UPDATED FOR 2023-24 - AUGUST 2023
Founded: Jul 23, 1921
Club Members: 700
Nickname: Die OldSchdod
Coach: Marek Mintal
Captain: Edwin Schwarz
Regionalliga Bavaria: 1
Every July, the elite of German society turn out for the gala opening of the Bayreuth Festival - Europe’s most exclusive arts ticket. Founded in 1876, the festival is limited to the operas of just one composer – Richard Wagner – and attendance is seen by legions of fans as a pilgrimage as much as a musical experience. So devoted are the Wagnerites that they will not only wait years for tickets, but also sit in seats without armrests, in a hot, badly ventilated auditorium, in rows without aisles and with no means of escape once the performance has started. And note that, with intervals, ‘Gotterdammerung’ lasts nearly seven hours.
The event has certainly put the small Bavarian city of Bayreuth (pronounced 'By-Royt') on the map; but away from the pomp, glamour and glory of Wagner's semi-religious music festival, the stage is also set for SpVgg Bayreuth now that the club has finally ended a 40-year exile from professional football.
A virtual recluse of an entity having spent most of their history in the complicated lower league system of German football, they were formed in July 1921 when 20 members of a gymnastics association (TuSpo Bayreuth) gathered at the Bamberger Hof restaurant in Bayreuth to discuss forming their own club - FSVgg Bayreuth Altstadt - the precursor of today's SpVgg Bayreuth. The footballing gymnasts were joined by players from local club FC Stern in 1925 and after leasing a potato field on Jakobshöhe as a ground for 150 Reichsmarks a year, they played in local championships - becoming Bayreuth-Hof district champions in 1931 and 1933 before the club was brought to a shuddering halt following the National Socialists' rise to power.
During the 19th-century, Germany was dominated by the ideals of discipline and order; and fervent patriots like Friedrich Ludwig Jahn organised gymnastic events across the country to counter 'the physical decline of humanity' following Prussia's defeat in the Napoleonic War. Sport became a highly politicised issue with strong nationalist overtones and football in particular was viewed by many as unpatriotic with players branded 'Traitors to the Fatherland'. As interest in the new English sport gained traction, a class division developed in German society and gymnasts began using their clout to persuade the authorities to drive away anyone who wanted to kick a leather ball about instead. In response, the 'Arbeiter Turn und Sportbund' (ATSB) was formed in 1893 as a workers' sports association that actively promoted interest in sports other than just gymnastics as well as leftist political views based around class struggle and nationalism. Weeks after coming to power, the Nazis ordered the ATSB and any other sports associations with left-leaning or faith-based affiliations, to be banned, dissolved and deleted from official records. And, having joined the ATSB in 1925, FSVgg Bayreuth Altstadt were forced to disband and form part of a new 'ideologically palatable' club called FSV Bayreuth made up of locally stationed soldiers which resulted in a constant change of lineup as they were transferred in and out of the area.
The Allies brought Hitler's 'Thousand Year Reich' to an end in 1945 and introduced a policy of de-Nazification in occupied Germany which forced all sports clubs to disband. As football and dictatorship began to untangle themselves after the conflict, the club duly reformed on 4th November 1945 as 'SpVgg Bayreuth' and returned to action in the fifth-tier Bezirksklasse Bayreuth before winning promotion to the Bayernliga by lifting the Gruppenliga Oberfranken East championship in 1954. After becoming Bayernliga champions in 1959, Bayreuth then edged past VfR Pforzheim in a play-off to secure a berth in the second tier Oberliga Süd and, for good measure, also threw in a run to the final of the Bavarian Amateur championships that year where they beat Schwaben Augsburg to claim that title for the first time. Bayreuth spent the next three seasons in the second tier of German football and although they were never likely to have their name etched onto the Oberliga trophy; the goals of Fritz Semmelmann, Hans Zeus and Jumbo Zeitler helped the side achieve a very creditable fifth place finish in its first year before progress eventually tailed off and the club were relegated in 1962.
