The Austrian newspapers NEUES OESTERREICH, WELT AM MONTAG and EXPRESS celebrate the national football team of Austria’s decisive 3-0 defeat of visiting Spain the day after the record-setting friendly international match at the Praterstadion in Vienna. (buecher-ernst.com)
The Praterstadion was used consistently throughout the war for military purposes by the Nazis. Among the arena’s other functions included soldiers’ barracks, staff headquarters for strategic planning, supply depot and even, sadly, detention center. As a result of this usage, the athletic facility was targeted and bombed repeatedly as part of the Allies’ overall air campaign against the Nazi war machine.
After suffering extensive damage from the aerial onslaught, the football ground was completely renovated and, by 1956, significantly enlarged to allow for more spectators than the original construction figure of 60,000. At this time, four giant masts for floodlighting were installed, as well. Capacity-wise, the Praterstadion now stood in the company of Europe’s other giant football grounds of the era such as London’s Wembley Stadium, Madrid’s Estadio Santiago Bernabeu, Moscow’s Grand Arena of the Central Lenin Stadium or Leipzig’s Zentralstadion.
In the mid-1960s, another renovation project which converted standing-room area into conventional seating took the arena’s overall capacity back down to 72,200 — but not before a milestone that can never be broken was reached.
On October 30, 1960, an enthusiastic crowd of 90,762 showed up at the Praterstadion to take in the international friendly involving the highly-regarded visitors from Spain including the legendary goal-scorer ALFREDO DI STEFANO of Real Madrid.
Perhaps inspired by the show of partisan support in the capital city, Austria, skippered by midfielder GERHARD HANAPPI of SK Rapid Vienna, triumph 3-0 in the memorable match.