There are no tickets available at this time.
Official Review by Robbie Raskin, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
Founded in 1899, Rapid Wien (or Rapid Vienna in English) are the most popular and successful club in the top-flight Austrian Bundesliga. The team have moved around quite a bit lately and are currently constructing a new stadium for themselves, to be known as Allianz Stadion. Still, the identity of the team lies in their former ground, Gerhard Hanappi Stadium at the west end of the city.
During construction of their new home field, the team are playing out of Austria’s national stadium, which is the largest in Austria. Ernst-Happel-Stadion, or the Praterstadion as it was formerly called, was started in 1929. The stadium has a long history of different uses, initially for political rallies. At an unfortunate period during the era of Nazism, the stadium was used as a temporary prison for Viennese Jews and it was severely damaged by Allied bombing in 1944.
The stadium was reconstructed in the late 1940s and in 1956 it had its capacity expanded to almost 93 000, during which time the record crowd of 91 000 saw Austria defeat Spain 3-0. The stadium was renamed in 1992 after the death of Austrian player and coach Ernst Happel and has hosted four UEFA Champions League finals, most recently in 1995.
The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:
Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
Vienna is a great food city and the Ernst-Happel does not disappoint, especially when compared to other football grounds in Europe. You could get a basic hot dog for €3.50, the cheapest hot item offered, but a bratwurst for €5 is a more interesting choice. Cheap and filling sandwiches are the most common items for sale here though. For €3.80 try a schnitzelsemmel, a sandwich with fried schnitzel in between the roll or a wurstsemmel, with smoked meat, for just €2.40. For something sweet, try local favourite Mannerschnitten, which are wafers, and are sold in packages. Manner is a well-loved Austrian brand. Beer is from Ottakringer and a 0.5L cup will cost €3.90 with a deposit for returning the cup.
Concession booths are in individual rooms off the main concourse, fitted with TV screens so you don't miss any of the action. There are enough booths that queues are not going to waste too much time. Pretzel-sellers come through the stands as well, offering a traditional snack.
Ernst-Happel stadium is huge; much too large for the average home game, and the result is the upper tier of the stadium is empty with large patches of empty seats throughout the lower ring. Also, as with many European football stadia, there are no plush amenities that characterize some indoor arenas - it is merely entrance and then seats for most fans. Still, the stadium has been kept up nicely and makes a functional home for Rapid. During derby games against local rival Austria Wien, the stadium becomes fuller, but in the meantime, the excellent acoustics do a good job of keeping the atmosphere up.
From the outside, Ernst-Happel-Stadion is an imposing round building that looms over the area but beckons fans inside. The interior consists of this round layout, with the roof covering the seats and a single video board at one end. There is a running track but the seating bowl is laid out smartly, so that the views are not too interrupted by it. The stadium is linked by a walkway between the upper and lower tiers of seats, which is fenced off surrounding the area of the ultras at one end so that walking all the way round is impossible.
It should also be noted that, as with almost everywhere in Austria, smoking is permitted within the ground but fans will need to accept that smoking is a large part of Austrian culture and happens in restaurants, bars, and even washrooms all over.
There is not much doing immediately around the stadium, as it is a forested area, mixed with residential and other sporting facilities east of downtown and near the Danube. There is a horseracing track nearby and an indoor stadium but immediately, the only main attraction is the Stadion-Center shopping mall, which is more for the locals, but does have food and drink within. The area is on a nice day an easy bike ride from the beautiful and compact centre of Vienna, but it is also well-served by public transport.
The atmosphere at the stadium is created by the fans, particularly the ultras, located in sections C and D. Throughout the match they sing and chant constantly and there is never silence from kickoff to the final whistle. The best part is that unlike in many European countries where the ultras are prominent, there is no violence or danger and fans should not feel at all uncomfortable. Even during the derby against Austria Wien, the stadium is a safe place to be. A big highlight with the ultras is before kickoff, the announcer says the first name of each player and the ultras respond by shouting the last name back - very cool to behold and testament to their knowledge of the team.
The rest of the fans in the stadium are fairly quiet, occasionally joining in the more simple chants from the ultras, but generally sitting and watching intently. Everyone seems pleasant enough and just there to enjoy the football.
Away fans are housed way up by the scoreboard, which is far away from both the action and the other fans, but if there are enough of them, the atmosphere is bolstered by their singing too.
Getting to the grounds is perfectly easy, with the Stadion station on the U-Bahn right next door. The U-Bahn is undoubtedly the best way to get to the match, with quick service from the centre and other parts of Vienna. Many regional and international coach buses also arrive at Stadion-Center mall, right next door to the ground. Also, there is a small amount of free parking onsite, but it fills up fast.
Washrooms are not great, and are the mark off here. The urinals in the mens' rooms are merely grates in the floor in most washrooms and there are not always enough sinks. Still, they are relatively clean.
Cheap tickets are available, even for the biggest games, as a result of the size of the stadium. Sightlines from any seat will be good and the atmosphere is enjoyable. Food is very reasonably priced and getting to the grounds is just €1.80 on the U-Bahn.
After the match, a large party with beer and music breaks out near the U-Bahn station, just outside the ground. Supporters sing and make it a good time, as well as discussing the results of the completed match.
A point is deserved for the intense ultras who manage to ensure a friendly and safe environment that can be rare in many European stadia.
A final extra goes to the success of Rapid, who are always competitive and can almost guarantee a good season every year.
Ernst-Happel-Stadion is really only a stopgap home for Rapid in between two homes but manages to feel like a great spot for the club. The stadium is still best-known for hosting the Austrian national team but for the time being, it is a worthy venue for the top club in the nation. If you are ever in the beautiful, historic, and fascinating city of Vienna and Rapid are playing at Ernst-Happel, it is definitely worth seeing the high-quality football and passionate support one evening in a ground that's safe as it is fun.
There are no crowd reviews yet. Be the first and help us build with your expertise!
There are no local food and drink entries. Help us build with your expertise!
There are no local entertainment entries. Help us build with your expertise!
There are no local lodging entries. Help us build with your expertise!