Eisstadion Eisbaeren Berlin
The ice-rink at the Sportforum Berlin, known as the "Wellblechpalast", has been the home of the Eisbaeren Berlin since 1963.
After ground was broken in 1963 the rink got roofed in 1968. In 1990 renovations took place and the stadium-seating was changed to single-seats. Today you will find 1.800 seats and 3.800 standing-room spaces so that a total of 5.600 fans can fit into the arena. If you got a VIP-ticket you will find a spacious VIP-area with a nice buffet prior to the game and a chance to visit the press-conference after the game. If you got a normal ticket you got the right to try a purchase at one of the few and extremly overcrowded concession stands around the arena.
In 1999 the team was bought by the Anschut-group which also owns the NHL´s Los Angeles
Kings, the Munich Barons (also DEL) and the London Knights. For the longterm-future a new
arena is planned and might be shared with the other DEL-team from the capital, the Berlin
Capitals. So far nothing is planned in detail though. A second huge renovations of the
Wellblechpalast was discussed a while ago but due to the way the arena is constructed a
renovation would be financially unreasonable, for example the construction of the roof
would not even allow the installation of a videoscreen (at least when you don´t want to
find your scoreboard on the ice one day as the Buffalo Sabres did in 1997 when their
gigantic scoreboard just crahsed on the ice overnight). A videoscreen has been installed
in 1996 opposite the main stands in order to air at least some advertisements, but it´s
definetly not up to today´s standards.
Tips for visitors:
Due to the fact that the Eisbären are outdrawing the Berlin Capitals by a large margin at the moment (which cannot be seen at the official attendance numbers but german teams are known for having trouble to complete a correct attendance-count; taxes might play a role here) you can expect very crowded standing-room areas and sold-out seating areas. Smoking is prohibited inside the closed area but nobody really cares too much about this. With a prehistoric air-conditioning inside the arena the result is predictable.
Also an unknown experience for many hockey-fans could be the extreme controlls by the security-crew at the entrance, you´re basically not allowed to take anything into the arena besides yourself. Everything that could be thrown on the ice or used as a weapon in some manner has to stay outside, even if it´s a bag of chips. If you´re unlucky you might have to wait for up to 45 minutes in order to pass the security-crew when a big crowd is on hand.
Nevertheless the arena is packed for most games and one can only imagine how many fans would come to the games when the Eisbären would hit the ice in a modern arena where a visit has less of a struggle than at the Wellblechpalast. Maybe the future will tell, but as I already typed there are no current plans for a new arena at the moment (January 2001).
Especially games against the Berlin Capitals are a great experience and result in a rocking arena. If rumors are true the team prints a few standing-room tickets too many for those matches so be sure to be at the arena very early. For most games you will be able to pick up tickets on gameday at the box-office, games vs the Berlin Capitals might be the only exception but for an official sellout the team will probably sell 7.000 tickets.
Getting to the arena from the main train-station ("Ostbahnhof"):
Take the S-Bahn (streettrain) to the east (direction "Strausberg",
"Mahlsdorf", "Erkner Ahrendsfekde" or "Wartenberg"). After
two stations get of the train at the Bahnhof (trainstation) "Ostkreuz". Your
train will roll into the station on the lower level, go to the upper level and take a
train to the north (direction "Bernau", "Birkenwerder",
"Buch", "Blankenburg" or "Pankow"). At the third station you
will get to the trainstaton "Landsberger Allee". Through the tunnel you will get
to another streettrainstation-station. Take line 5 or 15 and get off at
"Sandinostrasse". You will probably see enough people in hockey-jerseys by now
to find the arena without problems.
Links to the team:
the team: www.eisbaeren.de
Fan-Homepage by Martin Pirch: www.ehcdynamo.de