Having missed the cut when the German FA were deciding which sixteen clubs should form the new Bundesliga in 1963, Die OldSchdod ('The Old Town' -as they’re referred to by locals) settled down to life in the third tier Amateurliga Bayern and after building up some momentum, a title win in 1969 saw them promoted to the Regionalliga Süd. Life back in the second tier of German football was a brief one however and after struggling to keep their heads above water for much of the season, it wasn't a surprise when they lost a relegation play-off match to ESV Ingolstadt to finally end any lingering notions they might have harboured of staying up.
In 1971, after a tour-de-force campaign during which they lost just twice and finished 15 points clear of second place SpVgg Weiden, Bayreuth were back and managed fourth (1973) and fifth (1974) place finishes before this small club nearly made the big time when they came within three matches of playing Bundesliga football. Top of the Regionalliga Süd table going into the penultimate match of the 1978-79 season, a ruinous home defeat by mid-table FSV Frankfurt opened the door for title rivals TSV 1860 München to claim the glory, and promotion, to the top-flight. As a grim addendum, Bayreuth then missed out on the Bundesliga for the second time in as many weeks when they went down 3-2 on aggregate to Bayer 05 Uerdingen in that season’s promotion/relegation play-off.
Despite the disappointment however, the club’s high-water mark was achieved the following season when Uwe Sommerer’s solitary strike sent a Bayern München team featuring the likes of Karl Heinz Rummenigge, Paul Breitner and Klaus Augenthaler tumbling out of the DFB-Pokal. Giants slain, Bayreuth progressed to the quarter-finals before Bundesliga heavyweights FC Schalke 04 were thrown in their path and beat the underdogs 3-1.
For Bayreuth, the win over Bayern was the final flourish of a golden period in their history and by the time the 70s had given way to the 80s, things were beginning to unravel. After relegation from Bundesliga.2 in 1982, the club bounced back under coach Erich Beer by winning the Oberliga title in 1985 but weakened by departures and without the appeal or funds to attract quality replacements, the first team soon became a mix of overpromoted hopefuls and underpowered journeymen. They would have been relegated in 1988 and 1989, but for the fact that Rot Weiß Oberhausen and then Kickers Offenbach were on the brink of financial ruin and had been demoted by the DFB instead. In the end, there are only so many times you can cheat fate if you repeatedly court disaster and there was no reprieve in 1990 as Bayreuth were relegated and went into a tailspin that saw them end up in the fifth tier Landesliga by 1997 and narrowly avoid bankruptcy themselves in 2008.
Recent years saw a return to form however and Die OldSchdod finally returned to professional football in 2022 after outpacing Bayern München II to the Regionalliga Bayern title. Unfortunately, the adventure ended 12 months on with a last place finish and the Hans Walter Wild Stadion will again play host to fourth-tier football this season.
Ground Name: Hans Walter Wild Stadion
Year Opened: 1967
Renovations: 1974, 1979, 1990, 2005, 2016 - 2018
Capacity: 21,500 (18,000 standing)
Record Attendance: 22,500 (1979)
Undersoil Heating: Yes
Running Track: Yes
Floodlights: 1,000 lux
LED Video Screen: Yes
Playing Surface: Natural Grass
Jakobshöhe (1925 - 1974)
Städtisches Stadion Am Ellrodtweg (1974 - 2002)
Hans Walter Wild Stadion (2002 - ) *
Waldstadion Weismain (2016 - 2017) ^
^ Renovations at Hans Walter Wild Stadion
With its riverside setting in a quiet residential area, the Hans Walter Wild Stadion has been SpVgg Bayreuth's home since 1974 and it's part of a multi-sports complex which includes several training fields, an indoor swimming pool, ice rink and the multi-functional Oberfrankenhalle hall.
Opened on 12th June 1967 as the Städtisches Stadion am Ellrodtweg, the new ground was a fairly basic low-slung oval with a cinder running track and no grandstands. Used primarily as an athletics venue, football became almost an afterthought and it wasn't until 23rd May 1974 that the first official match was played here when SpVgg Bayreuth met Kickers Offenbach in a friendly to mark the opening of today's main stand which had been built to finally offer spectators some comfort.
