What is the temple of club handball?
“Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?” If Snow White were a handball fan in 2020, asking for the best handball arena, it would be a tricky decision for the mirror to make.
Which is the top venue in European club handball in terms of capacity, intensity, audience, atmosphere and noise? Here is a list of the top 11 arenas in the EHF Champions League and you can have your say via the poll at the bottom of the article.
11 - Sala Ioan Kunst Ghermanescu
Having an away match at CSM is never fun for any team in the DELO EHF Champions League, particularly since national hero Cristina Neagu arrived in Bucharest.
Big occasions, such as the matches against arch-rivals Györ cause mass hysteria for CSM fans, who come from around Romania and are famous for their heartfelt support.
10 - Dvorana Zlatorog
“Once Floriani, always Floriani” is the motto for true Celje fans, no matter, which players are on court for the “Brewers”.
The yellow wall in the stands is a brilliant example for long-term enthusiasm and a close relationship with the club. Travelling to many away matches, Celje fans have also initiated many close relationships to other fan clubs and celebrate the spirit of handball all over Europe.
9 - Hala M.O.S.I.R Legionow
The outstanding Men’s EHF EURO 2016 was a perfect example for handball fans of how fanatic Polish people are for our sport.
Although Kielce was not a venue at that championship, they have had more than enough occasions to display how special the Hala M.O.S.I.R Legionow can be. Always present to capacity and deafeningly loud, Kielce’s fans know exactly when their team needs them. The spirit of their home court is transferred whenever Kielce make it to Cologne, delivering the same brilliant atmosphere at the LANXESS arena.
8 - Les Arenes
When there is handball in Metz to be played, the whole region is thrilled. In terms of women’s handball in western Europe, it is difficult to look past Metz.
With an average attendance in Europe’s top flight of over 4,000 fans, the French record champions often sell out with 5,000 spectators for the biggest clashes, making it an unmissable experience.
7 – S.C. Moraca
If you love the buzz of a Balkan atmosphere, go to Podgorica. The two-time EHF Champions League winners are carried on the wings of their fans at home - and the handball-crazy Montenegrins are famous for travelling all around Europe to stand as one behind their “Lions”. The perfect example of the Moraca’s thrilling atmosphere is the 2012 final against Györ.
6 - Jane Sandanski
Macedonians love handball and they would support their teams to the end of the earth. The arenas in Bitola and the Boris Trajkovski Arena in Skopje, the home of the national team and previously Metalurg, are traditional fortresses, but with the investment in Vardar’s Jane Sandanski, the atmosphere climbed to new heights.
Vardar’s men and women teams had a new home - and the fans produced the ultimate atmosphere. “You do not understand any word of the coach,” is an often heard statement from guest teams.
5 - AUDI Arena Györ
When the new AUDI Arena was opened right before the start of the Women’s EHF EURO 2014, Györ knew that they had a new pearl.
At any top flight match, the arena is more or less sold-out, the Györ fans create an atmosphere which you are hard-pressed to find in any other women’s handball venue as their chants send shivers down the spine of anybody present in the arena.
4 - Wunderino-Arena-Kiel
New name, same crowd. With a capacity of 10,285 fans, the arena in Kiel is the second largest in Europe’s elite club competition below Arena Zagreb and the fact that all season tickets are sold-out years in advance proves the love for handball at the Baltic Sea.
When the ship horn is blown to start the team-line-up, the crowd goes wild for the 60 minutes of action.
3 - Veszprém Arena
Built in 2006 as a replica of the Zlatorog Arena in Celje, Arena Veszprem is the heart of Hungarian men’s handball.
Always sold-out, the fans have developed their only special choreography for the match day. The noise, the atmosphere, the “we-stand-as-one”-spirit cannot be seen and heard in a better way throughout Europe. Veszprém have a true fortress with honest support and when the fans start their march through Cologne you see what loyalty means, even abroad.
2 - Papp Laszlo Budapest
Since 2014, the women’s champions have been crowned in Budapest’s Papp Laszlo Arena and the story will continue for years to come.
Getting to Budapest means everything for the top women’s clubs and regardless how many fans accompany the non-Hungarian sides, they get a warm welcome there. But when Györ are on court, the atmosphere is intense with more than 10,000 fans delivering a thrill deserving of the pinnacle event in women’s club handball.
1 - LANXESS arena
It is the heart of European handball - since 2010, the EHF FINAL4 have been sold-out in Cologne, even in 2017-2019 without a German club present.
Fans from all over Europe arrive, not only to see handball but to celebrate it. When the fan masses from the clubs have gathered, it is always a loud, happy and friendly party. There is no other place which deserves to be called the “temple of handball”.
But what do you think? Vote for your favourite arena below.