Founded: Jun 2, 1900
Club Members: 21,000
Nickname: Die Roten Teufel
Coach: Dirk Schuster
Captain: Jean Zimmer
German Champions / Bundesliga: 4
German Super Cup Winner: 1
Bundesliga.2 Champions: 2
Landespokal Südwest Winner: 2
One of Germany's most legendary clubs, 1.FC Kaiserslautern emerged in its current form in 1933 after a series of mergers brought together various other clubs in the area and their pre-war record was largely unremarkable, much of it spent bouncing between leagues after the re-organisation of German football under the Third Reich. Following the war however legendary player Fritz Walter returned to the club from a POW camp in Romania and, along with his brother Ottmar, formed part of the Kaiserslautern team that rallied around the red flag and dominated German football for the next decade. German champions in 1951 and 1953, along with runner-up finishes on three other occasions, the team also formed the backbone of the national team that won the 1954 World Cup Final against Ferenc Puskas' all-conquering Hungarians - still referred to this day in Germany as "Das Wunder von Bern" (The Miracle of Bern).
Although FCK's performances had begun to tail off, they were still invited to form part of the new Bundesliga in 1963 although the wait for honours would continue with losing DFB-Pokal final appearances in 1972, 1976 and 1981 being the closest they got to further domestic success.
On the European front, they made it to the UEFA Cup semi-final in 1982 before finally achieving success in 1990 with a 3-2 DFB-Pokal Cup win over Werder Bremen. They followed this up the following season by capturing their first Bundesliga title and lifted the DFB-Pokal again in 1996 - although this was soured as the club were relegated from the Bundesliga for the first time that same season. 'Die Roten Teufel' (The Red Devils) however stormed back with a unique achievement under the stewardship of maverick coach Otto Rehhagel, winning promotion from Bundesliga 2 at the first attempt and then steamrollering the opposition and taking the Bundesliga title in 1998.
Dark clouds were beginning to gather however and shortly after coming close to making a UEFA Cup Final appearance in 2001, overextension and mismanagement had brought FCK to the brink of bankruptcy. The existing club management were forced out and the Fritz Walter Stadion was sold to the city authorities to save the club from financial disaster. Bringing the World Cup to Kaiserslautern in 2006 brought further financial pressures as the city council increased the club's rent following the expansion of the Fritz Walter Stadion ahead of the tournament. This was easily affordable ... as long as FCK remained in the Bundesliga. However, the club were relegated in 2006 and four years in Bundesliga.2 followed with the club needing top-flight football to be able to pay their rent ... but at the same time needing to invest in the playing squad to get there. The catch-22 situation eventually caught up with the club and by 2016 FCK couldn't afford to put together a squad capable of winning promotion and the inevitable drop to the 3.Liga came in 2018.
For much of the 2021-22 campaign there was optimism that the club could make a push for promotion back to Bundesliga.2. However, a late season collapse saw Marco Antwerpen replaced by ex-Augsburg and Erzgebirge Aue coach Dirk Schuster who guided them over the finish line - clinching promotion with a 2-0 play-off victory over SG Dynamo Dresden.
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Ground Name: Fritz Walter Stadion
Year Opened: 1920
Renovations: 2002 - 2003
Capacity: 49,850 (16,685 standing)
Executive Boxes: 11
Construction Costs: €77.8m
Undersoil Heating: Yes
Running Track: No
Floodlights: 1,500 lux
Playing Surface: Natural Grass
Pitch Size: 105m x 68m
Betzenbergstadion (1920 - 1985)
Fritz Walter Stadion (1985 - ) *
* Stadium Renamed
A real classic of German football, The Fritz Walter Stadion (also known as 'The Betzenberg' or 'The Betze') was for a long time one of the most feared away grounds in the Bundesliga - not just for the famous Hölle Betzenberg roar from the partisan home crowd but also for the breathless hike up to the stadium.
