PANSTADIA & ARENA MANAGEMENT SPRING 2013
ARENA WINNERS Sven-Åke Wikers from ArenaProjekt, answers questions about what goes into creating a good arena.
ven-Åke Wikers is a leader in the development of European stadiums and an experienced developer from the infrastructure sector. He has previously held executive positions and directorships in the costing, hotel and restaurant business, as well as been manager of the Swedish elite hockey team Malmö Redhawks. He has a background as a skilful concert and conference organiser and he is a former top-level athlete, all together making him a man with rare skills and insight into all the various components of a venue project. Sven-Åke Wikers runs the Swedish company ArenaProjekt, founded in 2004, which specialises in creation and design development of venue environments. So far ArenaProjekt has been involved in nearly 50 successful assignments, mostly in Sweden but also in other European countries. Sven-Åke Wikers, what is your view on arena-based European ice-hockey and its potential to create increased public interest and better revenues in the years to come? There certainly is potential. However, it’s important to deliver high-quality events, as the whole experience matters. TV takes visitors away from the arenas, so it is vital to create commercial opportunities attracting audiences. Better facilities, hockey leagues of more even standard and more events are keys to success. We need good leagues where the top players want to play. Eastern Europe has
succeeded with the KHL, but what is missing is a league with impact between KHL and NHL. National and international championships are both factors generating the need to upgrade old or build new arenas. What criteria are most important when creating the right venues for these events? It is important to understand the needs. The capacity created must be economically viable even after championships. Facilities could be more temporary and demolished at the end of tournaments. Or arenas could be built on a smaller scale in order to keep costs down. There never should be unused areas once a championship is over. Does the same rule apply to Winter Olympic Games as for ice hockey tournaments? Certainly. Unfortunately, a recent tendency is to regard constructions of arenas and signature buildings as the competition – instead of focusing on the sport competition. It is, for example,
not economically justifiable to spend unlimited amounts of money on arenas for Olympic Games without having a plan for subsequent use. The equation is: Calculate the subsequent need – in advance. Which countries will be involved in bidding for large events in the near future and how are they managing to solve the arena issue? Everyone is in the competition for events. One way of achieving success is to foster cross-border cooperation in order to meet the financial pressure. Several regions or countries may cooperate in sharing an event. In this way existing facilities often are good enough and the investments become manageable. What services can your company ArenaProjekt offer to stakeholders in terms of winter sports venues? Personally I have experiences as an active athlete and as a manager of ice hockey teams. It has taught me performers’ and visitors’ needs. I also have management experience in hotel, restaurant and event business as well
Submission for the design of France’s projected new national ice hockey arena. 32
www.psam.uk.com Sven-Åke Wikers.
Can you give examples of excellent and successful projects you have worked on? I planned the Kristianstad Arena, which turned out to be a really good facility, if only for 4,500 spectators. I have also been involved in the prestigious Malmö Arena facility for 13,000 spectators. Both were used during the World Handball Championship in Sweden in 2011 and are among the reasons I am now involved in Games in the City, Norway’s bid for the Winter Olympics 2022. In addition, I have recently presented a submission for the design of France’s projected new national ice hockey arena.
What is your advice regarding financing and planning of a new venue or an upgrade of an old one?
With regard to technical solutions, it is essential to understand the needs of the business. A client must be able to define what activities an arena needs to accommodate for the consultant to clarify requirements for technology solutions.
ARENA environment PROJEKT The decision-making process must be designed based on local and regional needs, and potential future events.
as knowledge in cost estimation and project calculating. ArenaProjekt can communicate with stakeholders in their own language and formulate feasibility studies, cost estimates, concept design and system documentation as well as workshop drawings for all types of venues and arena constructions. Overall, ArenaProjekt always delivers efficient and realistic solutions, straightforward and effective as a basis for clients’ decisions.
First of all, make an inspection of the existing facility. An arena facility only lasts 10-12 years. By that time the world, the technology and the needs have changed and the facility interior has become outdated. Renovation is never ideal and not as cheap as one might expect, compared to what you achieve. It always makes sense to compare reconstruction with new construction. My advice always is to invest in a feasibility study that includes both new construction and renovation/ upgrade, plus an LCC analysis (which is done all too rarely) for both options. The Life Cycle Cost (LCC) is as important as the investment cost.
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What should stakeholders and politicians consider here? They must gain an understanding of the scope and capacity of the facility and decide what kinds of activities and quality of events the arena will host over the years. Just copying an arena you have seen somewhere will not work. Every arena or stadium is unique.
What is, in your view, the major advantage of ArenaProjekt’s networkbased approach? For every new situation we use the most appropriate consultants regarding architecture, construction, fire prevention, etc., who all have interest and knowledge in designing sports facilities and a full picture of all details, aspects and parameters crucial to the success of a specific arena project. n
Games in the City, Norway’s bid for the Winter Olympics 2022.