After moving out of the Jakobshöhe which had been their home since 1925, SpVgg Bayreuth became tenants later that summer and the stadium was packed to the rafters in 1979 when 22,500 saw Die Altstädter miss out on promotion to the Bundesliga when they fell narrowly to Bayer 05 Uerdingen in a play-off. A year later, 18,000 turned up turned up to see Bayreuth sensationally knock Bayern München out of the DFB-Pokal in the third round. Therefore, with the ground coping easily with the demands put on it, no-one was in a hurry to 'fix' what wasn't broken and apart from development of the west Kurve in 1979 and work to repair damage to the grandstand caused by a gale in 1990, the stadium remained largely unchanged for the next four decades.
By the time the municipal-owned stadium had been renamed after long serving Bayreuth mayor Hans Walter Wild in 2002 however, it was beginning to show its age and with concerns about maintenance costs becoming a burden to local taxpayers, the city council announced plans to revamp the ground in 2012. The work eventually got underway in 2016 and in addition to installing a synthetic athletics track and replacing seat shells in the main stand, the dilapidated Gegengerade terrace was demolished, rebuilt and given a roof in a three-year project costing €2.5 million which saw Bayreuth use the Waldstadion 20 miles away in Weismain as a temporary home.
Despite the recent developments however, there are no brave new world stadia amenities on offer at the 'HaWaWi ' and it remains a rather basic, lower-league venue.
The 3,500-seater, single-tiered Haupttribüne (main stand) with its distinctive vaulted roof is a focal part of the ground with perspex sheets acting as wind breaks along the back and at either end. The seating area is raised above pitch level, requiring spectators to climb a small set of stairs to enter it and although there was plenty of seating available on our visit, the supporting pillars along its length may hinder your view of the action. The dugouts, changing rooms, media facilities and club offices are all found in this stand and on either side of it there are areas of open terracing. Opposite the main grandstand is a good-sized covered terrace known by locals as 'Das Biest ' (The Beast). It opened in March 2019 and in some respects, it mirrors the main stand in terms of width (it also sits astride the halfway line and runs for around half the length of the pitch), has a high placed roof and sections of open terracing to each side. At each end of the oval shaped ground there’s a crescent of low concrete terracing and a scoreboard was installed on the east terrace in 2019. The stadium's sporting duality and the unusual 'four-lane' all-weather running track that rings the pitch sets the Kurves behind each goal a fair distance from the action and makes it feel more of an athletics venue than a football ground. In addition, the absence of any yellow and black seating or 'SpVgg Bayreuth' banners in the stands offers few clues as to which club calls this 'home'; and from the right angle it would make for a challenging ‘Guess the Ground’ photo competition.
Following the club's promotion to the 3.Liga, work was carried out to get the ground up-to-spec but it took a while before any evening matches could be played here. €1.2 million had been set aside to finally install a floodlight system and the original plan was for Bayreuth to buy the lights from FC Carl Zeiss Jena whose Ernst Abbe Sportfeld home was in the process of being revamped. However, a change in stadium requirements meant that these were no longer of sufficient standard for the league, and with the club under pressure to resolve the issue before the dark nights closed in, it wasn't until October 2022 that floodlights were finally switched on.
In addition to being home to SpVgg Bayreuth, the German B and Women's national teams have played here and in 2010, 5,000 fans saw the first full international match at the stadium as Mexico beat Gambia 5-1 as part of preparations for 'El Tri ' before the World Cup in South Africa that summer. And, apart from football, the likes of Rod Stewart, Bon Jovi and Michael Jackson have all rocked the HaWaWi on their world tours.
2022-2023: 4,499 (3.Liga)
2021-2022: 1,536 (Regionalliga Bayern) *
2020-2021: 809 (Regionalliga Bayern) *
2019-2020: N/A *
2018-2019: 690 (Regionalliga Bayern)
* Season affected by COVID pandemic
Expected Ticket Availability
Tucked away in northern Bavaria and quite remote from the big players of the German league system, Bayreuth have historically been a club with a very small fanbase and the gap between supply and demand for tickets is going to remain a healthy one. With the 'HaWaWi' unlikely to be packed to the rafters therefore, Bayreuth's matches can be treated as 'walk-ups' and tickets will be available from the box offices outside the ground which open 90 minutes before kick-off.
