SV WEHEN WIESBADEN
NEW GUIDE - AUGUST 2023
Founded: Jan 1, 1926
Club Members: 657
Coach: Markus Kauczinski
Captain: Sascha Mockenhaupt
Oberliga Hessen: 1
Landespokal Hessen Winner: 7
In terms of winning trophies, 1.FC Union Berlin are far from being one of football's most successful clubs. They are however one of its big success stories. Living up to their nickname Eisern Union (Iron Union), they survived the communist regime and post re-unification upheaval to become one of the very few former East German clubs still playing professional football today. They were an alternative for punks, hippies, rockers and social outcasts who rejected the GDR ideology. This is a club that has rebelled against the all-out commercialism of modern football and instead has its roots planted firmly in the working class community it represents. This is a club that takes football back to basics. This is a club of the people.
Although a child of the GDR, Union's origins can be traced back as far as 1906 and up until World War 2 they were a largely uncompetitive side playing first as Olympia Oberschöneweide and later as Union Oberschöneweide in regional championships. They moved into their current Stadion an der Altern Försterei home in 1920 but it wasn't until shortly after the war that the story of how they came to be the 1.FC Union Berlin of today really began.
At the time, the club had more or less fallen apart as players defected to allied controlled West Berlin, and in the east the Soviets intensified their efforts to stamp out fascism which their paranoia led them to believe was harboured in the minds of sportsmen. As a consequence, the order was given for all sports clubs to disband and start from scratch; and it was as a result of this sporting 'Stunde null ' (zero hour) that 1.FC Union Berlin were formed in 1966.
The state had total control over everyday life including football, and the Stasi (State Security Forces) began to favour certain clubs, with BFC Dynamo a particular favourite. With state sponsorship behind them, and amid accusations of biased refs and corruption which saw the best players 'stolen' from other teams, Dynamo won 10 consecutive East German League titles between 1979 and 1988. Players considered to be past their best were sent to Union who at this time were viewed as perennial underdogs with their only success being an East German Cup win in 1968. After the fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989 however, the football landscape in Germany changed markedly as Dynamo's previous dominance disappeared along with the communist leaders; and they tumbled down to non league obscurity. Despite Union having since left their old GDR foe behind, memories remain strong however and Dynamo's name is still Ein Schimpfwort (a swear word) at the Stadion an der Altern Försterei.
After reunification, Union performed well on the pitch but financial troubles during which they sent fake bank drafts to the DFB in order to secure their playing licence saw them twice prevented from being admitted into the Bundesliga.2, before being allowed in at the third time of asking following promotion in 2001. The same year they reached the DFB-Pokal Final which as a third division club was unheard of in German football. Bundesliga heavyweights Schalke 04 denied them glory that day and things gradually began to unravel for Union after that, both on and off the pitch. Relegations were suffered against a backdrop of yet more financial difficulties and only a campaign by supporters called 'Bleed for Union' raised enough cash to secure the club's playing licence in 2004.
Recent years however have seen a return to form for the club and after re-establishing themselves in the second tier as a financially stable club, Union enjoyed a remarkable campaign in 2019 when they beat VfB Stuttgart in a play-off to secure promotion to the Bundesliga for the first time in their history.
Ground Name: BRITA Arena
Architect: Albert Speer & Partner
Construction Costs: €16m
Year Opened: 2007
Renovations: 2019 - 2021
Capacity: 15,295 (5,800 standing)
Executive Boxes: 14
Executive Box Seats: 195
Wheelchair Spaces: 16
Undersoil Heating: Yes
Running Track: No
Floodlights: 1087 lux
LED Video Screen: Yes
Playing Surface: Natural Grass
Pitch Size: 105m x 68m
Stadion am Halberg (1927 - 2007)
BRITA Arena (2007 - )
The "Old Forester's House", built on the edge of woodland in the Köpenik district of Berlin, is a glorious throwback to a time before 'fully-enclosed, two-tier' stadium design became the norm, and it was here that the workers of East Berlin gathered on the terraces looking for football to give them respite from the bleak austerity of communism.
Home to 1.FC Union Berlin since 1920, for a long time the Stadion an der Altern Försterei didn't keep pace with the club's on-field progress and in turn hampered it's efforts to move further up the leagues. It wasn't until 1970 in fact that the first renovations were undertaken with the rebuilding of the original Gegengerade terrace, and although further works were carried out in the early 1980s, the stadium quickly fell into a state of disrepair as money became tight due to falling football attendances across East Germany throughout the decade.
Like many clubs in the former GDR, Union struggled financially in the years after reunification, and by 2006 the spartan facilities on offer forced the German FA to remove the stadium's licence thus preventing it from hosting matches in the top three leagues. Faced with the prospect of having to leave their spiritual home the club embarked on a major programme of renovation in 2008 and called on supporters to lend-a-hand. Football fans have always had a strong bond for terraces, and nowhere is it stronger than at Union Berlin as 2000 Unioners came forward, volunteering their skills and over 140,000 man hours to literally rebuild their own ground. The crumbling stone terraces were recast with concrete complete with roofing; and new perimeter fencing, undersoil heating and a digital scoreboard were also added before the stadium reopened in May 2009 with a friendly match against city rivals Hertha Berlin. A second phase of renovation took place in 2013 when the club, realising the part commercialism can play in modern football, built a smart new main stand complete with VIP areas and a grand facade - thanks again in part to contributions from supporters.
Today, the stadium has a capacity of 22,000 which, given the Olympiastadion's athletics background, makes the Stadion an der Altern Försterei the largest football-only venue in the German capital. There are three fully covered connected terraces, save for a small area of seating in the south stand which is given over to visiting supporters. The single-tier main stand complete with executive boxes is not connected to the terraces and both corners of the ground are therefore open. The home end for Union supporters is the Waldseite (North Stand) and away followers are put in Sektor 5 of the opposite Wuhleseite (South Stand).