Named after club legend Fritz Walter who captained West Germany to the 'Miracle Of Bern' World Cup triumph in 1954, the original stadium opened in 1920 and at the time was no more than a sandy pitch ringed by some terracing and a small wooden stand. In 1930, the stand was destroyed in a storm and this was the prelude for a large redevelopment which resulted in a new main stand and concrete terracing. Over the following decades the club gradually kept expanding and modernising the stadium with new North and South stands being added in 1963 and 1973 respectively. The East and West stands both saw work carried out during the 1970s and 1980s before the North Stand was replaced again in 1994. A new South stand opened in 1998 but despite all the previous work, another €77million was then spent on a media centre, new floodlight system and pushing the capacity up to 49,850 ahead of the 2006 World Cup. During the tournament, the Betze hosted five matches including the Italy v Australia round-of-16 tie.
Today 'Fortress Betzenberg' (as it was once dubbed) is as impressive outside as it is from the inside - a huge concrete cube overlooking the city below. The double-tiered North Stand (Main Stand) has '1.FCK' and 'Fritz Walter Stadion' spelt out in white amongst the otherwise red seating and a row of executive boxes runs across the back of the lower tier. This stand isn't connected to the rest of the ground as at either end it is book-ended with a block of executive boxes in each corner. Opposite this stand is the huge single-tier South Stand and the words 'Betzenberg' and '1.FCK' are spelt out in the seating. Behind the goals and connected to the South Stand at each end are the single-tier East and West Stands.
Kaiserslautern's loudest support gather on the lower tier terrace of the West Stand and visitors are allocated an area of the East Stand towards the North Stand.
2021-2022: 16,356 (3.Liga) *
2020-2021: N/A *
2019-2020: 13,184 (3.Liga) *
2018-2019: 21,192 (3.Liga)
2017-2018: 22,621 (Bundesliga.2)
* Season affected by COVID pandemic
Expected Ticket Availability
FCK have done their best to generate some interest amongst K-Town's American ex-pat community and have thoughtfully given the online ticket shop they run with Ticketmaster an English language version. Tickets bought through the online shop are delivered as MobileTicket or Print@Home flavours.
Tickets can also be bought at the fan shops either at the ground or at the branch in the 'K in Lautern' shopping centre. With a large American community in the area, the people of Rhineland-Palatinate can speak a little English so you should also be able to secure a ticket by ringing the ticket hotline on +49 (0) 631 31880 and pressing option 1.
Tickets can also be bought on matchday from the ticket offices around the ground which will open three hours before kick-off.
The Red Devils very rarely sell out and even though they're now back in Bundesliga.2, the 50,000 capacity 'Betze' well generally be less than half-full. In fact, large areas of the ground are normally shut for all but the biggest games. The only match that you might have an issue getting hold of a ticket for is a visit from arch-enemy SV Waldorf Mannheim. Ticket purchases are strictly controlled for this one and given the mutual dislike between both sets of fans, it's probably best that 'tourists' stay away.
Adult ticket prices range from €18 - €40 for seats, and it's €15 to join the 'Red Front' hoolies on the terraces.
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
Before you decide to drive to watch a match at Kaiserslautern, it's worth noting that you're going to struggle to find any parking near the ground. There are no public car parks and you'll need a resident's permit to park in the surrounding streets which are closed down anyway on a matchday. So, the best thing to do is park up elsewhere and come the final leg to the ground on public transport.
The club recommend that you make use of the Park & Ride scheme in operation in Kaiserslautern and they list the 'P+R' car parks below on their site. Free (if you have a match ticket) shuttle buses will then run you up to the Betzenberg every 5-10 minutes starting a couple of hours before kick-off: The return service runs until 90 minutes after full-time.
P+R Place KL-Ost-Schweinsdell (Ludwigshafener Straße, 67657 Kaiserslautern)
P+R Universität (Gottlieb-Daimler Straße 15, 67669 Kaiserslautern) *
P+R KL-West/Einsiedlerhof (Carl-Billand Straße 12, 67661 Kaiserslautern) +
* Since the 2021/22 season, the main entry point has been located at the sports hall of the TU Kaiserslautern (Paul-Ehrlich-Straße 28, 67669 Kaiserslautern)
+ Dependent on demand
With a match ticket you can ride around in second-class on the buses and trains within the Rhein-Neckar (VRN) transport network on the day of a match until 3am the following morning. Both the Print@Home and MobileTickets include a VRN combined ticket for public transport in the price, which must be activated under vrn.ticketmastertools.com/kombiticket/personalize The exact procedure is described in detail in the ordering process.