If you're one of those anxious types who need to have a ticket secured in advance, then you can buy Print@Home and Mobile Ticket versions via the online ticket shop. It's in German only but if you're struggling to understand what's on the screen in front of you, then Google Chrome’s translation feature makes booking tickets through the club's ticketing partner 'Reservix' a very straightforward process.
Full-paying adults can expect to pay between €18-€22 for a seat in the Haupttribüne (Main Stand) and €10 to watch the action from the terraces - although Reservix will add a €2 'service charge' for going to the trouble of selling you a ticket online. With regards to walk-ups, at the time of writing, there's no mention about surcharges being added at the box offices on a matchday - but it was €2 during 2022-23 and it wouldn't be any surprise if Bayreuth wanted to help offset the cost of relegation by keeping it the same for this campaign.
GETTING THERE & AWAY
Friedrich Ebert Straße 74
The club ask that you leave the car at home but if that's not possible, come off the A9 at the Bayreuth-Süd exit (junction 42) and at the traffic lights, turn right onto Bundesstraße 2 towards the city centre. Turn right again at the first junction and follow the road (this is still Bundesstraße 2) as it becomes Nürnburger Straße. After a mile, turn right onto Königsallee and then turn left onto Friedrich Ebert Straße before picking up signs for the Volksfestplatz car park (€4 per vehicle). Parking is also available at the Oberfrankenhalle (730 places; Albrecht Dürer Straße 2a, 95448, Bayreuth) Note: On a matchday, Albrecht Dürer Straße is closed to traffic just beyond the Oberfrankenhalle car park and OMV petrol station.
From Bayreuth Hauptbahnhof, catch the 302 bus (Direction: Hammerstatt) for the four minute ride to the Friedrich Ebert Straße stop. From there, just walk back on yourself along the road and after about 100 metres, turn left down Friedrich Ebert Straße.
The Hans Walter Wild Stadion is an easy 10-15 minute walk from Bayreuth's Hauptbahnhof. From the main entrance of the station, head downhill along Bahnhofstraße towards the city centre. After about 300 metres, you'll come to the junction with Hohenzollernring (look for the Bayreuth Döner No.1 and Asia Wok Imbiss food stalls on the corner).Turn left here and follow the ring road keeping the Red Main (Roter Main) river on your left until you reach the junction with Albert Dürer Straße. Turn left here and follow Albert Dürer Straße under the railway bridge and past the OMV petrol station.
From here you've got a choice. If you're in the main stand, carry on a bit further along Albert Dürer Straße and turn right onto Friedrich Ebert Straße. Take the first right and the main stand turnstiles will be at the bottom of the road. Otherwise, look for the signpost (see photo) directing you along the Ellrodtweg footpath by the river.
FAN SHOP, MUSEUM & STADIUM TOURS
Bad news for collectors of matchday memorabilia. Highlighting the straitened economic realities of being a modest club used to operating in the amateur ranks, it looks like Bayreuth are yet to justify the cost of opening a fan shop.
They might operate a mobile shop at the stadium on matchdays (we visited for a pre-season friendly in July 2022) but otherwise, all your yellow and black souvenirs will have to be sourced through the club's online shop here
FOOD & DRINK OPTIONS
The historic centre of Bayreuth is your best bet when it comes to pub grub and beer and there's more than a few good options for you to choose from. The city's busiest eatery is Oskar which opens 8am-12am most days and serves up Bavarian breakfasts, full-on dinner feasts or a Friedenfelser beer and tasty
bratwurst anytime you feel. Join locals for the best pizza in town at Hansl's Wood Oven Pizzeria (Friedrichstraße 15) - a hole-in-the-wall place where you can choose your own toppings and even name your creation.
On a matchday, a number of kiosk vendors offering typical fan favourites set up at the stadium and you can watch the match with a few pints of Maisel's Weisse and a burnt Bayreuth bratwurst from the griddle. You won't be surprised to learn either that there's no stadium card system in operation and everything can be paid for using cash.
OTHER CLUBS IN THE AREA
BUNDESLIGA: FC Augsburg, FC Bayern München
BUNDESLIGA 2: 1.FC Nürnberg, SpVgg Greuther Fürth
3.LIGA: FC Ingolstadt 04, SpVgg Unterhaching, SSV Jahn Regensburg, TSV 1860 München