There are two major soccer clubs in Hamburg – and they are so different. If you look at their national and international merch sales, the in fact (economically) smaller FC St. Pauli is more successful out of Greater Hamburg. There are two reasons: the club is still very fan-driven and also very (left-winged) politic. For example, the fans refuse that the name of the club’s stadium, the Millerntor-Stadion (formerly Wilhelm-Koch-Stadion) is sold to an investor. In addition, the club’s marketing is excellent and their merchandise with the skull head is selling extremely well. I visited their stadium on one of the organized tours, which are typically marketed as Millerntour. Here is my review.
Millerntor Stadium – Location & Transport
The stadium is located just East of the famous Reeperbahn red light and party district. The public transport of choice is the U3 underground rail, either using the St. Pauli or the Feldstraße stop. If you want to use the S-Bahn commuter rail system, the next stops are Landungsbrücken and Sternschanze, which both require a bit of walking. The stadium at the Heiligengeistfeld is also right next to the location, which is used several times for the Hamburger Dom fun fair.
The stadium tours are driven by Kiezbeben, the (fan driven) museum of FC St. Pauli. Thus, the tours also start at the museum, your tour ticket also allows you to visit the museum. I took the longer 120 minute tour, which is the standard duration. It is (as of time of publishing) offered Monday to Saturday at 14:30 hrs. On Saturdays and Sundays, there is an additional slot at 10:30 hrs. Admission is 16 EUR. There are also short guided tours (60 minutes, 12 Euro) twice a week. At the end of the tour, you receive a 5 EUR voucher for the fan store. Please note that there are neither tours during home match days nor in parallel to away matches taking place.
Millerntor Stadium – The Tour
The stadium tour started at the museum at the South East side of the Millerntor-Stadion, from where we first entered the stands from the Northeast tip. The arena has a capacity of 29,546 seats. The stadium is special in many ways – one is that it has a comparably large capacity for standing fans. The guide was a some thirty years old Hamburg citizen, who is an FC St. Pauli fan since his very early childhood years. He was really great, told a lot of stories about the stadium and the club and the background of why some things are just a bit different in this part of Hamburg.
Some of the special stories around this stadium is for example that it is the only professional soccer stadium in Germany which is having an own kindergarten, the Piraten-Nest. There is also a street art festival, due to which the big pieces of art in and around the stadium might look very different when you visit it.
FC St. Pauli Locker Room and other Places
One of the key parts of any stadium tour is of course visiting the home team’s locker room. The Millerntour offered that experience as well, of course. The St. Pauli locker room feels rather basic, compared to the places I have been before. An experience which is absolutely stunning, though, is taking the tunnel to the pitch. Luckily, the pictures below nicely catch how the skull head logo is almost feeling to approach you when take the final steps into the stadium in the red aisle. I feel it is really amazing.
Special Place – Special Loges
From the pitch area, we headed up to the VIP room. As the whole stadium, this place is very down to Earth. Interestingly, the major business loge area features food as of the region of the guest team on the match day. A highlight of many visitors is visiting the press room with the sponsoring banner in the back which you know so well from TV coverage. The guide was also very helpful with snaps in places like that – which was still not bothering due to a comparably nice group size of some 25 people.
From there we had a look into some of the loges, which are partially designed in a very special way. The Alpine skiing region sponsor area had a very unique flair. The most characteristic place, though, is likely the lounge currently rented by a local strip club – they even have a dancing pole in here. From that level, we also had some nice views of the stadium before the tour was coming to an end.
Millerntor Stadium – Service
As said above, being part of the tour automatically allows you to visit the club’s museum. I will feature it in a separate posting. Regardless of your 5 EUR voucher, you may want to have a close look to some purchasable memories at the St. Pauli store at the front of the Millerntor stadium.
Millerntor Stadium – My View
The FC St. Pauli is maybe the German soccer club most dependent on being driven by their own fans. You could feel the pride of these people in every second of the stadium tour, which felt very personal and had a typical Hamburg-style signature. The stadium is a bit of basic compared to the posh soccer temples built nowadays, but this is part of the spirit of these two hours. A match at Hamburg-St. Pauli is simply different. It might not be the most convenient match experience, but special and memorable. Just as this tour.
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