The ground is only a 5-10 minute walk from the main station so hanging around for a bus isn't really necessary. Nevertheless, Bus 102 carries non-mountaineers up to the Betzenberg from the Hauptbahnhof and the fare is included in the cost of your match ticket.
This is definitely the way to go if you're after the full 'Betzenberg Experience', hiking up the hill as the huge stadium looms above you as you get closer and closer.
Come out of the station doors towards the city centre and take a right onto Bahnhofstraße. When you get to the junction, turn right and go under the railway bridge until you reach the roundabout with the Elf Freunde statues (which were looking distinctly weathered on our last trip, so they might have been given a fresh lick of paint by now). From here, either head up to the northeast corner of the ground via Malzstraße; or head along Bremerstraße and turn left onto Zum Betzenburg and up to the southwest corner of the stadium.
There's actually a cut through you can use to save you heading to the Bremerstraße/Zum Betzenberg junction. It runs under the buildings on your left hand side as you walk along Bremerstraße away from the roundabout. It looks like a subway tunnel and you'll no doubt see loads of fans using it on a matchday. Let them guide you and it'll bring you out halfway up Zum Betzenberg. It's less than a mile from the station to the stadium, although the hill climb makes it feel much further.
FAN SHOP, MUSEUM & STADIUM TOURS
FCK Fan Shop at the Fritz Walter Stadion
(Fritz-Walter-Straße 1 67663: 9am-6pm, Mon-Fri; two hours before kick-off and one hour after full-time on matchdays. Access on a matchday is only possible with a valid match ticket.).
FCK Fan Shop 'Westkurve'
('K in Lautern' Shopping Centre, Riesenstraße 15 67655; 10am-6pm, Mon-Fri; 9:30am-2pm, Sat)
The small FCK Museum has exhibits dedicated to everything Fritz Walter & Co from 1900 onwards including replicas of the DFB-Pokal and the Meisterschale. It can be found on the first floor of the East Stand at the Fritz Walter Stadion, entrance block 18 (adult/concessions/FCK Members, €4/€2/€2 with an additional €2 for a guided tour; open two hours until 30 minutes before kick-off on home matchdays).
90 minute tours around the Betzenberg take you behind the scenes including the players' tunnel, dugouts, VIP areas and press room. They aren't run on a regular basis though and so the best advice is to email the club - firstname.lastname@example.org or phone them on +49 (0) 631 31880. More info and details about how to book can also be found here.
FOOD & DRINK OPTIONS
With the city centre so close, many fans head for the bars and restaurants there before making their way up to the ground. We found our way to Hannenfass Kaiserslautern (St.-Martins-Platz 1, 67657) which was a great place to combine the need for pub grub and a couple of pre-match pints. There's also The Snug Irish Pub further along the same street although it's difficult to recommend an Irish pub when you're supposed to be in Germany looking for an authentic football experience - like recommending a McDonalds over a currywurst!
You'll find all the usual fast food kiosks near the ground on matchday including around the Elf Freunde Roundabout. Once through the security pat-down at the stadium however, you're going to have to find one of the Betze-Card reps and get them to top it up with plastic money if you want to watch the match with a few pints of Krombacher (the official stadium beer). Buy all the food and drink you think you'll need for the entire match as well because it's a right old climb up the stairs to the upper tiers and we couldn't be bothered doing it all over again when it was time for a re-fill.
OTHER CLUBS IN THE AREA
BUNDESLIGA: 1.FSV Mainz 05, Eintracht Frankfurt
BUNDESLIGA 2: Karlsruher SC, SV Darmstadt 98, SV Sandhausen
3.LIGA: 1. FC Saarbrücken, SV Elversberg, SV Waldhof Mannheim, SV Wehen Wiesbaden