Weserstadion - SV Werder Bremen
Photos by Chris Tuck, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.71
Weserstadion Franz-Böhmert-Str. 1 Bremen, Germany 28205
Year Opened: 1924 Capacity: 42,354
I love Bremen... but it didn’t start well.
It’s a cold and grey winter day. I have just 24 hours to discover what makes the Weserstadion a German favourite and ascertain what this gritty north-western port city has to offer. As I arrived on my train from Hamburg, an impressive ‘up and coming’ city, Bremen refused to entice or court me with any obvious landmarks, style, or allure.
Outside the Hauptbahnhof (central station), six lanes of tram tracks, buses, and cycle paths on the pavements each sought to end my visit to Bremen before it began. A less than salubrious onward walk plus a shifty looking ‘room-mate’ in my hostel and I’m considering surfing the net for an early flight home. At this point, I’m concluding that if a football team mirrors its city’s characteristics then Werder Bremen, or the ‘green-whites’ as they are known, will be an uncompromising and feared opponent. The first sight of their 40k-plus stadium, nestled on the north bank of the River Weser however reveals such an imposing and classy grandeur that it’s clear there’s far more to Bremen than first meets the eye.
History suggests the same, whilst WB has struggled recently, with their better players poached by newest rivals Schalke, they’ve only once not been eating at the ‘Bundesliga top table.’ Their 4 league titles, 6 cups, and a 1992 European Cup Winners Cup win make them one of Germany’s top clubs. The Weserstadion, their home patch since 1909 is full for most games.
Food & Beverage 3
Eating and drinking at the stadium is an intrinsic part of the German football experience. A ‘beer and bratwurst’ is mandatory. If you buy inside the ground remember to first acquire (and load with cash) a ‘Werder Card.’ Then use the card for all purchases at the various catering outlets. As a UK supporter, this seems an unnecessary additional transaction and another queue to ‘enjoy’ but it is normal across Europe and you can buy outside if it bothers you.
Outside the ground, catering stalls can be found behind the north stand (Gates 4-8) and behind the west stand (Gate 11), providing the usual sustenance options.
Back inside ‘Hunger & Durst’ catering outlets provide bratwurst (a mild smoked pork sausage) at 3.30 Euros, currywurst at 3.50 Euros, and krakauer (a smoked and cured sausage with garlic) at 3.30 Euros. You can get some brezel (a glazed brittle biscuit) for 2.50 Euros and for some matches, they also have some frikadelle im brotchen (Meatball rolls).
Hunger & Durst also provides a variety of drink options: soft drinks come in at an expensive 4.20 Euros, coffee 2.50 Euros, and Becks and Haake Beck (a low alcohol version) are 4.30 Euros.
In the south stand, drinks can also be purchased from a supporter’s bar that does a brisk business serving Becks into special club-branded containers which you can keep as a memento or return and get some cash back.
If you’d like to avoid queuing for a werder card, then try offering a supporter 5 Euros cash at the bar and use their card, job is done.
The atmosphere at the stadium is positive, even when Werder is experiencing a tough season. With only a small ‘away’ allocation it is left to the home fans to make the majority of the noise. Weserstadion has hosted international football but was sadly overlooked as a venue for the 2006 World Cup. A recent interview with former player Sandro Wagner suggested playing at the Weserstadion “still makes the hairs on the back of his neck stand up.”
The ground has been developed many times over the years; football was played here as far back as 1909. The most recent upgrades began in 2008 and have bequeathed an impressive stadium. A request to add a third tier however proved too costly. If that were to ever go ahead this really could be up with the best grounds in the world.
A ground with no real ‘bad views,’ the playing surface was lowered during the last renovation which helps sight lines and gives a ‘close to the action’ feel, lacking when the ground had an athletics track in years past. Two LED video screens provide the information you need including ‘goal flashes’ from other Bundesliga games, this adds to the atmosphere as relegation rivals' goals are jeered and, when they concede, cheers.
The unique features of the ground are the floodlights. Sixty-one metres high, peering down into the ground like ticketless schoolboys striving to get a view of the action. The other unique string in the Weserstadion is environmental; the stadium website explains best:
“The centerpiece is a state-of-the-art photovoltaic system, which consists of a total of 200,000 solar cells and blends harmoniously into the construction concept. The system covers an area of more than 2 football fields and generates up to one million kilowatt hours of electricity per year. This efficient use of renewable energies significantly reduces CO2 emissions and thus relieves the burden on the environment."
The Weserstadion is southeast of central Bremen, however, it’s by no means an ‘out of town’ ground. The size of Bremen means that the use of the trams or buses isn’t necessary during a visit but of course, they’re available if needed. Location means a lot to football fans, being able to walk from your city centre to the ground and straight back afterward is an attractive component of a fan’s match day experience.
Three main areas are recommended to be explored during a visit; Viertel, Schlachte, and Alstadt.
Viertel is an upmarket area with bars, restaurants, and coffee shops. If you stay in central Bremen it’s on the way to the ground as well. Coffee Corner (on the corner of Vor dem Steintor & Am Dobben) does exactly what it says on the packet and is great for people watching too! Further east along Vor dem Steintor is Bellini’s, a great Italian restaurant that shows Sky Sports.
Schlachte has several bars and restaurants overlooking the River Weser. With Beck’s factory on the opposite bank, seemingly looking over your shoulder, you’ll feel bad ordering anything else (nonalcoholic versions available). Red Rock bar provides a lively atmosphere and shows the Bundesliga Friday night match. You can visit the Beck’s factory by the way and of course, the tour involves a little sampling.
