UPDATED FOR 2023-24 - AUGUST 2023
Founded: Apr 12, 1896
Club Members: 21,000
Nickname: Die Roten
Coach: Stefan Leitl
Captain: Ron Robert Zieler
German Champions / Bundesliga: 2
Bundesliga.2 Champions: 3
Landespokal Niedersachsen Winner: 2
Hailing from the state capital of Lower Saxony, Hannover 96 are one of the north's football heavyweights and were formed on 12th April 1896 as Hannoverscher Fußball Club 1896 after Ferdinand Wilhelm Fricke, founder of the city's oldest rugby club (Deutscher FV 1878 Hannover), suggested forming a football club as 'The English Disease' began gaining popularity in Germany. In 1913, the club then joined forces with Ballverein 1898 Hannovera (who themselves were a 1905 amalgam of Fußballverein Hannovera, 1898 Hannover, and Hannoverscher BV) to form Hannoverscher Sportverein von 1896 (HSV).
It didn't take long for the newcomers to find their feet and they quickly established themselves as one of the region's top clubs during the inter-war years, winning the Südkreisliga in 1921, 1927, 1928 and 1930 and making regular appearances in the German Championship; although Eintracht Braunschweig continued to hold the upper hand in the battle for Lower Saxony supremacy, adding to a rivalry that began between the quarrelsome House of Hannover and Duchy of Braunschweig towards the end of the 19th Century. In 1933, Hannover were entered into the top-flight Gauliga Niedersachsen, one of the 16 new first division leagues formed in the re-organisation of German football under the Third Reich, becoming champions four times and lifting their maiden national title in 1938 after a 4-3 victory in the final over strong favourites FC Schalke 04 in one of the biggest upsets in German football history.
After the upheaval of World War 2, during which HSV had moved to the Gauliga Braunschweig Südhannover, the allied forces dissolved all sports clubs as part of a post-war policy of de-Nazification in occupied Germany and after combining with local side Arminia Hannover to take on a British military team in September 1945, HSV officially reformed and emerged from the 'Stunde null ' (zero hour) to compete in the first-division Oberliga Nord.
Early in the 1948–49 season, the club won an appeal against their relegation the previous season on account of the fact that Holstein Kiel, who had narrowly survived at their expense, had fielded an illegal player. The club were awarded their place back in the top flight for the next season and as a result immediately ended their league campaign (after just three matches) and played out the remainder of the season with friendlies. The club's next appearance in the German national final came in 1954 when they became champions of Germany for a second time after dishing out a 5-1 thumping to a 1.FC Kaiserslautern side which provided five of the national team that beat Ferenc Puskas' 'Magnificent Magyars' in the World Cup final that summer - a match still referred to in Germany as "Das Wunder von Bern" (The Miracle of Bern).
In 1963, the German FA (DFB) were busy deciding which sixteen teams would form the inaugural Bundesliga which would bring all the regional Oberligen together under one nationwide professional league. Three clubs from the Oberliga Nord would be chosen and after Hamburger SV and SV Werder Bremen were given their entries, having satisfied all the qualifying criteria HSV officials were confident of securing the final berth. However, on 6th May 1963, the DFB announced that none other than Eintracht Braunschweig would be given the nod instead despite the fact that HSV had the bigger stadium, the higher average attendances, met all the financial prerequisites and ranked higher than Braunschweig in the DFB's twelve-year performance ranking. Hannover were incensed and on the grounds that the only criteria seemingly taken into account was Braunschweig's third-place finish in the recently completed 1962-63 season (HSV came ninth) launched an ultimately unsuccessful appeal against the decision to award their rivals a Bundesliga licence.
It wasn't long before HSV had the opportunity lock horns with their Lower Saxony foes again though as, fired by the perceived injustice, promotion from second-tier Regionalliga Nord was secured in 1964 and the club enjoyed an unbroken 10 year spell in the top-flight as an unspectacular mid-table performer. A decade in the Bundesliga comfort zone however meant that HSV were unable to cope with the pressures those towards the bottom of the table had learned to deal with and when performances eventually began to tail off, they finished the 1973-74 season rock bottom and dropped into Bundesliga.2 Nord. The Hanoverians quickly regrouped and by the time the 1975-76 season kicked-off, they were trading punches amongst Germany's elite again. Once again though, the stay was a brief one and dark clouds began gathering over the Neidersachsenstadion as relegation from the Bundesliga brought considerable financial pressure with players signed on top-flight wages becoming a burden to a club operating on a second-tier income.
