For one fan, who died of cancer, one German Bundesliga team renamed their entire stadium in tribute.

SV Darmstadt’s stadium will be known as the “Jonathan-Heimes-Stadion-am-Böllenfalltor” after one of their biggest fans, Johnny Heimes, succumbed to cancer at the age of 26 after being diagnosed at 14. An agreement was made with the company Merck to waive their stadium naming rights for the rest of the 2016-17 Bundesliga season. Darmstadt players say that they will be playing in “Johnny’s living room” this year since he spent so much time at the stadium cheering on Darmstadt.

Heimes’ devotion to Darmstadt amid his cancer fight was a source of motivation for the team as they tried to promote to the top soccer league in Germany. Last season, Darmstadt played in its first Bundesliga season and placed 14th, staying in the league.

Darmstadt’s sponsors, who have given up their sponsorship rights, also pledged to a non-profit charity called “Dumusstkämpfen” (German for “You have to fight on”). A charity set up by Heimes and professional tennis player Andrea Petkovic “to help young cancer sufferers.” Along with Merck giving up stadium naming rights, kit sponsor Software AG will replace their sponsor with the Dumusstkämpfen logo on the anniversary of his death and then auctioning the match worn kits with the money going to the charity.

All in all, this is a nice tribute given to a fan who loved his team and got some happiness as he fought cancer half his life. SV Darmstadt and their sponsors felt this was least they could do was to do something like this and it’s something that won’t soon be forgotten.

[Bundesliga/Photo: Christan Grau]

About Phillip Bupp

News editor for The Comeback and Awful Announcing, highlight consultant for Major League Soccer as well as a freelance writer for hire. Opinions are my own but feel free to agree with them. Follow me on Twitter @phillipbupp