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Official Review by Gary Foxall, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
Hohe Warte stadium in Vienna was once the largest sports venue in Austria. Its record attendance was 85,000 for the Austria vs Italy soccer match in 1923. These days the capacity is restricted to 5,500 with only the main stand in operation due to safety concerns with the rest of the stadium.
The large areas of open terracing are now covered with years of overgrown grass and weeds but you can just about make out where those 85,000 would have stood. The bottom of the terracing does have three temporary stands but the low attendances that First Vienna now attracts are easily housed in the main stand. The stadium has four old style floodlight pylons and at the back of the terracing sits a tower with what resembles a large golf ball sitting on top of it.
First Vienna FC was founded in 1894, and is Austria’s oldest football club. The team has past glory, but has mainly been relegated outside of the Austrian Bundesliga for most of the last few decades. Their most recent Austrian Bundesliga title came in 1955. It was their sixth in the league.
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The stadium has two kiosks inside the main stand and a bar and burger bar at its entrance once inside. All of these sell beer and wine in addition to hot drinks. In true German/Austrian tradition you can also buy the normal range of Frankfurters and Bratwursts. All are reasonably priced and the barbecue feel adds to the occasion.
With only one side of the stadium now in use one can only imagine what the atmosphere would have been like in the days when the venue attracted large attendances. However both home and away supporters were vocal at the game I attended. Both sets of supporters do their best to boost the noise levels with drums and trumpets. For the enthusiasts of old venues a visit here is a must.
There is not a lot to do in the immediate vicinity of the stadium. However a fifteen minute tram journey takes you to the heart of the romantic city of Vienna. The city is a must to visit. Despite being modern, the city's historic buildings are a pleasure for the eye. Visits to see a Mozart/Strauss concert and to view the magnificent white horses at the Spanish Riding school are musts, as is St Stephens Cathedral. The central area can be easily walked, but if restricted, take the tram or Hop on Hop off Tourist Bus as a good option for getting around.
First Vienna were languishing at the bottom of the second tier of the Austrian football league at the time of my visit and would be relegated the amateur third tier. Crowds are low but the club has a hard core of genuine support. Austria Wien and Rapid Wien are the club's most notable enemies, although games against their Viennese rivals are few and far between.
Vienna has an excellent transport system and the stadium, which is located in the Dobling district, can be accessed by using Tram line D (Brown) in the direction of Nubdorf. The nearest railway station is Franz Josef where you can connect with the above tram. U Ban metro station Heilgenstadt on line U4 is a fifteen minute walk through February 12th Square to the stadium. Vienna Airport easily connects with the city using the Central Airport Train.
Tickets are priced at 11 Euro for a seat in the Main Stand which offers a good view of the action, old terraces and the large Golf Ball building.
There is a club stall within the stadium but very little else in the way of extras. This was once a big and beautiful stadium, but it is now just a shell of its former glory.
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