Founded: Jul 8, 1954
Club Members: 1,175
Nickname: WSV, Die Löwen
Coach: Hüzeyfe Dogan
Captain: Sebastian Patzler
Regionalliga West: 1
Oberliga Nordrhein: 4
Oberliga Niederrhein: 1
Western German Cup: 2
Landespokal Niederrhein Winner: 7
The German philosopher, industrialist and social revolutionary - Friedrich Engels - once said that he was happy to “… play second fiddle to so splendid a first violin ”. Wuppertal’s most famous son wasn’t a football fan, but the self-sacrificial affection he felt for Karl Marx can also describe the losing battle his hometown club has had with the likes of Dortmund, Schalke, Gladbach, Köln and Düsseldorf for Rhineland hearts and minds.
One reason for this is that football in Wuppertal has historically followed regional lines which isn't all that surprising given that the city itself was only founded in 1929 when the industrial centres of Barmen and Elberfeld were merged with the districts of Vohwinkel, Ronsdorf, Cronenberg, Langerfeld and Beyenburg. Each area had its own football club and two of them - TSG Vohwinkel 80 and SSV Elberfeld - had played (admittedly without distinction) in the top-flight Gauliga Niederrhein after German football was divided into 16 regional divisions following the Nazi rise to power in 1933. As Hitler's megalomania turned the war against Germany however; player shortages, travel problems and damage to grounds from Allied bombing raids meant that fulfilling fixtures became increasingly difficult and many clubs folded. As football in Germany struggled to get its breath back after the conflict, in order to ensure survival, mergers were completed between clubs over the next few years including the one in 1954 that saw TSG and SSV agree to join forces and form Wuppertaler SV.
The union paid almost immediate dividends as the combined side coached by Fritz Szepan, the one-time star of the FC Schalke 04 side that dominated German football during the 1930s and 1940s, captured the second-tier 2.Oberliga West title in 1955. Progress stalled over the next few seasons however and despite being able to call on the talents of rising star Horst Szymaniak and Austrian international Erich Probst, WSV were relegated from the Oberliga West in 1958. They were back in the top-flight for another go in 1962 and although they had a disappointing league campaign, they showed some decent cup pedigree that year by making it to the DFB-Pokal semi-final where they lost 0-1 to eventual winners Hamburger SV.
Having missed the cut when the German FA were deciding which sixteen clubs should form the new Bundesliga in 1963, Die Löwen settled down to life in the second-tier Regionalliga West and after building up a head of steam, their high-water mark was achieved in 1972 when the goals of legendary striker Günter Pröpper fired them into the Bundesliga. Although they were never likely to have their name etched into the sterling silver of the Meisterschale, they finished their debut campaign in a very creditable 4th position (a feat bettered by only two other newly-promoted Bundesliga clubs) and secured a place in the UEFA Cup the following year.
Pride comes before a fall however and Wuppertal's first and, so far, only, European adventure ended at the first hurdle when they lost out 6-8 on aggregate to Polish outfit Ruch Chorzów. Domestic form was similarly disappointing and only an 82nd minute goal in their final match at VfB Stuttgart saved them from relegation in 1974. After three seasons rubbing shoulders with German football's elite however, Wuppertal's time in the Bundesliga came to a crashing end as they were thoroughly outclassed during the 1974-75 season and finished rock-bottom with just 12 points - only four more than the paltry total that defined SV Tasmania Berlin as the 'Bundesliga's worst ever' in 1966. The only bright spot in this despondent campaign was a 3-1 victory over then-European Champions Bayern München who were built around the talents of Franz Beckenbauer, Sepp Maier and Gerd Muller.
After dropping into Bundesliga.2, Wuppertaler joined the ranks of Germany's 'elevator clubs' - with promotions and relegations seeing them play in three different divisions before coming to rest in the Regionalliga West/Südwest by 1994. By 1998 however, dark clouds were gathering over the Stadion am Zoo as overextension and mismanagement brought them to the brink of bankruptcy. After being walked back from the cliff edge and a spell in the fourth-tier Oberliga Nordrhein, the club regained some of their football composure and returned to the Regionalliga Nord as champions in 2003.
In 2004, they were joined by players from a local club called SV Borussia Wuppertal and became known as Wuppertaler SV Borussia. Before the merger, Borussia had been a competitive side in local football circles but, lacking the financial might to support their ambition, joined forces with WSV in the hope that together they could return the city to some form of football prominence. The merger didn't go down too well with the WSV support however who rejected the name 'Borussia' and constantly voiced their opposition to long-term club president Friedhelm Runge before a fan campaign called 'WSV 2.0' forced him to step down in 2013. A new board was quickly appointed and one of its first acts was to drop the suffix 'Borussia' and return the club's name to Wuppertaler SV.
