By Mark Dingwall
We were on our travels and very lucky to see a little of what goes on behind the scenes at Rapid Vienna.
In this article and video we look at how Rapid have sought to maximise the money they bring in while respecting the clubs traditions. We also got a wee tour of the home dressing room and technical area – the laundry!
The new Rapid ground – officially the Allianz Stadion, known to fans as Weststadion – opened a couple of years ago with a capacity of 28,000 for league games, 24,000 for European games.
Erecting the new stadium saw the club build on a relatively small footprint of land – so they’ve used the space cleverly – it’s a compact ground but fits in a club shop, offices, museum and lots of hospitality space.
In fact – there are around 1,800 hospitality seats in the main stand on four levels. On three levels the areas are open plan – on the fourth it’s corporate boxes. Respectful opposition fans are welcome. Anyone who fancies it – drop me a note and I can pass on your details to their sales team – firstname.lastname@example.org
The first level is self-contained. If you go into the other areas you can move between floors to take advantage of different kinds of bars and food outlets. On the court level there is also the Rekord Meister Bar bar and restaurant – where most of the tables are dedicated to individual championships or cup wins.
Having such a swathe of corporate facilities was not really welcomed by the average fan – but in a relatively small stadium the decision was taken that the club needed to maximise revenue form hospitality and corporate sales. A compromise of kinds was reached.
The Rapid fans see themselves as a working-class club and so they ensured that old players get tickets for every game and mix with the fans, their oldest player is 93 and a regular visitor. The current team have no roped off area – after the game they and their families mix with fans in the hospitality areas. There’s also a rule that all the hospitality areas are cleared once the match starts so that you don’t have those dreadful swathes of empty seats you see in the Wembley corporate areas.
An interesting touch in one corporate box was that the owner had bought two of them and knocked them into one – and then installed the floor from his favourite Viennese restaurant!
Many thanks to Matthias Antony for guiding us through the stadium despite his recent knee surgery.
Dressing rooms – the Rapid dressing rooms are a decent size but not NFL-like. What they do have is a continuation of the club theme of Unity, Fight and Win reinforced by the inclusion of old club slogans and quotes on the walls. Add to that the fact that an old club song mentions green and white on my chest – and they have a a green and white band that goes through all the public areas of the stadium to symbolise everyone being united within the Rapid Family.
I’m not usually a fan of dressing rooms being decorated with slogans – those message boards put up in the Ibrox dressing room the other season were an embarrassingly juvenile attempt and a desecration of the art deco style of the main stand. For Rapid with the way they try to get the club ethos and sense of history into everything they do – it works.
You can check out the video of our behind the scenes tour here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IcHNNCfJ5Vw&t=1s
No guns, knives, darts or dogs.