The field of dreams – and the stands around it
Slowly approaching its centenary, the Letzigrund has come a long way since its inception. Created by and for the members of the multisport FC Zürich, the Letzigrund is today shared between FCZ and Grasshoppers.
Its long history can be easily divided between the original stadium opened on November 22, 1925 – and the one rebuilt on its same site for Euro 2008 on August 30, 2007.
Top-flight football and world-class athletics have been a feature throughout. The first ratified ten-second 100-metre dash was run here in 1960.
Although ownership passed from FCZ to the City of Zürich in 1937, improvements were slow and interrupted by war. The Letzigrund was duly overlooked for Switzerland’s hosting of the 1954 World Cup, five matches (and 28 goals) witnessed at the Hardturm, Grasshopper’s ground less than 1km away.
Both grounds are set in north-west Zürich. But when it came down to which one to modernise with Euro 2008 on the horizon, there were more than two options. On the table was also a proposal to build a new arena in Zürich West.
In the end, though the public voted for a reconstruction of the Hardturm, local residents objected and the rebuilding of the Letzigrund was rushed through. In 2006-07, city’s two clubs shared the venerable Hardturm for one last season. It was later demolished – and the new stadium plans rejected. In August 2006, FCZ fans were invited to enter the old Letzigrund and take home seats and pieces of turf for souvenirs.
Exactly a year and SF125 million later, the new Letzigrund opened its doors. With a capacity of nearly 31,000 for Euro 2008, 26,000 for domestic league fixtures and 24,000 for internationals, the Letzigrund is the fourth-largest football stadium in the country.
Apart from the new skyboxes, business lounges, media centre and Oval restaurant, the main new feature is the roof. Rust-coloured and elliptical in shape, it replaced the characteristic if strange indented ones pre-2007. Poking up all around it are 30 toothbrush-shaped floodlights, set an angle beside the solar panels that generate enough heat to grill 1,800 sausages during one match.
Traditionally, FCZ fans occupy the Südkurve, with standing places for domestic fixtures in Sektor D, blocks 24-27. Away fans are allocated Sektor B at the opposite end, blocks 9-13. If Grasshoppers are at home, then theirs is the Baslerstraße end, Sektor B, and away fans are allocated blocks 27-31 in Sektor D on Badenerstraße. Similarly, for international matches, away fans occupy blocks 27-29 of Sektor D.
Going to the stadium – tips and timings
The Letzigrund has its own stop on tramline 2 eight stops/14mins from central Paradeplatz, direction Farbhof. Trams run every 8-10mins.
From the Bahnhofplatz/HB stop at the station, take the 3 or 14 to Stauffacher and change onto the 2. Alternatively, from the station, the 3 (direction Albisrieden) runs on to Albisriederplatz, one tram stop/7min walk from the stadium.
Buying tickets – when, where, how and how much
For international matches, the Swiss FA use online agency Ticketcorner for distribution – a seat in a corner of the main stand is just under SF50.
Supporters of opposing national teams should contact their individual FA for ticket availability and information.
Where to Drink
Pre-match beers for fans and casual visitors
The Letzigrund is surrounded by bars and restaurants offering all kinds of global cuisines.
On main Badenerstraße, Libero (No.451) is a classic Balkan grill serving Yugo meaty favourites such as ćevapčići and pljeskavica. As well as a terrace, there are pizzas and pastas too – but that’s not why you’re here. Further down Badenerstraße is a Korean restaurant (No.457), Indian (No.505) and Tex-Mex alongside.
Pride of place goes to Ristorante Da Cono (No.526), an excellent and spacious Italian restaurant that takes its boccia seriously. As well as hosting Italian bowls, Da Cono offers authentic pizzas, taglierini with black truffles (SF32) and osso bucco (SF34). There are big screens for TV sports, too. It’s right by the stadium, which is why its bocciodromo is called Letzi.
On the other side of the stadium is another decent Italian restaurant, Da Pippo, occupying the site of the former ZicZac rock bar at Herdernstraße 56.
If you’re just after beers, then opposite, the Schlachthof has been a pre-match favourite for decades. Officially a restaurant, with fondues offered in its adjoining Alpstübli dining room, Schlachthof serves dark Dunkle Perle Feldschlößchen, Grimbergen, San Miguel and Leffe on draught in traditional beerhall surroundings.
Finally, at the stadium itself, overlooking the VIP sector and the pitch, the Ovalrestaurant opens to the public on non-match weekdays 11am-3pm – you’ll have to reserve a table for the game. Tasteful line drawings and black-and-white photographs line the walls. The menu changes daily, but usually features a few football-themed dishes, main courses around SF20.