Wuppertaler's problems weren't behind them though as debts of €1.4 million were threatening to swallow them up again and the club had their Regionalliga playing licence revoked by the German FA (DFB) at the end of the 2012-13 season. A financial restructuring plan was put in place by the fan-led club and after lifting the Oberliga Niederrhein title in 2016, the Stadion am Zoo now hosts Regionalliga West football again as Wuppertaler SV look to write the next chapter of their eventful history.
Video used with the kind permission of Stadiums From The Sky
- Drone Footage of Stadiums All Over The World
Ground Name: Stadion am Zoo
Architect: Willkens & Nußbaum
Year Opened: 1924
Renovations: 1974, 1991-1993, 2005-2008
Capacity: 23,067 (18,067 standing)
Record Attendance: 38,000 (1974)
Construction Costs: RM 1.5m
Undersoil Heating: No
Running Track: No
Playing Surface: Natural Grass
Pitch Size: 110m x 72m
Stadion am Zoo (1954 - )
Home to the club since their formation, the Stadion am Zoo is one of Germany's most picturesque grounds and can be found tucked away in a natural amphitheatre of hillsides and woodland on the banks of the Wupper river.
Built in only six months and opened on 5th October 1924 as the Bergisches Stadion, it was one of the largest, most modern grounds in the country with only the Deutsches Stadion in Berlin considered to be on par with it at the time. The Lord Mayor of Cologne and future German Chancellor, Konrad Adenauer, was quoted at the opening ceremony as saying, "This stadium has only one flaw – it's not in Cologne! ".
Its multi-functional design meant that it could host both football and athletics events but cycling races were the big draw here and several world records were set on the concrete velodrome that swept around the oval-shaped bowl between the grandstands and cinder running track. 500 metres long, 12 metres wide and with its steep banks reaching a height of 8 metres, the circuit was regarded as the fastest in the world and hosted the UCI Track World Championships in 1927. In addition to cycling, the stadium was also the venue for a number of NSDAP rallies at which Adolf Hitler and Joseph Goebbels addressed crowds of up to 50,000 during the run-up to the Reichstag elections of July 1932.
A fire destroyed the main grandstand later that year but the stadium escaped damage during World War 2 and as sport and dictatorship began to untangle themselves after the conflict, 50,000 fans saw 1.FC Kaiserslautern take on TuS Neuendorf (today's TuS Koblenz) at the ‘Zoo’ in the semi-finals of the German Championship in 1948. Wuppertaler SV had also taken up residence following their formation in 1954 but cycling continued to attract the most interest with large crowds watching the UCI Track World Championships which were held here again that year. Local cyclist Walter Lohmann set a new speed record of 96km/hr on 24th October 1955 and floodlights were installed at the stadium for the first time in 1957 before the wheels came off German cycling a year later after a race-fixing scandal led to interest in the sport falling away.
Cycling fans were soon replaced by football crowds however and the Stadion am Zoo was packed to the rafters when Wuppertal took on northern heavyweights and eventual winners Hamburger SV in the DFB-Pokal semi-final in August 1963. After securing promotion to the top-flight in 1972, in order to get the stadium ready for Bundesliga football, the old cycling track was partially removed to allow for additional spectator seating on the Gegengerade. Home crowds averaged 35,000 as the likes of Borussia Mönchengladbach, Schalke 04 and VfB Stuttgart were welcomed to the 'Zoo' and the official attendance record of 38,000 was set in 1974 when European Champions Bayern München came to town - with some estimates putting the actual number who saw the match closer to 50,000 after wooden benches were hurriedly added to the athletics track around the pitch. Following relegation in 1975 however and Wuppertal's eventual tumble down the leagues, the stadium fell into disrepair and was only saved from demolition when it became a listed building in 1983.
In 1991, the decision was made to give the stadium a new lease of life although its protected status meant that the subsequent renovation work was both complex and expensive as designers married future ambition with history by building a new ground within the bowls of its predecessor.
The bulk of the DM 31million budget was spent on a new 5,000-seater main stand (the old one had been closed in 1988 over safety concerns) and preserving the stadium's historic 'Shield Wall' façade. Opened in 1993, the result is an impressive looking, all-seater, double-tier affair with a sweeping glass and steel roof that follows the ground's original oval outline. The changing rooms, players tunnel, media and VIP facilities are all found here along with a viewing area for disabled fans. However, even though it's the only covered section of the ground, its 'open' design offered no protection from the wind and rain that blew through the concourse on our visit – not ideal in one of the wettest cities in Germany.
