FC Schalke fans who live and die by their club are being given the opportunity to literally live and die by their club with the opening of the official Schalke cemetery.
The Beckenhausen-Sutum cemetery, which overlooks the Veltins Arena, will include a dedicated space for die-hard (sorry) supporters from December. The Königsblauen-themed resting place is the size of half a football field and will include 1,904 graves, in reference to the club's year of foundation. It will be decorated to look like a stadium, with turf, full-size goals with mourner-friendly substitutes benches in them, and a Schalke crest made up of blue and white flowers.
Since it is already popular for fans to be buried in a royal blue coffin at Schalke-themed ceremonies, demand for the plots has been strong since the site was announced in July. According to daily newspaper The Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger, the graves will cost €1,250 ($1,600) to reserve, and €125 ($160) per year thereafter for upkeep.
Schalke Fan Club Association vice chairman Rolf Rojek has already reserved plot number "04," and another loyal fan has called shotgun on number "215," in recognition of the date the Gelsenkirchen side won the UEFA Cup (May 21, 1997 or 21/5).
According to The Sun, many fans will have their burial plots moved to the new site (by relatives and not of their own accord, obvs) and some former club stars may even be laid to rest in the new "Fan Field" too:
Some long-dead fans will be reburied there at their relatives' request to honour their lifelong support of their beloved club.
There are also plans for Schalke legends of the past to be moved to the site, which will also serve as a memorial for the club and its fans. Schalke, known for their strong links with fans groups, will offer a number of free places to hard-up supporters.
Responding to the presumption that Schalke 04 is making money from death, a club statement has said: "Schalke 04 will not make any money from anyone's death."
The Bundesliga side will not make any profit from the venture as it says it does not want to do "business with death," but is endorsing the project as "the need for Schalke fans to have such a place exists."
Interestingly, Schalke isn't the first team to cater to its fans' post-life needs. Boca Juniors opened the first fan graveyard in 2006 and Hamburg followed suit in 2008.