St. Leonard Stadion
The St. Leonard Stadion is located in Fribourg, just at the language-border between the german- and french-speaking sections of Switzerland (the name of the town is "Freiburg" in german, "Fribourg" in french).
The local hockey-team was founded in 1937 and named after the river Gotterón (in german: Geltenbach), located in the Galterental (vallée du Gottéron), a valley in one of the original suburbs of Freiburg.
The "Communale St. Leonard", the home-rink of the team, was build in 1980 and has a capacity of 7433, 4800 of those are standing-room tickets. With average crowds between 4500 and 5500 during the past few years the club has managed to broaden it´s fanbase and especially games against local rivals such as Lausanne, which is just 30 kilometers away, are regular sellouts.
Even though the team made it to the finals four times in it´s long history no championship has been won so far. Ever since 1980 the team is in the highest division of hockey in Switzerland, the NLA, and went almost bankrupt in 1988 when the management and the fans saved the team in heroic fashion.
The most succesfull times of the club began in the early 90s when the team managed to get the two best hockey-players of the world (besides Wayne Gretzky) into it´s lineup. Slava Bykov and Andrey Khomutov, who also played together on the first line of the national team of Russia, took the ice in Fribourg and attracted huge crowds whenever they played at home or on the road during their nine years with the team. After their active careers both players took other jobs with the clubs off the ice.
For a ceremonial final game for Slava Bykov many well-known hockey-players came to
Fribourg in order to participate, for example Pavel Bure and Alexei Yashin, who are both
still playing in the NHL.
Tipps for visitors:
If you wish to stand in the "Curva Nord" with the loudest fans of the team (standing room) be advised to arrive at least an hour or even an hour and a half before the opening faceoff as good standing-room spaces are filled rather early. The doors open an hour before the game and when you reach the Curva Nord be sure not to stand close to the entrance as many long-time fans of the club have "their" standing-room spots and are not willing to part with them, even if they arrive late.
Adress of the team:
HC Fribourg Gottéron
Links to the team:
From Basel/Zürich drive in direction to Bern. When you´re in Bern take the road towards Genf, Lausanne and, finally, Fribourg. From Bern you will probably need 15 minutes to the highway-exit "Freiburg Nord" where you will immedeatly find the arena.