Apart from football, the stadium is also famous for events that engage with the local community. In 2003, 89 fans attended the first Union Weihnachtssingen which at the time was an unofficial gathering to drink glühwein, wave candles, light flares and sing Christmas carols. By 2013 the 23rd December event had become an annual fixture and over 27,000 people were there, including players and fans from clubs all over Europe.
In 2014, the club followed this up with the idea of inviting fans to bring their own sofas to the ground to watch the entire World Cup Tournament. More than 800 sofas were brought onto the pitch in front of a big screen, and Weltmeisterschaft Wohnzimmer was recognised with the 'Fan Experience' Award in 2015.
2022-2023: 4,297 (3.LIga)
2021-2022: 2,287 (3.Liga) *
2020-2021: N/A *
2019-2020: 3,727 (Bundesliga.2) *
2018-2019: 3,153 (3.Liga)
* Season affected by COVID pandemic
Expected Ticket Availability
SVWW have done their best to generate some interest amongst the region's 21,000-strong American ex-pat community and have thoughtfully given their online ticket shop an English language version. Tickets bought online are delivered in MobileTicket or Print@Home formats. With a large American community in the area, the people of Hesse can speak a little English so you should also be able to secure a ticket by ringing the ticket hotline on +49 (0) 180 6991167
Tickets can also be bought at the club office during the week or on a matchday from the ticket offices around the ground which will open 90 minutes before kick-off.
Despite having one of the smallest grounds in the league, Wiesbaden have historically been a club with a small fanbase and even though the return in Bundesliga.2 will bring a few 'post promotion' fans through the gates, the gap between ticket supply and demand is likely to be healthy one. The only matches where there might be a bit of a scramble are likely to be the visits of Hamburger SV, Schalke 04 and possibly 1.FC Kaiserslautern. Keen to avoid having their ground taken over by thousands of away fans, Wiesbaden will strictly control sales for these matches and tickets are likely to be hoovered up by season ticket holders and club members. And even it it does make it to a Public/General Sale phase, it's likely this will be restricted to fans with a buying history.
Roughly speaking, full-payer tickets range from €20.50-€40.50 for seats, and you can stand on the terraces from €12.50. Tickets are €2 more expensive if bought from the stadium box offices on a matchday. Family tickets in the LAUER GmbH Osttribüne (Blocks O13 and O14) are also available for €9 per person up to a maximum of 2 adults and 5 children. There's usually a high demand for these so the club advise booking well in advance. Discounts are given to children (aged 6 - 14 years old), students, senior citizens, club members, the unemployed etc. Even younger fans (0-6 years old) can watch SVWW for free - although they're not entitled to a seat of their own and must instead sit on a parents' lap. Note that children under 14 years old aren't allowed in the stadium unless accompanied by an adult and for understandable reasons, children under 5 years old can't go in the Nord-Tribüne fanblock (Blocks N5, N6, N7, N8) - even with an adult in tow.
Information about visiting the BRITA Arena for fans with disabilities can be found at:
GETTING THERE & AWAY
Berliner Straße 9
If you're coming by car, the simplest advice is to put the stadium address in your Sat-Nav and follow its guidance. Parking is available for €5 at P3 on Balthasar Neumann Straße; or at the Salzbachaue car park on Gartenfeldstraße next to the Hauptbahnhof about a 5-10 minute walk away (see 'Walking Directions' below)
Match tickets include the cost of 2nd class travel on a matchday anywhere within the Rhein-Main-Verkehrsverbund (RMV) transport area from five hours before kick-off until 3am the following morning. This includes travel from Darmstadt, Mainz, Offenbach and right from the centre of Frankfurt. Don't forget to personalise the RMV-Kombiticket by adding your name to it during the booking process.
There isn't an easier stadium to reach in Germany than the BRITA Arena. Come out of the Hauptbahnhof onto Gustav Stresemann Ring (B54), turn right and after half-a-mile you'll find yourself at the ground.
FAN SHOP, MUSEUM & STADIUM TOURS
Union have club shops at a number of locations across Berlin. The main and most convenient one is at Union Zeughaus Bahnhofstraße (Bahnhofstrasse 23-25 12555 Berlin; 10am-8pm, Mon-Sat), just along the street from the Köpenik S-Bahn Station.
There are also stores at:
Union Zeughaus Ring-Center (Frankfurter Allee 111 10247 Berlin,10am-8pm, Mon-Sat).
Union Zeughaus Waldseite (at Stadion an der Alten Försterei, 11am-6pm, Mon-Fri; 11am-4pm, Sat)
Guided tours (adults/concessions/children under 6, €9/€7/Free) of the 'Old Forester's House' started again in October 2021. Further info about the tour, prices and booking can be found here. You can also give yourself motion sickness and 'go inside' the stadium through a 360° Virtual Tour here.
FOOD & DRINK OPTIONS
With the city centre just a short wurst throw away, satisfy your hunger pangs and thirst there before heading to the ground. Recommended watering holes here include Murphy's Pub, Scotch n Soda, Irish Pub Wiesbaden and Litfaßsäule.
The usual fast food options are available inside the BRITA Arena and everything can be paid for with cash or contactless methods (credit/debit cards, Apple Pay, Google Pay etc).
OTHER CLUBS IN THE AREA
BUNDESLIGA: 1.FSV Mainz 05, Eintracht Frankfurt, SV Darmstadt 98
BUNDESLIGA 2: 1.FC Kaiserslautern, Karlsruher SC, SV Elversberg
3.LIGA: 1. FC Saarbrücken, SV Sandhausen, SV Waldhof Mannheim