& Finance - Friday 8.11.2002
Group to build multipurpose arena in
Arena Holding Company, a part of the Jokerit Group, will
today open its 15,000 seat multipurpose arena in Hamburg.
The company will not settle for just celebrating the
accomplishment. At the turn of the year it plans to start
building another identical arena in
Harry Harkimo, the Jokerit Group CEO, explains
that his company has won the bidding contest for the
building of the arena. Next week Harkimo will travel to
Stuttgart to close the deal and to negotiate some final
Harkimo believes the building of the Stuttgart arena will
prove to be "a very good business move".
to Harkimo, the arena built in Hamburg will act as
the company's calling-card in Central Europe. It proves
that the Finnish enterprise can successfully execute such
construction projects abroad.
"Of course the Hamburg arena will also generate profit,
but the conditions in Stuttgart are definitely better, as
there the city is to pay for the construction of the
entire building. The city of Hamburg merely donated a
site for the arena."
The concept of the Stuttgart arena is identical to that
of Hamburg. The drawings, the structures, and the stand
layout are all exactly the same. Only the exterior facade
as well as the décor will be slightly altered to
give the impression it is a different structure
"I guess you could say we are the McDonald's of the arena
construction business", Harkimo laughs.
first multipurpose hall was Helsinki's Hartwall Arena
completed in 1997. Harkimo adapted influences for his
business venture from North American models.
Harkimo took advantage of Finland's ice hockey craze,
incorporating it with an all-around entertainment centre
that would entice corporate clients as well. The Arena
was completed with restaurants and shops, the concession
rights of which were sold to different retailers. The
Hartwall brewery bought the name of the arena, plus the
exclusive right to sell beer in the premises.
The selling of corporate boxes further financed the
constructing of the arena.
"Hartwall Arena has generated profit right from the
start", Harkimo testifies. According to Harkimo the
secret of success lies in the fact that the same company
has all the threads in its hands. The Jokerit Group built
the arena, owns its main tenant the Helsinki Jokerit ice
hockey team, co-owns the Lippupalvelu ticket retailer
chain, and owns the arena's catering services, just to
name a few.
to Harkimo the building of the first arena was a
tiresome exercise, and one he thought he'd never want to
go through again. Only afterwards did he think of hiring
a couple of people to document and conceptualise the
whole process. This project was promoted by the National
Technology Agency, Tekes.
On his computer, Harkimo demonstrates the use of one of
the fruits of this conceptualisation: a database
containing all the phases of the construction process.
The whole chain of events related to building such a
centre has now been merchandised, including the planning
and construction phases, as well as the actual running of
As a specific example, Harkimo punches up on screen the
GSM base station requirements for such an
The purpose of the conceptualisation is to minimise
expenses. The Hartwall Arena has a permanent staff of 18,
whereas Stockholm's Globen employs over one hundred
people. "When needed, we hire outside help", Harkimo
company has no real competitors in Europe. That gives
him a strategic advantage in all the bidding contests.
Harkimo does not see the billionaire Philip
Anschutz as a competitor. Anschutz recently decided
to build a multipurpose arena in Berlin.
"We have agreed that he builds the arenas in Berlin and
London. The rest of Europe is ours", Harkimo
Harkimo's company has acted as a consultant in several
arena projects across Europe. The Hamburg project was the
first one outside of Finland in which the Finnish company
acted as sole contractor. This was due to a bankruptcy of
the German partner, contracting concern
Harkimo denies there are risks involved in the arena
business. He firmly believes the Hamburg venue will also
be a success. The corporate boxes are rented out on a
yearly basis, and the name of the arena has been sold to
Color Line, which is the largest cruise ferry line in
According to calculations, 120-130 events are required
annually to keep the running of the arena profitable. So
far, some 80 events have already been booked for the
first half of the year.
in HS International Edition:
boss Harkimo exports the Helsinki Arena format