Schwäbisch Hall: Spectators are slowly returning to the German Football League games

Axel Streich, PR Director for the Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns, emphasizes that a game must be a family event to attract fans to the stadium.

As it was for the sports world in general, the year 2020 was difficult for German American football, and also like many other countries the season was canceled due to the pandemic.

Thing have changed in 2021.

After a long wait, American football has returned to Germany and the supporters have returned to the stadiums. In normal times, the Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns’ games average about 2,200 spectators, so it has been unusual, even for Axel Streich, to see almost empty stadiums.

“Right now, due to corona, we only have about 100 spectators. It draws a different game and a different feeling in the stadium. It differs in several regions, how the supporters can enter. At our games the fans can only enter with a negative test, but we also welcome those who are vaccinated. Wearing a mask is only necessary, when a person leaves his or her own seat. Nevertheless, the most important is that we are back on the field again.”

Axel Streich has been with the Unicorns almost since the beginning and witnessed how the team has grown and the how more and more fans have become interested in American football. As he mentioned, there is a wide spectrum of people who visit the game, from 20 to 50 years old

“Our supporters can make big noise. There is also a small group which brings its drums and makes the rhythm for the games. Our fan base started out as a small group. Year by year, more and more people were interested. It was a slow process. However, some people’s interest is only for a short term. Success is one thing that keeps the supporters beside the team. The other is to make the games a family event. We have to organize something to keep the spectators in the stadium because an American football game’s duration could be up to three hours. These two go hand in hand: success and social events.”

However, during the pandemic, the teams did not lose the connection with their fans. According to Streich, there are not that many organized fan clubs in Germany. But the Unicorns players could always count on their fans, despite Schwäbisch Hall having a population of only 40,000 people.

“The unity between the team and the fans is very important. They support the clubs and for that we have to keep a strong bond with them. Perhaps, the positive outcome of the corona is that we stood stronger. However, there are still teams which have to develop their fan base. The earlier mentioned social event philosophy can give a great push to this. Moreover, to increase the numbers the media coverage should be greater. It is important to reach not just the locals, but the whole country through tv or Facebook and other social media platforms. Besides the games, the fan base of a club can only grow bigger over the media. The teams can become overregional this way.”

The Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns became CEFL champions recently in Innsbruck and are currently unbeaten (2-0) in the German Football League. Their next game is on July the 3rd against the Stuttgart Scorpions at home, which can be visited up to 1500 spectators.

László Makranczi is a radio reporter, announcer and American Football journalist in Hungary. He lives in Debrecen and works for the Hungarian American Football Federation. Studied at the University of Debrecen, got a master’s degree in American