Empty seats despite fireworks on the pitch
The first league game in the new West Stadium took place on May 10th 1977. Rapid emerged victorious over Austria/WAC courtesy of a late goal from Paul Pawlek that sealed a 1:0 win. A healthy crowd of 14,000 had witnessed Pawlek’s goal in the new ground, whose capacity extended beyond 20,000. Following the opening success, Rapid continued to deliver spectacular performances and exciting football, but the stadium struggled to capture the public’s imagination. Eleven days after the win against Austria/WAC, VOEST Linz were beaten by a score-line of 5:4 in an enthralling game. However only a disappointing 4,000 fans were present to celebrate Helmut Kirisits’ last minute winner. Even fewer turned up to see Rapid comfortably beat Sturm Graz 3:0, but the low point was arrived at two weeks later: a meagre 3,000 were in the West Stadium to witness the 11:1 demolition of GAK, in a match which saw Hans Krankl net an incredible seven times. Lots of records fell against GAK, records that still stand today.