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Official Review by Tarek Zohdi, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
There is something peculiar about SC Freiburg. It is arguably the least opposed club in Germany or to put it in more positive words, somehow everybody loves this club. Of course you support your own club, but when the Sports Club from Freiburg plays, suddenly everyone admits crossing their fingers for them as well.
Is it the beauty of the city? The reputation being a young university town? The fact that the small city is led by Greens who promote urban environmental protection? Or is it the club itself who always makes the most of its limited financial resources and regularly defies the Bundesliga powerhouses?
The city of Freiburg lies in the Breisgau area, and functions as the entry gate to the Black Forest. Environmental awareness among its citizens is thus very high and led the city to the forefront of environmental protection. The Mage Solar Stadium is sponsored by a solar panel producing company, and fans tend to arrive by public transport or especially by bike. The small stadium is only a 24,000-seater although “seater” is probably the wrong word here as 10,000 fans find their place on standing terraces.
The club undergoes the usual fate of small clubs, upbringing and developing young talents, which are then bought by clubs with a higher financial potential or a better sportive promise. Despite these losses, the club tries to never neglect its own identity by focusing on young no-name talents rather than players who have passed their prime. Another aspect of the Freiburg DNA is the heartwarming football, which led to the nickname ‘Breisgau Brazilians’ given by the alliteration-loving media.
It is not easy to find an answer to the questions, apparently even the Bundesliga association feels a certain something towards the club: the DFL provides SC Freiburg with a special permit, as the pitch in the Mage Solar Stadium is almost five meters too short according to the rulebook.
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".
The selection of drinks and snacks in the stadium is rather conventional. You'll get your sodas and beers alongside several traditional regional sausages just as in any other football stadium in Germany. Prices are rather moderate compared to other Bundesliga arenas.
Although it is only a small arena, the 24,000 fans are able to produce a Bundesliga comparable atmosphere on the small roofed stands. What helps them is the unmatchable closeness to the pitch. Fans sit only a couple of meters away from the green and are able to spot every sweat drop on the players' faces or to challenge the opposing goalkeeper.
The Mage Solar Stadium lies within a residential area. Apart from a few options in nearby Tennis clubs or other clubhouses there is no real bar scene going on outside the stadium. Instead, you can appreciate nature, as the stadium lies quite picturesque next to the river Dreisam and under the foothills of the Black Forest. That's why you should bring your own snacks and enjoy them along with the nature by the river instead of squeezing yourselves in rather dull clubhouses.
For enjoying a couple of drinks before and after the match, Freiburg establishes its reputation as a university town with a lot of bars and clubs in the historic district.
Being a city with just over 200,000, the local fan base is rather small compared to other first division teams. Despite that, or maybe because of that, Freiburgers are very dedicated to their club, possibly even more than fans of more popular clubs. Apart from the true fan base, you see a lot of fans wearing different club crests to the game. This also implies that Freiburg fans are very tolerant and peaceful. A lot of students from other parts of the country can be spotted in the stands making Freiburg their second team, if there is such thing. That might be the reason why the club sometimes lacks the support during away games, but also what makes this venue so welcoming to fans regardless of affiliation.
There are not many possibilities to park your car within this residential zone. The easiest way to get to the arena is by parking the car either downtown or on one of the many Park+Ride spaces and take the tram. Several trams leave downtown Freiburg. It will only take you a couple of minutes and your ticket to the match functions as a public transport ticket. Or, if you look at the photos, you can also do as the Romans do and arrive by bike.
The stadium in Freiburg is a venue for football nostalgics rather than event fans. Everything is a little bit more down to earth and honest than in so many other multifunctional arenas nowadays. Knowing this, you might overlook some aspects such as an affected view from several spots in the stadium. But prices are comparably low and you'll get to see a young team determined to play heartwarming football.
Where modern arenas score in this category with museums, VIP boxes or conference rooms, the stadium in Freiburg triumphs with an actual important extra: environmental friendliness. With its solar and photovoltaic technology, the Mage Solar Stadium produces 250,000 kwh per year and is thus able to cover almost its complete energy consumption. This underlines Freiburg's effort to become one of the eco-friendliest cities in the world.
A visit to the Mage Solar Stadium lets you remember what a stadium is or rather was all about: a green field, stands, and sausage. If you're the one who can neglect all opulent extravaganzas, this stadium holds a different kind of luxury. The river Dreisam and the foothills of the Black Forest place the stadium into an extraordinary scenery and the fans as well as the stadium employees are very friendly and helpful. What else do you really need?
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