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Vienna´s weekly European journal

Vienna Stadthalle – a hall catering to everyone

Archived article from: 
Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Vienna Stadthalle – a hall catering to everyone

Halle F outside
Halle F has become one of Austria’s most popular concert halls

It was opened in 1958 and originally served as a hall for sports events. With the concert of the Rolling Stones in 1965 it celebrated its debut as a multi-purpose hall. Today it is one of Europe’s must multi-sided and largest city event centres. Here we are referring to the Vienna Stadthalle. peeked behind the stage set to find out a bit more about what demands the stars make, what security measures are taken and how fanatic fans act.

Six halls with a total capacity of more than 20,000 visitors, up to 600 events a year, a staff of 150, a 250 meter long indoor swimming pool, an ice-skating rink, more than 50 years of experience and altogether more than 50 million visitors – these are the current figures that the Vienna Stadthalle is able to present as one of the most successful companies of Wien Holding. “Up to 1.2 million guests per year attend the events at the Vienna Stadthalle. A success also based on the diversity and multi-functional nature of the arena. From rock concert to opera, from Holiday on Ice to Masters of Dirt, from a European swimming championship to dinosaurs, from TV programme to hand ball tournament. Almost everything is possible at the Vienna Stadthalle,“ managing director Prof. Peter Gruber assures us.

Halle D inside
Peter Gruber
Mega-events have been taking place in Halle D for years; Peter Gruber, managing director

Back to the beginning
The success story all began with a municipal resolution, followed by an architectural competition, in which Prof. Roland Rainer – later Vienna’s top city planner – was selected and asked to design an event hall. The sports halls A and B were opened as early as 1957 and one year later the Eishalle (ice-skating hall) (Halle C) in which professional ice-skaters train year round, was opened.
The core of the Stadthalle
With Halle D Roland Rainer constructed Austria’s largest event hall. With a seating capacity for more than 16,000 guests, it is the central part of the event centre. In recent decades, countless stars from the international sports, culture and entertainment scene have appeared here before thousands of onlookers. Most recently Lady Gaga, David Hasselhoff, Pink and Kiss have drawn masses of people – some even dressed like stars – to the Stadthalle. At big events the guests usually arrive already in the morning of the day of the concert to try and get tickets for the seats closest to the stage. At the Tokio Hotel young people lined up at the entrance for several days prior to the concert. In such cases the management of the Stadthalle does its best to cater to these fans by offering them drinks and blankets.
What goes on back stage?
Back stage there is door and this door of course remains closed during concerts. What one finds behind is a veritable city in which people of different native tongues converse and organise perfect programmes. Makeup artists work on the stars, bodyguards keep an eye on the privacy of their charges and cooks prepare meals fort he crews. Over one of the doors the name of the main act of a given evening lights up. This is the door leading to the big star changing room, equipped with an entrance room, three rooms without windows so that paparazzi don’t even have a chance and two bathrooms. Here all of the stars’ wishes are fulfilled – with some demands such as food, Internet connection and sometimes a play-station being easier to meet than others. Now this does not mean that the really big stars do not have their idiosyncrasies. Lady Gaga, for instance, rented a yoga hall located near the Stadthalle for herself and her entire crew to prepare fort he concert. Even Hansi Hinterseer, a big chart hit, regularly fills Halle D. His hallmark: he donates the many teddy bears that the fans toss on stage during the show to children in need.

Halle F inside
Halle F offers visitors the highest standard of comfort

Security comes first
In such a large company security measures are part of everyday life. The doorman’s booth of the Vienna Stadthalle is manned round the clock. At night there are two doormen on duty, since one of them has to stand guard at the entrance while trucks arrive in the early morning hours delivering stage equipment, while the other one keeps watch over the entire building.  In addition, all of the spaces and the immediate outdoor surroundings of the Stadthalle are constantly monitored from the control headquarters by more than 50 cameras.

One big priority is the proper use of technical equipment and implementation of security measures during concerts. A small group of selected and specially trained staff members are appointed to be in charge of each event. Many musicians bring along their own stage. Most recently, Lady Gaga arrived with 28 trucks and 18 buses, which transported all the stage elements. In mounting the stage the Stadthalle staff members work closely together with a star’s crew. Some of them are familiar with the stage, while the others know the hall inside and out. Generally it is already known in advance how often a musician or a band will go back on stage for an encore. This is important because workers already begin to dismantle the stage when the star exits the stage. During a concert the security people – at the Lady Gaga concert there were three hundred of them – ensure that things go smoothly. Whoever violates the house rules with misconduct is asked to leave the hall and in case of a medical emergency prompt assistance is provided. The security regulations in Austria are stricter than in other countries. The Stadthalle’s success speaks for itself: In all of the years there has never been a case of mass panic or any other serious accident.

Stadthalle outside

The new, cosier Halle F
In 2006  the Halle F which can seat about 2,000 people opened. This show stage is particularly well suited for comedians, musical and concert performances. There are also renowned musicians who prefer this stage. Bryan Adams, for instance, is now only willing to appear in Vienna in Halle F, even though he would have no trouble filling Halle D. Here, however, he can actually see the responses of his audience. Shortly before his death, Roland Rainer gave his seal of approval to the expansion of his original hall, the design of Halle F by the two architects Dietrich and Untertrifaller. The architecture of the new hall hardly stands out from the old building. All halls can be used at the same time and thanks to the separate entrances the arrival of stars and their equipment do not affect the rest of the building. There is also Halle E, a small multi-purpose hall, which was added in 1994 and connected to Halle A, Halle B and Halle D. This most recent hall is used primarily for smaller fairs, company parties, conferences or VIP receptions.

The Stadthalle certainly does justice to the designation of “multi-purpose evsnt hall“. Music fans come by the droves just as the tennis, ice skating or cabaret lovers. The Stadthalle also offers children an appealing programme, which ranges from horse events, all manner of fairy-tale performances to the absolute evergreen for young and old, namely the “Holiday on Ice“.

Wiener Stadthalle
Hallen A bis F (Halls A to F)
15., Vogelweidplatz 14

Coming highlights:

Tuesday, 14 June to Saturday, 18 June 2011 – Halle F:
Michael Mittermeier “Achtung Baby! – Live ... das neue Programm” (Watch it, baby! – Live … the new programme)

Friday, 17 June to Sunday, 19 June 2011 – Halle D:
Baby Expo

Sunday, 19 June 2011 – Halle F:
Katie Melua

Tuesday, 21 June 2011 – Halle D:
David Garrett Rock Symphonies Tour 2011

Saturday, 6 August 2011 – Halle D:
Das Gipfeltreffen der Stars Kaufmann – Netrebko – Schrott (The summit of stars Kaufmann – Netrebko – Schrott)

Saturday, 10 September 2011 – Sunday, 18 September 2011 – Halle D:
Euro Volley 2011

Wednesday, 28 September 2011 - Sunday, 2 October 2011 – Halle D
La Donna – Messe für die Frau 2011 (Ladies’ fair 2011)