In 2005 work began to completely remove the cinder running track and cycling velodrome; and build new stands behind each goal closer to the pitch. The Nordtribüne offers concrete terraces open to the elements for 4,800 home fans and at the opposite end of the ground, the identical Südtribüne is given over to visiting clubs to create a considerably sized Gäste Block. Both terraces cost around €1m to build although financial problems meant that construction was continuously delayed, and it took the (supervised) efforts of unemployed Wuppertal fans to finally complete them in mid-2008. The existing main stand was then 'moved' closer to the action by adding four metres to the width of the pitch. The stadium’s legacy as a former dump for Wuppertal’s paint industry and the costs involved with cleaning up the contaminated land however meant that plans to install undersoil heating were shelved.
Conversion of the stadium into a pure football venue was completed when 1,500 seats were installed at the front of the otherwise fully terraced Horst-Szymaniak Tribüne (the old Gegengerade) in irregular rows - a legacy of Wuppertal's time in the Bundesliga during the 1970s when extra seating was bolted onto the cycling track to cope with increasing demand. The team dugouts are located on this side of the stadium and as a result there's quite a procession of players and staff across the pitch at half and full-time.
Although the stadium no longer features a running or cycle track, the oval shape that hints at its former multi-purpose design can still be seen with the grassed banking in each corner. Behind the Nordtribüne, a grand Wilhelminian-period villa which used to serve as the stadium restaurant and administrative offices looks out over a forecourt behind the turnstiles, and four towering floodlights complete the look of this unique stadium.
Telephone: +49 (0) 0202 9746210
2021-2022: 1,551 (Regionalliga West) *
2020-2021: N/A *
2019-2020: 2,147 (Regionalliga West) *
2018-2019: 2,341 (Regionalliga West)
2017-2018: 2,659 (Regionalliga West)
* Season affected by COVID pandemic
Expected Ticket Availability
There's no need for a mad scramble. With the likes of Köln, Leverkusen, Düsseldorf, Gladbach, Dortmund and Schalke on the doorstep, it takes strong local allegiance to follow Wuppertal in the Regionalliga. Added to the fact that average attendances are a fraction of the stadium's total capacity, there's no surprise to find the gap between ticket supply and demand is a healthy one - even for the visit of public enemy No.1 Rot Weiß Essen.
Plenty of tickets will be available therefore through the online shop (no English language option unfortunately – this is the Regionalliga, not the Bundesliga!) or by calling in at the official WSV fan store on the ground floor of the Rathaus-Galerie shopping centre in Wuppertal. There are also a number of other Vorverkaufsstellen (advance sales outlets) in the region and the club provide a list of them here.
For those of you who don't feel the anxious need to get your ticket organised weeks in advance, you can keep it traditional and present yourself at the ticket windows on Hubertusallee which open about 90 minutes before kick-off.
As is the norm in the Regionalliga, there's no ABC-tiered approach to ticket pricing and so the same flat-rate applies to all matches regardless of the quality of opposition facing Wuppertal. Ticket prices to sit in the Haupttribüne are €21 for adults, €17 for seniors and concessions; and children (aged 7-14) can get in for €10. It's €11 for adults to join the Red-Blue Fanatics on the terraces with seniors and concessions paying €8 and children (aged 7-14) just €5. Free 'Lap Tickets' are also available for fans aged 6 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.
There's a €2 surcharge if you buy your ticket on a matchday.
PLEASE NOTE: All information in this section is subject to change due to COVID regulations. Please refer to the club website for the latest ticket information.
GETTING THERE & AWAY
Coming from Düsseldorf, take the A46 in the direction of Dortmund to the Sonnborner Kreuz junction (31). Here you keep right and leave the motorway via the Sonnborn exit. At the traffic lights, turn left towards the 'Zoo/Stadion' and follow Sonnborner Ufer (B228) for about half a mile. The Stadion am Zoo is then on the right.
From Oberhausen/Duisburg, head along the A3 in the direction of Cologne to the Kreuz Hilden junction (19) before taking the A46 toward Wuppertal. Come off at the Sonnborner Kreuz junction (31) and then follow the directions above.
Travelling along the B326 from Schwelm/Ennepetal, take the A46 in the direction of Düsseldorf. At the Sonnborner Kreuz junction (31), leave the motorway at the Sonnborn exit. At the traffic lights, turn left towards the 'Zoo/Stadion' and follow Sonnborner Ufer (B228) for about half a mile. The Stadion am Zoo is then on the right.