Altstadt (old town) is impressive and by day you need to tick off the town hall and Roland statue, both UNESCO world heritage sites, and St Petri Dom (cathedral) in the market square. Seek out the Spitzen Gebelin bar in a side street adjacent to the square, a 14th Century gothic townhouse, badly damaged in World War II.
A trail you could take heads from the Aldstadt to Viertel then on to the Weserstadion. Stroll from the marketplace through the delightful windy lanes of Schnoor, numerous craft shops and bars are well worth a visit. Then head to Tandour restaurant, highly recommended by the locals, before continuing along Am Wall for the Kunsthalle Bremen art gallery featuring Rembrandt and Rubens no less. Then it’s the Theatre am Goetheplatz (however if it’s theatre you want the Theaterschiff, a theatre on a boat moored on the River Weser is worth experiencing).
Continue along Am Wall, it’s a road that also provides some interesting street art and graffiti. The road becomes Ostertorsteinweg and that’s where the Irish bar Hegarty’s can be found. Deceptively large, there is a great atmosphere with the standard Irish singer and his guitar. At this point on the walk you are back to Coffee Corner and the Viertel area, another recommended bar here is Bermuda, especially when it's happy hour. Then continue to the Taubenschlag to meet the fans.
Accommodation-wise, Townside Hostel is more than adequate (just up the road from Coffee Corner), but the City Ibis at 60 Euros a night might be more to your liking. Worth noting the Bremen tourism website is excellent and a must-visit if you are going to come to Bremen.
Werder has a passionate and knowledgeable fan base that is proud of its Hanseatic status. The numerous ultra-groups add spice of course, many of whom drink in the Taubenschlag and other nearby bars just up the Auf Dem Peterswerder from the ground.
Rivals of old are the mighty Bayern Munich, local rivals are Hamburg, and the newest addition to the list of rivals is Schalke. Capacity at the Weser is 42,100 and Werder fans' regular support means they average over 40,000 per match each season.
The fans behind the goal on the east side of the ground (Ostkurve) make most of the noise, choreographed by a new loud hailer. This area of the ground is standing and the chants keep coming, the most spine-tingling when they call out ‘Werder’ and the west stand replies with ‘Bremen,’ over and over again. Then add all the usual songs and tunes you’d expect.
As a fan from England, it’s always great to hear the Germans singing ‘Football’s Coming hHome’ which they do heartily before the game begins. A goal for the home side is followed by the sound of a fog horn and then ‘The Proclaimers” are blasted out on the tannoy singing 500 Miles, random but brilliant.
The size of Bremen means you don’t necessarily need to use the trams or buses once during your visit, but of course, they are there and available to use if needed. There are various ways to get to the Weserstadion;
Walk – One route to get to the stadium is to walk along the Weser River, just 1 kilometre from the Aldstadt. The ground gradually comes into view and for night games those impressive floodlights beckon you in.
Boat - One better than that would be to arrive by boat, prices from as low as 3.50 Euros and you can board from various locations – more info on the Bremen Tourism website
Tram - Better to be in a tram than under one, so you can take the number 3 to the Weserstadion stop.
Car - Cars are restricted near the ground however beyond that try north of the ground or use one of the parks and rides.
Train – It’s a 40-minute walk from Bremen Hauptbahnhof.
Fly – Bremen airport is very close to the city center so that’s your plan a. If you fly into Hamburg airport, it’s a 20-minute train ride into Hamburg Hauptbahnhof followed by an hour train to Bremen.
Tickets can be purchased online from the club website and if you are on the ball, they are no problem to purchase. Once in the concourse areas, toilets and catering facilities are all within easy reach. If you have specific access issues then contact the club before you visit.
Return on Investment 3
Tickets range in price depending on the category of the game. For a category 2 game expect to pay between 30-50 Euros with terrace tickets even cheaper. Buy online from the club website which includes a print-at-home option.
Overall a trip to Bremen is good value. The Bundesliga is still cheaper than the English Premier League and often the atmosphere eclipses its UK counterpart. The Proclaimers' song played after the Bremen goal is worth the admission fee alone.
Of course, it’s not cheap. We all know that lower down the football ‘food chain’ there are grassroots clubs that provide a warm welcome at a tenth of the price. However, in its context and maybe with a match where there are a higher number of traveling fans, the Weserstadion will be rocking and you wouldn’t be worrying too much about the amount you spend.
Museum – There is a club museum within the north stand. Make time to visit if you can.
Tours – Similarly if you are in Bremen for a few days you can book a tour of the stadium.
Programme – Full colour, A4, 36 pages, and surprisingly good for mainland Europe, which isn’t noted for its programme par excellence.
Bremen is an open-minded, honest, and traditional city, and the football stadium and the team share those features. After an enjoyable week in Hamburg, enemy territory for Bremen fans, followed by an inauspicious introduction to the city, I leave with a heavy heart. Why? Because this place gets under your skin.
Yes, there are fewer ‘bright lights’ than in Hamburg, but gems like the Market Square, the Schnoor and the huge mural of an old couple looking out on the city from the corner of Auf Den Hafen and Eduard-Grunow Starbe are irresistible. Then there is the walk along the river Weser towards the stadium, which is hugely evocative.
From almost a kilometre away you can see it’s special, but as you get closer and closer its imposing shape and positioning do impress. I met a proper Bremen fan too, humble, fun and so welcoming that I’m not leaving early, I’m left wishing I could stay a while longer, and you will too.