Date: 5th November 2011
Match: Hoffenheim - Kaiserslautern 1-1 (Bundesliga)
Attendance: 30 150
Hoffenheim is a village situated south of Heidelberg with a population of around 4 000. Their remarkable rise in the German league pyramid started when SAP owner Dietmar Hopp decided to invest some of his money into the club. In 2000 Hoffenheim played in Verbandsliga and in 2008 they were promoted to Bundesliga. Since their old home ground in Hoffenheim was too small to host Bundesliga football they played their home matches in Mannheim. Dietmar Hopp decided to build a new stadium for Hoffenheim though. Rhein-Neckar-Arena is situated outside Sinsheim, some
3 km from Hoffenheim. My journey to Sinsheim started in Frankfurt where I was based for the German part of this tour. First stop was Heidelberg where I changed to a S-bahn train for Sinsheim. The journey to Heidelberg was supposed to take 50 minutes. That was not to be the case though. Due to a "Verkehr störung" my train had to stop near Ladenburg and wait for 20 minutes. The train then slowly went backwards to the previous station before the journey to to Heidelberg continued. 1 h 55 min (65 minutes late) was the journey time to Heidelberg. Thankfully I had planned to visit the Sinsheim Museum for an hour before going to Rhein-Neckar-Arena. This meant I set off quite early and wasn´t in a hurry despite being an hour late. The S-bahn from Heidelberg is supposed to stop at "Sinsheim Arena/Museum" but when we arrived at Sinsheim Hbf only Kaiserslautern fans were allowed to go there by train. shuttle bus for the Hoffenheim fans. Being a neutral I stayed on the train!
There were plenty of police at the Sinsheim Arena/Museum train station but they didn´t have too much to do this afternoon. As I walked to Rhein-Neckar-Arena I passed the museum and it is not every day you see Concorde planes on your way to a football ground. The ground itself has a capacity of 30 150. The West (main) Stand is almost entirely for sponsors and VIPs. There were some VIPs at the match, Jogi Löw and Jürgen Klinsmann, but I don´t think they were too impressed what they saw this afternoon. Apart form the sponsors stand the ground is shaped like a bowl. The elevation of the stands is quite steep meaning you have an excellent view of the pitch. Away fans are in the northeast corner of the ground but for this game there were plenty of away fans in other sections as well.
The match itself was not as exciting as the one I attended in Mainz. It ended 1-1 at Rhein-Neckar-Arena. Hoffenheim were 1-0 up at half-time but Kaiserslautern deservedly equalised and if any team should have won this encounter it was Kaiserslautern. After the match Sinsheim Arena/Museum train station was closed (why?) so I had to find the shuttle bus taking me back to Sinsheim Hbf. The train to Heidelberg was more than over-crowded but at least I wasn´t left behind in Sinsheim. With five minutes to spare I made the connecting train to Frankfurt. An interesting tour came to an end. I now only have five grounds left to complete Bundesliga and most likely that will be achieved during 2012.
Fans and Concorde
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