Save for a couple of brief spells in the Bundesliga in the late 1980s, HSV spent the next couple of decades in the second tier but despite continuing money problems, the club's high-water mark was reached in 1992 when they sensationally beat Borussia Mönchengladbach on penalties to win their first DFB-Pokal. Hero of the day for Hannover was their goalkeeper Jörg 'Colt' Sievers who saved two penalties in the shoot-out as his side become the only club from outside the Bundesliga to lift the trophy.
Pride comes before a fall however and the club's first taste of European football the following season ended almost as soon as it began with defeat in the first-round of the European Cup Winners Cup to fellow Germans SV Werder Bremen, before going into a tailspin that saw them ignominiously mark their centenary year in 1996 with relegation to the third-tier amateur Regionalliga Nord. Things began to change in 1997 when high-tech hearing aid entrepreneur Martin Kind became club president and started using his considerable financial clout and strict management style to turn the club's fortunes around with the avowed aim to position '96' among the top six clubs in Germany. His spending brought immediate results with promotion to Bundesliga.2 in 1998, followed by a return to the Bundesliga for the first time since German reunification under Ralf Rangnick in 2002. After Rangnick's departure in 2004, a managerial quick revolving door 'policy' saw Ewald Lienen, Peter Neururer and Michael Schjønberg all hired and fired although Hannover were still able to establish themselves as a fixture in the top-flight with a number of respectable mid-table finishes. Mid-table finishes however were no longer enough for Kind who began arguing for a relaxation of the Bundesliga's stringent ownership rules with the view of bringing in additional investors to help finance his ambitions for the club.
With the appointment of Jörg Schmadtke as technical director and new signings Karim Haggui, Constant Djakpa and Valdet Rama, the 2009-10 season began with renewed optimism but when coach Dieter Hecking lost two of the first three matches, Kind's impatience got the better of him. Hecking was replaced with youth team coach Andreas Bergmann who steadied the ship with a few good results before tragedy struck when goalkeeper Robert Enke, who was expected to be part of Germany's World Cup squad in South Africa at the end of the season, committed suicide on 10th November 2009.
Fans gathered at the AWD Arena to lay flowers and light candles in memory of their captain and 40,000 filled the stadium for his memorial service. "Nach dem Spiel ist vor dem Spiel" ("After the game is before the game") was former national manager Sepp Herberger's famous quote which epitomised post-war Germany's determination to 'get on with it' and its reluctance to dwell on the past; but it quickly became apparent that Enke's teammates were unable to cope with the unprecedented situation and Bergmann, in his first managerial role at the highest level, was replaced by former Schalke 04 manager Mirko Slomka shortly after the winter break.
HSV gradually recovered from the tragic loss of Enke and quickfire Europa League campaigns in 2011-12 (which ended at the hands of eventual winners Atlético Madrid at the quarter-final stage) and 2012-13 suggested the club was heading in the right direction again. The feelgood factor ended abruptly in 2017 however following a despondent season that saw HSV return to Bundesliga.2 after finishing the season rock-bottom with only 25 points. Having managed to keep the core of the first-team together, there was optimism at the beginning of the 2016-17 campaign that the club could make a push for an immediate return to the Bundesliga. Although they made a bright start to the season, a drop-off in form saw coach Daniel Stendel replaced by Andre Breitenreiter and the new man got the side back on track as the 96ers won seven of the final 11 games to secure second place behind VfB Stuttgart and bounce back to the top flight at the first attempt. Hannover's two year stay in the top-flight however came to an end in 2019 and the HDI Arena currently plays host to Bundesliga.2 football.
