The “depressing situation”, as Uli Hesse calls it, is impressively presented to the visitor in Schwitzkastl – or more precisely: in front of their noses. Because in the gym in TSV München Ost, where the smell of sweat, old air and sportswear should actually hang in the air, it smells of paint, glue and chemical cleanliness. No wonder, after all, not a single drop of sweat has been thrown into the 250-square-meter Schwitzkastl with a glass facade facing Auerfeldstraße, because not a single TSV member has so far lifted dumbbells and pressed weights there. The newly renovated double gymnasium under the Schwitzkastl and the newly built triple gymnasium on the 1st floor are also pristine. “It all turned out beautiful,” says Hesse, who led the visitor into the deserted gym. “But unfortunately we can not use it.”
The otherwise cheerful 75-year-old says this last sentence in the tone of a funeral speaker. The former high school teacher, who has kept sports and socializing with young people visibly young, is chairman of TSV München Ost – with around 3,000 members one of the largest mass sports clubs in the city. The new hall in the club’s premises on Sieboldstraße in Haidhausen is a matter of the heart for Hesse. For the past three years, he has been on site every day as a project manager on the construction site, he says. “It’s a full-time job, 40 hours a week is not enough. We could have outsourced the project management, but it would have cost us 250,000 euros – and in the end we should still have made a decision.”
Looking back, December 2016 – a time when face mask wearers were still looked down upon in the subway. At the time, an overwhelming majority voted at the TSV delegate meeting to expand the club’s own sports facility. The double hall built in 1954 was to be renovated and a new triple hall added. The goal: to expand the sports areas from 1500 to 3200 square meters. The hall capacities were already insufficient at the time, says Hesse. “There were waiting lists in all departments.” In addition, the club assumed that membership would increase as large-scale projects with thousands of apartments had been created or planned. The conversion and new construction was to cost twelve million euros. About half came as grants from city and state, the rest the association had to raise. TSV took out a loan for this and decided on an earmarked contribution increase of 50 percent, which is still valid today.
Construction work started in February 2019. Two years later, the project was completed as planned, says Hesse proudly. With construction costs of 12.8 million euros, they are only 7.8 percent above budget – “for public buildings, it is an almost startling result,” the chairman said. He is now out on the sports field, where the outdoor facilities are still being prepared. How does he feel when he sees the new hall? Above all, joy and a little pride, says Uli Hesse. “It turned out exactly as we had imagined it.” But then his face gets darker. For even stronger, he says, is the “depressing feeling” because not a single TSV player so far has been able to play sports in the new hall. The reason for this is a virus called Sars-CoV-2, which has affected all clubs across the country for 14 months now – even though contactless indoor and outdoor contact sports are allowed again from last Wednesday due to the declining incidence. numbers, provided that all Participants are tested negative.
Until 2019, the club always had around 4,000 members, says Hesse. A year of construction and a year of pandemic later, there are only 3,000 left. Hesse says it was not the outputs that bothered his TSV. “In all that time, I have had perhaps four requests for a special termination.” What the club is doing instead is the lack of newcomers, especially in the children and youth sector. The 22 percent drop in membership is, of course, also an “economic factor,” Hesse says. With the contributions alone, the annual loss is 250,000 euros – and that with a total budget of 1.3 million euros. The club is right now in the comfortable position of having taken out many loans as a result of the construction project, and the liquidity was therefore never in danger. “But it does not go well in the long run,” Hesse emphasizes. “If the pandemic drags on any longer, it will threaten the existence of many sports clubs.”
And money is only one thing, says Uli Hesse. He is at least as preoccupied with the social consequences of the pandemic. “I’m afraid many members will not return to the sports clubs. Especially children and young people need exercise and sports so they do not just sit in front of the screen.” After all, it is now as little as possible again after the restrictions have been lifted. Also in the new gym, where there is so much space and opportunities for sports and exercise. And a Schwitzkastl, which was moved from the basement to the mezzanine as part of the remodel. The first athletes could soon throw their first drops of sweat there.