Coming from the direction of Remscheid/Solingen, take the L74 in the direction of Wuppertal and leave the motorway at the Sonnborner Kreuz junction (31) via the Sonnborn exit. At the traffic lights, turn left towards the 'Zoo/Stadion' and follow Sonnborner Ufer (B228) for about half a mile. The Stadion am Zoo is then on the right.
Unless you're a 'VIP' or Permit Holder, there's no parking available at the ground itself so the club recommend parking at the Zoo/Stadion car park just across from the ground where there are 178 free spaces. To find it, tap 'Boettingerweg 3, 42117 Wuppertal ' into your Sat-Nav.
Free matchday parking can also be found nearby at:
Technische Akademie (56 spaces - Kaiser-Wilhelm-Allee 6,42117 Wuppertal)
P+R Zoo / Stadion (77 spaces - Siegfriedstraße 58, 42117 Wuppertal)
Sonnborner Straße 78 (29 spaces - Sonnborner Straße 78, 42327 Wuppertal)
Kornstraße (140 spaces - Kornstraße 6, 42327 Wuppertal)
P+R Sonnborner Ufer (55 spaces - Sonnborner Ufer, 42327 Wuppertal)
P+R Sonnborn (24 spaces - Creceliusstraße 65, 42327 Wuppertal)
If you do decide to drive, it's worth noting that Wuppertal is located in an 'Environmental Zone' (Umweltzone) which means only vehicles that comply with emission standards (Euro 4 - diesel / Euro 1 - petrol) are allowed anywhere near or you'll risk a €40-100 fine. More information about Umweltzonen in Germany can be found here.
For the full 'Wuppertal Experience', join train buffs and engineering enthusiasts aboard the famous Schwebebahn (floating railway). Opened in 1901 and hanging from a steel frame like something from a Steampunk comic, it's the oldest suspended monorail in the world which local poet Else Lasker-Schüler eloquently described travelling on as '... an airy flight on the back of a steely dragon '. The Stadion am Zoo has its own station and the journey from central Wuppertal (Direction: Vohwinkel) takes about 15 minutes.
From Düsseldorf/Cologne, S-Bahn line S8 (Direction: Hagen Hbf) takes about 25 minutes to reach Wuppertal-Zoologisher Garten from where it's a 5 minute walk to the stadium. If you're coming straight from Wuppertal Hauptbahnhof, you can also reach the Wuppertal-Zoologisher Garten station on both the S8 (Direction: Monchengladbach) and S9 (Direction: Vohwinkel) S-Bahn lines.
With a valid match ticket, you can ride around free of charge on matchdays within the Verkehrsverbund Rhein-Ruhr (VRR) travel network until close of business that day and this includes travel on the Schwebebahn.
You can reach the 'Zoo' on foot but it's a bit of a hike and will take you about an hour to cover the three miles or so from central Wuppertal. Google Maps can plan the route for you if you're feeling energetic but otherwise enjoy some pre-match pub grub and beer in the city centre before heading to the ground on public transport.
FAN SHOP, MUSEUM & STADIUM TOURS
Fanshop Rathaus Galerie (Ground floor, Rathaus Galerie Shopping Centre, Willy-Brand-Platz , 42105 Wuppertal; Tel: 0202 384 299 78)
FOOD & DRINK OPTIONS
The city centre is your best bet when it comes to pub grub and beer, although some of WSV's fans stay on the Schwebebahn an extra stop and head to the hotel bars and restaurants along Sonnborner Straße just across the river from the stadium. Some of the recommended places along here include Alt Sonnborn, Hotel Schwaferts, Cafe Loyal and Nico's Pizza. Right next to the ground on Boettingerweg, Restaurant Da Vinci, you've probably guessed, is an Italian restaurant serving pizzas, pasta and fish.
Inside the Stadion am Zoo itself, kiosks at the back of each stand serve up the usual German fan favourites and with WSV's working class roots planted firmly in Westphalia soil, you can pay for your beer and bratwurst pairing with cash instead of using plastic money on pre-paid stadium cards.
OTHER CLUBS IN THE AREA
BUNDESLIGA: 1.FC Köln, Bayer 04 Leverkusen, Borussia Dortmund, Borussia Mönchengladbach, FC Schalke 04, VfL Bochum
BUNDESLIGA 2: DSC Arminia Bielefeld, Fortuna Düsseldorf, SC Paderborn 07
3.LIGA: Borussia Dortmund II, FC Viktoria Köln, MSV Duisburg, Rot Weiss Essen, SC Verl