Ground Name: Heinz von Heiden Arena
Architect: Schulitz & Partner Architekten (2003)
Built: 1952 - 1954
Year Opened: 1954
Renovations: 1997 - 1998, 2003 - 2004
Capacity: 49,000 (8,000 standing)
Executive Boxes: 29
Business Seats: 1,241
Media Seats: 96
Wheelchair Spaces: 106
Construction Costs: €66m
Undersoil Heating: Yes
Running Track: No
Floodlights: 1,500 lux
Playing Surface: Natural Grass
Pitch Size: 105m x 68m
Stadion Radrennbahn (unknown - 1921)
Eilenriededestadion (1921 - 1934)
Hindenburg Kampfbahn (1934 - 1945) *
Stadion der Stadt Hannover (1945) *
Eilenriededestadion (1945 - 1964) *
Niedersachsenstadion (1964 - 2002)
AWD Arena (2002 - 2013) *
HDI Arena (2013 - 2022) *
Heinz von Heiden Arena (2022 - ) *
* Stadium Renamed
Still referred to by its original name Niedersachsenstadion (Lower Saxony Stadium) by many of 96's support, the stadium rose from the ashes of World War 2 as architects Heinz Goesmann and Richard Konwiarz built the stadium from the rubble of Hannover's ruins. It opened in September 1954 with a friendly between West Germany and France with a capacity of 86,656 and was also used for a number of different events. Hannover 96 began playing their biggest home matches here from 1958 before making the move from their aging Eilenriedestadion permanent in 1964.
The Niedersachsenstadion underwent major renovation ahead of the 1974 World Cup which saw capacity pushed to 60,400 and further improvements were carried out before the 1988 Euros were held in Germany.
Plans for a new 40,000 arena had been kicked about for much of the 1990s and early 2000s, but like many a good idea it was scrapped because of a lack of money. The surprise decision to award Germany the 2006 World Cup however breathed life back into the stadium, and the AWD Arena (as it was then known as) was pretty much torn down and rebuilt in a €66 million overhaul that was completed in 2005.
Today, the Heinz von Heiden Arena stands as a modern, football-only venue with a double tier sweeping continuously around the arena. There's a wide open concourse behind the lower tier and a bank of executive boxes run along the main stand. Gone are the floodlight pylons standing sentry in each corner of the ground, replaced instead with floodlight racks attached to the steel framework that supports the canopy membrane roof. There are also a couple of jumbo video screens suspended from the roof structure at either end of the ground.
Hannover's home end is the Nordkürve (Blocks N1-8 and N10-19) and away supporters are welcome in the southwest corner where they have a choice between standing a on a lower terrace (Blocks S6-9) or seating in the upper tier (Blocks S15-19).
In addition to being home to 96, the stadium also played host to near neighbours TSV Havelse for the 2021-22 3.Liga season after their Wilhelm Langrehr Stadion fell well short of the required stadium standards.
2022-2023: 30,953 (Bundesliga.2)
2021-2022: 13,303 (Bundesliga.2) *
2020-2021: N/A *
2019-2020: 21,165 (Bundesliga.2) *
2018-2019: 38,365 (Bundesliga)
* Season affected by COVID pandemic
Expected Ticket Availability
With a capacity of 49,000 and Hannover 96 currently in Bundesliga.2 with no prospect of promotion on the horizon, very few games will sell out at the HDI Arena - save for potential plum ties in the DFB-Pokal against Bayern, Dortmund or the old enemy Eintracht Braunschweig.
Tickets for most matches therefore will be available through the online shop (no English Language option we're afraid), at the fan shops or over the phone (0.20 €/call, mobile phone prices max. 0.60 €/call) if you want to practice your German.
Hannover won't post match tickets overseas, but part of the buying process allows you to select the option 'Pick up Foreign Order' ('Abholung Auslandsbestellung') to pick it up from the Kassenanlage Nord ticket office from two hours before kick-off (and up to 30 minutes after) on production of your invoice number and photo ID. For those who don't like queuing on a match day any more than absolutely necessary then you can choose a Print@Home or Mobile Ticket option and head straight for the security pat-down.
Adult ticket prices range from €25 - €42 for seats, and you can stand on the terraces from €14. Family tickets are also available in the Südtribune (Blocks S1-5 and S10-14) for €31 (1 adult, 1 child aged 6-14 years). Free 'Lap Tickets' are also available for fans aged 5 and under, although these don't entitle the child to a seat of their own however and, as the name suggests, they must sit on their parent's lap throughout the game.
Information about visiting the Heinz von Heiden Arena for fans with disabilities can be found at:
GETTING THERE & AWAY
Robert Enke Strasse 3
If you decide to drive, it's worth noting that the stadium is located in an 'Environmental Zone' which means only vehicles that comply with emission standards are allowed anywhere near. Assuming therefore that you're not driving an ice cap melting 4X4, then the address of the HDI Arena is Robert Enke Strasse 3, 30169 Hannover. You should note however that some streets are closed off around the stadium from about three hours before a match until an hour afterwards so arrive early and don't be looking to get away quickly at full time either. At the ground itself, there are plenty of car parks nearby with the biggest one being at Schützenplatz (3,000 spaces, €5) on the other side of Robert Enke Straße.
