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The Bundesliga is well-known for its strong crowds and fantastic atmosphere but you may not know that Germany's 2.Bundesliga has an incredible attendance record that is on par with the top flight.
In fact, seven out of the top 15 average attendances in German football can be found in 2.Bundesliga, the country's second division. What's the reason for this incredible statistic?
German football enjoys a reputation for cheap tickets, plentiful beer and packed terraces in what is viewed as a utopia for fans to enjoy their football.
The reality isn’t quite the same but German football does boast of a strong, engaged fan culture that holds a lot of sway at clubs up and down the country. Beer is available for most games and whilst tickets are cheap in the ‘fan-blocks’ behind the goals, which are usually occupied by the ultras and other long-standing hardcore supporters. These are usually subsidised by higher prices for other sections including hospitality areas at the big clubs.
One size doesn’t fit all in terms of how the German clubs operate but visitors or football tourists from the UK will certainly enjoy the matchday experience in Germany, from the Bundesliga down to the Regionalliga.
What you will find is a proper day out, home or away, a sense of collective identity amongst the supporters bolstered by the 50+1 rule, fervent, passionate support from dedicated fans and overall, a more democratic, equitable version of football compared to the sanitised, hyper-corporate Premier League.
In underlining the strength of the game in Germany and the extent of fine venues to experience live football, seven out of 15 of the top average attendances are in 2. Bundesliga, Germany's the second division.
What's different about the 2.Bundesliga?
Everyone knows of Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund, whilst in recent seasons RB Leipzig have emerged as unpopular and infamous challengers in the Bundesliga. Xabi Alonso has recently masterminded an upturn in the form of Bayer Leverkusen whilst the top league in 2023/24 also contains storied names such as Eintracht Frankfurt, Stuttgart and Cologne as well as Union Berlin, who are experiencing their first UEFA Champions League campaign this term.
However, the 2. Bundesliga has plenty going for it including several massive clubs and a fiercely competitive productive with little to separate most teams, in terms of their form and often, the points tally.
This season, the second tier is the platform for Hamburg, Hertha Berlin, Schalke, Kaiserslautern as well as a handful of others who punch above the weight that their current status suggests.
FC Schalke 04 – SV Elversberg, 10-10-2023.
— T (@unnerwall) November 10, 2023
These are very well-supported clubs and here are the stadiums that make up around half of the top average attendances in Germany:
Schalke 04 – Veltins Arena (Arena Auf Schalke)
Capacity 62,271 – Average attendance 61,623
Hamburger SV – Volksparkstadion
Capacity 57,030 – Average attendance 56,617
Hertha BSC – Olympiastadion
Capacity 74,475 – Average attendance 44,168
1.FC Kaiserslautern – Fritz Walter Stadion
Capacity – 49,850 – Average attendance 43,353
Hannover 96 – Heinz von Heiden Arena( Niedersachsenstadion)
Capacity 49,200 – Average attendance 37,750
1.FC Nurnberg – Max Morlock Stadion
Capacity 50,000 – Average attendance 37.331
Fortuna Dusseldorf – Merkur Spiel Arena (Dusseldorf Arena)
Capacity 54,600 – Average attendance 35,287
— HSV English (@HSV_English) November 7, 2023
2.Bundesliga average attendance
2023/24 highest 2.Bundesliga attendance
So far this season, as of the November international break, the highest average attendance has been secured by Schalke with 61,623.
2022/23 average 2.Bundesliga attendance
The average attendance across the season 22,270 with HSV enjoying the highest average (53, 529), whilst St. Pauli recorded the highest stadium occupancy with a 99% rate across the campaign.
3.Bundesliga average attendance
2023/24 3.Bundesliga average attendance
In the third tier, to date, the average attendance is 9,628 with Dynamo Dresden comfortably registering the highest average of any particular club with a figure of 29,244.
2022/23 3.Bundesliga average attendance
Last season in 2.Liga, the average across the full season was 8,222 whilst Dynamo topped the table for their collective 24,565 average.
What is the average Bundesliga attendance?
The figures above detail the strength of crowd numbers in German football throughout the leagues and not just in the Bundesliga.
Despite the dominance of Bayern Munich at the top of the table, there is no adverse effect on the numbers who flock every week to follow their club, home and away.
Why is this? As intimated previously in this article, the sense of belonging and collective identity is a massive cornerstone of German football. Of course, the supporters want their side to win and be successful but for most, this isn't likely to happen regularly and they are fine with that.
With fans having a strong say in the running of most clubs, they have a seat at the table in terms of decision-making and are at the forefront of many of the decisions made at clubs. Crucially, ordinary fans are not priced out in Germany and that is where we find a stark difference to the situation in England with the prohibitive costs that are now expected in the Premier League.
The average Bundesliga attendance so far in 2023/24 of 39,666 with Borussia Dortmund topping the individual table with their figure of 81,365 – that is 100% capacity of their home allocation, which has been sold out on six occasions so far.
2022/23 Bundesliga average attendance
Last season, the average attendance in the Bundesliga was 42,993 with Dortmund coming out on top, again. They recorded the top individual crowd, with Borussia Dortmund's average Westfalenstadion attendance, over the full campaign, coming in at 81,228.
What is the biggest Bundesliga stadium?
Borussia Dortmund have the biggest Bundesliga stadium with a capacity of 81,365. The supporters hold on to its traditional name, the Westfalenstadion, although it is currently known for sponsorship purposes as Signal Iduna Park.
Bayern Munich's Allianz Arena is second on the list of the Bundesliga's biggest stadiums with a capacity of 75,024 whilst Stuttgart's MHP Arena earns the tag of the third biggest stadium, as things stand, with a capability of hosting 60,469.
What is the biggest 2.Bundesliga stadium?
The volatility of German football and the presence of some massive clubs in its second division is reflected nicely in the make-up of its biggest grounds.
The biggest 2.Bundesliga stadium in the current campaign is Berlin's Olympiastadion, the home of Hertha BSC, with a capacity of 74,475 whilst Schalke's Veltins-Arena can hold 62,271.
Hamburg's Volksparkstadion stands at number three on the list of the 2.Bundesliga's biggest stadiums with a capacity of 57,030.
To their credit, Schalke, HSV and Hertha have the respective first, second and third highest average attendances in 2.Bundesliga but for matters of sporting merit, they will be hoping not to repeat the feat next season by returning to play their trade in the top flight.