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Official Review by Stephan Hoogerwaard, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
The Fritz-Walter-Stadion is located in the city of Kaiserslautern, Germany and home of the German football club 1.FC Kaiserslautern. The stadium was one of the twelve stadiums used during the 2006 World Cup. There were four group matches played and one match in the round of 16.
The stadium can hold 48,500 spectators. The stadium is named after Fritz Walter, the captain of the West German team that won the 1954 World Cup in Bern. In a legendary final the German team beat Hungary by a score of 3-2. This match is often referred as ‘the miracle of Bern.' The stadium which opened in 1926 as the ‘Sportplatz Betzenberg’ is named after the mountain where the stadium is built. At 285 meters high the Betzenberg is still the highest ‘football mountain’ in Germany.
With an eye on the World Cup the stadium was thoroughly renovated in 2002 and 2003. The capacity increased from 46,600 to 48,500 and a new lighting system and media center was built. A newly built train station improved the flow of supporters. The costs for the renovation amounted to over 48 million euros. The ground can match the experience of venues like the Veltins Arena of FC Schalke’04 and the much bigger Signal Iduna Park of Borussia Dortmund which also were erected for the 2006 World Cup.
1.FC Kaiserslautern is nicknamed “The Red Devils” because of the red colour of their outfit. The Fritz-Walter Stadion is commonly referred to by locals as the ‘Betzenberg’ or “Hell.” This last nickname for the ground was gained because of the pyrotechnics which were lit before each match in the 1990’s. Unfortunately pyrotechnics are now forbidden inside German stadiums.
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Welcome to Germany, the country of beer and bratwurst! Fritz-Walter Stadion has plenty of this to offer, but these aren't the only options. There is a large variety of beers, sodas, candy bars, pretzels, hamburgers and bratwurst to choose from. The prices for the drinks and food are average. Please note that you can't pay with cash inside the stadium, you'll have to buy a special kind of credit card (Justpay Card) inside the ground.
The atmosphere inside the ground is just great. The stands are close to the pitch and look really massive as 75% of the stadium is made up of only one tier stands. Overlooking the stadium from one of the upper rows you can feel the impressiveness of the ground.
Fritz-Walter Stadion overlooks the city of Kaiserslautern. The stadium is situated within walking distance (15 minutes and the last part slightly uphill) from the city centre. Walking down hill after the match is much easier than the climb uphill. The supporters bar (the 12th Man) is on the foot of the mountain just opposite the main train station. During the climb uphill you will find several stalls selling football related souvenirs and street vendors offering cold beer and sodas.
After the match you may want to try the luxury Italian restaurant named 'Ristorante Filippo' in the city centre (Glöckenstrasse). Homemade pastas are served from €10.00 - €14.00, while the main courses (mainly fish and meat) are served in a price range from €16.00 - €28.00.
The Kaiserslautern fans are really fanatical. They support their team for the full 90 minutes. They are dressed mostly in their club colour (red) and are proud of being nicknamed 'Red Devils'. This name is shown on their flags and other fan related articles. Kaiserslautern's Fritz-Walter Stadion has long been a feared away venue given the rabid ferocity of Kaiserslautern fans. The most faithful of these supporters are located in the stadium's 'Westkurve' (Westside, literally West Curve).
Kaiserslautern is located in the region of Rheinland-Pfalz next to the Motorway 6. When you travel by car, just take the exit towards 270 South and then the second round-a-bout you take the 37 towards the stadium and city centre. The ground is signposted already on the Motorway, so you can hardly miss it. On match days with a ticket to the game you can ride most of the trains and buses in the region for free. On the day of the match there is limited parking available around the stadium. You may want to park your car in Kaiserslautern's centre and take the climb uphill towards the stadium.
Tickets are available for purchase at the gates of Fritz-Walter Stadion on match days. In the 2. Bundesliga (second level) Kaiserslautern will only sell out a couple of high-profile matches each season. Ticket prices range from €17.50 for a seat at the upper tier to €42.00 for a central seat in the main stand. A ticket for the standing areas costs €13.00. We bought tickets for a seat behind one of the goals (East Stand) just next to the away section. Fritz-Walter Stadion is a modern football stadium with all the facilities you should expect from a modern German football ground. Atmosphere and fan scores are on the top of the bill in the 2. Bundesliga.
The club offers guided stadium tours, so if you ever wanted to run through the players' tunnel and then take a place in the dugout, then this is your chance. If you are interested in checking out the VIP areas and press conference areas of Fritz-Walter Stadion, then take a stadium tour for just €5.00 per person (each tour lasts 90 minutes). Another extra is how the stadium is situated. You can see the ground from the city centre as it lies on top of the 'Betzenberg,' this extra is for free and it is really a beautiful sight!
When you visit a 1.FC Kaiserslautern match and you have a couple of hours spare time, then go to the city centre. Do some shopping at the shopping mall 'Pfalz Center' or go to one of the bars or restaurants of which there are plenty in the city centre.
Member Review by tazza
Welcome to a stadium that intimidates the away team and fans simply by its presence. Welcome to a stadium where the referee blows the final whistle only after the home team is leading. Welcome to a stadium full of tales. Welcome to the Red Devils. Welcome to Hell.
So far, that is the myth (forgotten are, of course, all the dreadful and sad defeats, but who remembers them anyway..?). The Fritz-Walter-Stadion or the " Hell' Betzenberg, as it is also called in common parlance, is one of the more special grounds in Germany. Built for 49,780 spectators on the " highest football mountain in Germany', the 285m high Betzenberg stadium is home of the local 1. FC Kaiserslautern. Nicknamed " the Red Devils', because of their all red uniforms, Kaiserslautern has just been promoted once again to the Bundesliga for the 2010/11 season. The club, once a founding member of the league in 1963 and a four time national champion, is now trying to revive the glorious old days after its second relegation in 2006. Days, like in 1998, when Kaiserslautern won the championship the same season they had been promoted for the first time - an unrivaled record. Or like forming the main axis of the legendary 1954 German world champion team, with players like Fritz and his brother Ottmar Walter or Horst Eckel.
The stadium is named after the late club legend and native Fritz Walter who spent his entire career in one of the smallest Bundesliga cities with only around 100,000 inhabitants. Up until now, the fans have been successful in convincing the management not to sell the stadium's name to a company willing to pay for their letters on the roof and in the media.
Kaiserslautern, Germany 67655
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