SV DARMSTADT 98
Founded: May 22, 1898
Club Members: 11,100
Nickname: Die Lilien
Coach: Torsten Lieberknecht
Captain: Fabian Holland
Bundesliga.2 Champions: 2
Regionalliga Südwest: 1
Landespokal Hessen Winner: 6
Tracing their roots back to 1898, SV Darmstadt were a fixture in the local levels of Hessen football for many years without emerging onto the national scene. This changed briefly in 1978 when they achieved promotion to the Bundesliga for the first time in their history. Relegation immediately followed but another lone season in the top flight in 1981-82 was the high point of the club’s history until the mid-2010s.
The club suffered financial setbacks and by the end of the 20th century they were plying their trade in the fourth tier of regional football. Bruno Labbadia, currently coach at Hertha BSC, secured promotion in 2004 but ongoing off field issues prevented the club building on this. Almost going out of the business in 2008, they only survived with numerous fund raising efforts, including a friendly against Bayern München.
At the turn of the decade they were still in non league football. After securing a place in the 3.Liga they should have been relegated back to the Regionalliga but ironically local rivals Kickers Offenbach were denied a financial license and Darmstadt were reprieved. The club then went on a tremendous run, securing back to back promotions and playing in the Bundesliga again in 2015-16. After two seasons in the top flight, somewhat inevitably they were relegated again (memorably going down after missing a penalty that would have secured a draw against Bayern München at the Allianz Arena) and settled down as a mid-table Bundesliga.2 outfit before a renaissance under new coach Torsten Lieberknecht saw them win promotion back to the Bundesliga in 2023.
Video used with the kind permission of Stadiums From The Sky
- Drone Footage of Stadiums All Over The World
Ground Name: Merck-Stadion am Böllenfalltor
Built: 1919 - 1921
Year Opened: 1921
Renovations: 1950 - 1952, 1975, 1978, 1981, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2018 - 2023
Capacity: 17,400 (10,700 standing)
Executive Boxes: 19
Business Seats: 900
Wheelchair Spaces: 57
Undersoil Heating: Yes
Running Track: No
Playing Surface: Natural Grass
Pitch Size: 105m x 68m
Stadion am Böllenfalltor (1921 - 2014)
Merck-Stadion am Böllenfalltor (2014 - 2016) *
Jonathan Heimes Stadion (2016 - 2017) * +
Merck-Stadion am Böllenfalltor (2017 - ) *
* Stadium Renamed
+ Jonathan Heimes Stadion am Böllenfalltor
Named after the surrounding forest of poplar trees (Böllen ) and its proximity to a city gate (Falltor ) that once protected Darmstadt, The Merck Stadion am Böllenfalltor (or just Bölle to the locals) opened in 1921 with a friendly between Darmstadt and German champions at the time Freiburger FC.
After World War 2, the ground was used as a baseball arena by the occupying American forces before Darmstadt were allowed to return to their home in 1950 and carry out a series of renovations that increased capacity to 25,000, three times the original figure.
In 1975, the old wooden grandstand was replaced by (what was until 2020) the current main stand and, as The Lillies continued their rise up the leagues, further renovations between 1978 and 1981 saw the capacity increase further to 30,000 and new floodlights were installed. However, the club have often fallen foul of stadium regulations and to comply with safety requirements in 2011, the capacity was reduced to 16,500. A series of smaller stadium renovations following the club's promotion to Bundesliga.2 however added almost 1,000 places taking the figure to today's capacity of 17,400.
Prior to its current redevelopment, the ground was a proper old-school stadium and before being demolished in 2020, the main stand had 4,000 seats with metal sheeting acting as wind breaks at either end. A number of small VIP buildings, looking both temporary and permanent in appearance, also backed onto it. Opposite, the 7,000 capacity Gegengerade terrace (dating back to the early 1950s) ran the full length of the pitch before it was replaced in 2020 with a modern 8,500 capacity two tier construction including room for 1,800 away fans. Although the stadium no longer features a running track, the oval shape that hints at its former multi-purpose use remains and at the south end of the stadium, the Jonathan Heimes Tribüne was built in 2016 over the old, curved terrace which you can still see today. The similar looking Nordtribüne stands at the opposite end of the ground and a set of floodlights standing sentry in each corner completes the look of the stadium.
There had been talk over recent years of Darmstadt moving into a new €35million ground, but all these plans have subsequently fallen through. Instead, the club will now focus on a complete renovation of the the Merck Stadion am Böllenfalltor which has already seen the construction of a new double tier stand to replace the open terraces of the Gegengerade. A new €40 million main stand opened during the 2022-23 season and put an end to issues regarding compliance with stadium regulations once and for all.
2022-2023: 15,685 (Bundesliga.2)
2021-2022: 9,414 (Bundesliga.2) *
2020-2021: N/A *
2019-2020: 10,948 (Bundesliga.2) *
2018-2019: 13,369 (Bundesliga.2)
* Season affected by COVID pandemic
Expected Ticket Availability
With the club now back in the Bundesliga, Darmstadt will attract good attendances but getting hold of a ticket should still be possible. The overall advice though would be to still buy in advance rather than relying on being able to rock up on matchday just to be safe.