Match tickets can be used to travel to and from the HDI Arena anywhere on the Großraum-Verkehr Hannover (GVH) transport network from three hours before the match until everything stops running and you have a few different options to choose from.
The transit system in Hannover features buses and trams/U-Bahn lines (so called Stadt-Bahn or City Rail because some are trams on lines that run underground). From the Hauptbahnhof or Kröpke stations in the city centre, if you have a ticket for the North or East entrances jump on trams 3, 7 (both Direction: Wettbergen) or 9 (Direction: Empelde) and get off at Waterloo. If you're heading for the south, west or you're with the away fans, take lines 3, 7, 17 (Direction: Wallensteinstraße) to the Stadionbrücke stop. The Waterloo and Stadionbrücke stops are both a 5-10 minute stroll to the ground.
From the Haptbahnhof, S-Bahn lines S1 (Direction: both Haste) and S5 (Direction: Paderborn) take 10 minutes to reach the Hannover-Linden/Fischerhof stop which is a15 minute walk or so to the Arena.
Alternatively, you can take buses 100 or 200 which leave every 10-15 minutes from the city centre. Jump onboard at Theaterstraße or Kröpke, get off at Machsee/Sprengel Museum and follow the stream of fans heading down Arthur Menge Ufer to the ground.
Unlike many German stadia which more often than not appear on the outskirts of town next to a trade centre or industrial zone, the Heinz von Heiden Arena is a very easy 20 minute walk south of the city centre through parkland.
FAN SHOP, MUSEUM & STADIUM TOURS
Hannover 96 Fan Shop an der HDI Arena
(Robert Enke-Straße 1 30169 Hannover; 10am-6pm, Mon-Fri; 10am-3pm, Sat. Opening times may vary on match days and public holidays).
There are also three mobile fan shops around the stadium (North, South and West) on a matchday which open a couple of hours before kick-off and for 30 minutes after the final whistle.
Guided 90 minute tours of the Heinz von Heiden Arena are available (adults/concessions/children aged 6-14 years, €8/€6/€5) on selected dates. Further information, availability and how to book can be found here. You can also get an idea of what the tour will be like by viewing the 360° Virtual Tour of the Heinz von Heiden Arena here.
FOOD & DRINK OPTIONS
As you walk along Artur Menge Ufer Straße towards the stadium, you'll pass Julian’s Restaurant beneath the Courtyard by Marriott Hotel which is a good place for a pre-match bratwurst and beer overlooking the Machsee - an artificial lake built during one of the first Nazi led public-work projects.
Outside the Arena, the usual mobile kiosks open up on matchday selling fast food and local beer; and the same options are available inside the ground. The 'HDI Arena Card' which you used to have to load up with a balance of at least €20 to buy anything in the stadium has been replaced and you can now pay for your stadium sausage with contactless payment using your debit or credit card, smartphones via Apple Pay, Google Pay etc. Not that you'll need it then, but there's an ATM at the fan shop.
If you're looking for a drinking den, head to the Nordkürve bar right next to the stadium for a pint of Gilde. Bedecked in Hannover shirts and other memorabilia, it does get crowded but once served you can join fans at one of their matchday 'Win or Lose, Have a Booze' get-togethers.
Hannover has an unmerited reputation in Germany as being a rather boring place and this prejudice extends to its police force who admittedly don't help themselves by appearing to do what they can to spoil the good mood building inside the ground. Not only do they confiscate alcohol at the turnstiles but, according to the club website, they also breathalyse fans they suspect of having had a few too many
Gildes. Fail the test - 1.6 milligrams of alcohol per millilitre of blood (or 'six small beers' in old money) - and you could find yourself being turned away from the arena. We doubt this ironhanded policy is too rigorously enforced but the rules are very much the same as anywhere else - just behave yourself and you'll be absolutely fine.
OTHER CLUBS IN THE AREA
BUNDESLIGA: SV Werder Bremen, VfL Wolfsburg
BUNDESLIGA 2: 1.FC Magdeburg, Eintracht Braunschweig, FC St. Pauli, Hamburger SV, Holstein Kiel, VfL Osnabrück
3.LIGA: DSC Arminia Bielefeld, Preußen Münster, VfB Lübeck