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Official Review by Stephan Hoogerwaard, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
The Weserstadion in Bremen is the football (soccer) stadium of German Bundesliga club, SV Werder Bremen. The stadium is located on the right bank of the river Weser. From 2008 to 2011, Weserstadion was rebuilt and modernized. Since its completion in 2011, the stadium has a capacity of 42,354 seats. However, this was not the first major rebuilding of Weserstadion in its history.
It all started in 1909, when a sports field with a 400-meter running track and a wooden stand was built by the Bremer general gymnastics and sports club. In 1926, the stadium received its first grandstand, changing rooms, and restaurant. The stadium was now a multifunctional arena and was used alongside football games for mass political events. The stadium received its present name in 1930, in that year SV Werder Bremen started playing their home matches at Weserstadion.
Between 1934 and 1945 the stadium was called Bremer Arena and primarily served the Nazi Party. During World War II, there were three anti-aircraft batteries on the site of the stadium. From 1945 to 1947, it was known as "IKE Stadium" and was used for American team sports. Since its reopening in 1947, it carries the name Weserstadion again.
Between 1963 and 2007 Weserstadion experienced many expansions, renovations, and refurbishments. In 1965, the curved stands were completed with a top tier, as a reward for the first German football championship by Werder Bremen. In 1978, the North Stand was rebuilt and floodlight towers were installed. These floodlights held at the time the strongest illumination of a European football field. In 1992, Weserstadion was the first stadium in Germany with VIP boxes. In 2002, the interior of the stadium was lowered, the 400-meter running track was removed, and overlaid with mobile stands. The capacity of the stadium increased by 8,000 to approximately 43,500 seats.
The final conversion took place back in 2008. The curved stands at either end of the stadium were straightened and all stands are now closer to the pitch. Weserstadion was converted into a football-only stadium. After its completion in 2011, the stadium holds a capacity of 42,354 seats. Remarkable fact: all the roofs of the stands are overlaid with photovoltaic cells (solar panels), which also includes the new façade of South Stand.
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".
If you want to buy some food or a drink in or around Weserstadion, you will need a "Werder Card", as cash is not accepted at the vending points. According to good German tradition, you will drink a couple of beers before the match. Beck's is the most popular of its kind and is available in 0.3- or 0.5-litre plastic glasses. Don't throw away your plastic glass, because it carries a €1.00 deposit, which is included in the price when you buy your first beer. After the match, you can collect your deposit or keep the plastic glass with a Werder player on it. Inside the ground, there are plenty of counters where you can buy almost everything from snacks to small meals, from candy bars to pizza slices. Just don't forget to upload enough money on your Werder Card before ordering!
The atmosphere inside the ground is good. When the players enter the pitch, there is a tifo-action by the Werder Bremen Ultras. At this game in early 2013, they lifted three big flags with images of players on it, behind which was sea of green and white (the club colours of Werder) pieces of paper held by the supporters. That gave a very spectacular view. Unfortunately, there were no pyrotechnics as we encountered before during our trips to FC Schalke'04 and Paris Saint-Germain.
Weserstadion is located on the right bank of the river Weser in the Pauline Marsh; this is a flood plain in the suburb, Peterswerder. The flood plain is a sensitive recreation area. On the other side of the street adjacent there is a densely populated residential area. Directly next to the stadium, you can find the "Stadionbad" (a popular public indoor and outdoor swimming pool), two tennis clubs, and a sailing club. The city center is only just 2 kilometers away.
The Werder fans are very friendly. During the pre-match drinking session (which is common in Germany), at one of the beer selling points just outside the ground, we spoke with a couple of Werder fans. We were asked why we are in Bremen. After we explained that we came all the way from Holland just for the match, they responded enthusiastically.
There are several Ultra groups in Bremen: "The Infamous Youth" and "Ultra-Team Bremen" are just a few. They support their team in every home and away match.
The traffic situation around Weserstadion and the lack of parking on site is the major deficiency of the stadium. The only way to go to the stadium is through the Osterdeich, which always leads to massive traffic problems. The few parking spaces may only be used by authorized persons with special passes. There is not even an adequate VIP parking. On match days, the roads are blocked widely around the stadium, and only residents are allowed into these blocked areas. There is a shuttle system in operation that transports fans who are arriving by car. If you stay in the historic city center like we did, you can take the tram (line 10) from the Central Station to Weserstadion (exit stop St.-Jürgen-Straße).
Ticket prices are divided in 4 categories. It depends on the opponent what price you pay for your ticket, as the visiting teams are categorized in A, B, or C matches. The price for a B match ticket in the standing area at one end of the ground is the cheapest (€13.00). Tickets for the main stand at a B match costs €50.00. We paid €25.00 for our seat behind the goal (1st tier). The only negative about these seats is a large net covering the whole end to catch balls which are shot wide during the action. Otherwise, we enjoyed the ground, atmosphere, and Bremen's historic city very much.
Since December 2004, a museum is located at Weserstadion. This Werder museum is called "Wuseum". You can see the championship trophy, the DFB Cup, and other trophies won. There are also many old photos and rare posters to see.
There is another shuttle system in operation for travelling to Weserstadion which is unique in Europe. You can travel to the home matches of Werder Bremen by boat. This boat departs from Vegesack, the Waterfront/Pier2, and Martinianleger, heading directly to Weserstadion.
The historic city centre of Bremen was quite a surprise to me, really spectacular. Despite the city's key military sites being bombed throughout World War II, the historic part of the city was saved. So when you are in Bremen for a football match, don't forget to visit the old historic city centre. I'm sure you won't be disappointed.
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