The club website and online ticket shop are both in German only, but fortunately for non-German speakers, Google Chrome’s translation feature makes booking tickets a very straightforward process. A Print@Home option is offered, and actual match tickets can be bought by visiting the fan shop at the ground or at the box office in front of the stadium which opens two hours before kick-off.
Roughly speaking, for adults, tickets range from €36- €47 for seats, and you can stand on the terraces for €19. Seat prices go up by €10 for the Topspiel clashes with Bayern München, Borussia Dortmund and Eintracht Frrankfurt.
Information about visiting the Merck-Stadion am Böllenfalltor for fans with disabilities can be found at:
GETTING THERE & AWAY
Nieder-Ramstädter Straße 170,
If you're in your car, there are a number of different directions you can come so the simplest advice is to put the stadium address in your Sat-Nav and follow its guidance. There are no official car parks available for fans at the ground and Nieder-Ramstädter Straße is part-closed to traffic for 90 minutes after a match so don't be in a hurry to leave at full-time. The city of Darmstadt has been designated an 'Environmental Zone' since 2015 and it means only vehicles that comply with emission standards are allowed anywhere near (Further information here). Furthermore, diesel vehicles are banned on Heinrichstraße and Hügelstraße (Further information here).
Assuming therefore that you're not driving an ice cap melting 4X4, Darmstadt recommend motorists use the car parks at Parking Marienplatz (Hügelstraße 49, 8am-8pm, Mon-Sat; 5 hours for €1.50, max.€3, Free all other times) or Nordbad (Alsfelder Straße/Marburger Straße, Free) and then use public transport to reach the ground.
Match tickets include the cost of travel to and from the stadium on matchday anywhere within the Rhein-Main-Verkehrsverbund (RMV) transport area; and this includes travel from Wiesbaden, Mainz, Offenbach and right from the centre of Frankfurt. Note that transport within Darmstadt itself is operated by HEAG but it doesn't make any difference - you can still use your RMV endorsed match ticket.
From Darmstadt Hauptbahnhof, Tram 2 (Direction: Böllenfalltor) runs via Luisenplatz (recognisable by the 33-metre column commemorating Ludwig 1 at its heart) in the centre of town and takes 15 minutes to reach the 'Merck-Stadion' stop outside the ground. If you're coming from the centre of town, Tram 9 (Direction: Böllenfalltor) also runs through Luisenplatz before stopping at the Merck-Stadion. Before the direct tram service from the Hauptbahnhof was introduced in the last few years, fans would have to make their way from the station on Bus H (Direction: Darmstadt - Kranichstein - Kesselhutweg), getting off at Luisenplatz and jumping on Tram 9 to reach the ground. This is still an option today if utilising fully integrated transport networks are your thing.
The ground is a couple of miles from Luisenplatz in the centre of Darmstadt so it's easily walkable if you don't fancy squeezing onto a packed tram or shelling out for a taxi. From Luisenplatz, head eastwards onto Rheinstraße, through Ernst Ludwigs Platz and onto Marktplatz with the Residenzschloss (castle) on your left hand side. Carry on until you reach a big junction and then head straight onto Landgraf-Georg-Straße (B26). Follow it for quarter of a mile and then turn right onto Teichhausstraße (B449). Follow this road south for about a mile and a half and you'll see other fans heading to the ground before the Merck Stadion itself appears on your left.
FAN SHOP, MUSEUM & STADIUM TOURS
You'll find the main fan shop for all your Lilies fanartikels and match tickets at the stadium itself
(12pm-6pm, Wed-Fri; open on matchdays 90 minutes before kick-off and for an hour after the match has finished).
There are also branches at:
City Fanshop des SV 98 (Friedensplatz 4, 64283 Darmstadt; 10am-7pm, Mon-Sat)
Fanshop SV 98 LOOP 5 Shopping Centre (Gutenbergstraße 5, 64331 Weiterstadt; 10am-8pm, Mon-Sat)
Guided tours (minimum 5 persons) are conducted around the Bölle on non-match days by FUFA - a fan-run organisation whose enthusiastic volunteers will take you to the dressing rooms, mixed zone, pitch side and explain the continuing redevelopment of the stadium. More details, prices and booking information can be found here.
FOOD & DRINK OPTIONS
Many fans satisfy their hunger pangs and quench their thirst in the bars and restaurants of Darmstadt before making their way out to the ground. The usual fast food options (chips, bratwurst, etc) are sold around the stadium though and the official SV Darmstadt 98 restaurant and bar - Lillienschänke - is on Nieder-Ramstädter Straße just before you reach the gates at the south-east corner of the ground. You can pay for everything with cash.
OTHER CLUBS IN THE AREA
BUNDESLIGA: 1.FSV Mainz 05, Eintracht Frankfurt
BUNDESLIGA 2: Karlsruher SC, SV Elversberg, SV Wehen Wiesbaden
3.LIGA: 1. FC Saarbrücken, SV Sandhausen, SV Waldhof Mannheim