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Design & Development

Vienna seeks European first for Ernst Happel Stadion

Featured image credit: Peter Gugerell

The City of Vienna has revealed plans to make Ernst Happel Stadion the first energy self-sufficient stadium in Europe, adding it is considering a new retractable roof to enhance the venue’s ability to stage events throughout the year.

The announcements were made as the City detailed the interim results of a study that was commissioned in the spring to assess further investment in the stadium, which it owns and operates. These results show that while the current listed roof and main structure of the stadium can be used until at least the mid-2060s, improvements can be made elsewhere.

In 2024, the City said a photovoltaic system will be built on the roof to cover the stadium’s electricity consumption all year round, adding this will make the Ernst Happel the first energy self-sufficient stadium on the continent.

The planned photovoltaic project, expected to cost between €10m (£8.7m/$10.5m) and €12m, will be one of the largest rooftop systems in the Austrian capital with an annual yield of 4,377 MWh. That is around 800 MWh more than the energy currently required for the stadium. 

The excess energy is planned to be used for the adjacent Stadionbad swimming pool. In the future, the City said heating and hot water will be supplied from geothermal probes and collectors, as well as from groundwater.

Ernst Happel Stadion first opened in 1931, receiving renovations in 1986 and 2008, and the option of developing a new stadium to replace it has been dismissed. “A new building was never an issue,” said City Councillor for Sports, Peter Hacker, at a press conference.

“That’s not possible because the Ernst Happel Stadion is a listed building – we can’t magic that away. But we can develop it further, it’s not a museum.”

With this in mind, the City has said the addition of a retractable roof is being considered to improve the stadium’s revenue generating capability. The Ernst Happel is the main home of the Austrian national football team and also host matches for the city’s clubs in UEFA competitions. However, income from sports events is said to be minimal with concerts currently accounting for 93% of annual revenue.

The future of the Ernst Happel Stadion is set to be debated through a consultation process including the Austrian Football Association (ÖFB), clubs and event organisers. This is expected to run through to the end of 2024.