City ready for new arena, proponents say
Supporters of the proposed multi-purpose arena in the city’s Ørestad district are pointing to the success of the recent world cycling championships as a signal that Copenhagen needs – and can support – a new, world class sporting and concert facility.
Although efforts to build the so-called ‘Copenhagen Arena’ have been underway for 12 years, politicians backing the new facility only cleared the hurdles to begin the necessary approval process this past summer.
“Copenhagen has just experienced the atmosphere and energy that springs from hosting an event like the [UCI Road] World Championship in cycling,” said city mayor Frank Jensen. “Our hope is that the new arena will attract other major sporting events as well as international concerts.”
The climax of the UCI Road World Championships was reportedly watched by 250,000 spectators.
The goal for the 15,000 seat facility is to attract sporting events like major international handball tournaments, as well as big-name concerts and Broadway-type shows. Currently, event organisers are left choosing between the 55,000-seat Parken football stadium, which can be too large, and the city’s numerous but less roomy venues, that are inadequate for the expected crowd numbers. Like Parken, the new proposed arena will have a retractable roof.
“We want a design that encourages organisers to choose Copenhagen for prestigious international events, and we want to give our citizens as well as visitors new experiences,” Jensen continued.
The tourism bureau Wonderful Copenhagen believes that the success of the cycling championships shows that Copenhagen is ready for a top-notch facility.
“Wonderful Copenhagen has pushed for a multi-arena in Copenhagen for a long time,” said the organisation’s managing director Lars Bernhard Jørgensen. “Recent years show that Copenhagen is a popular host city for international events. With a multi-arena, Copenhagen will have a needed facility for major indoor events – sports as well as music and culture – so we can expand Copenhagen’s position as an international host city.”
The 35,000 sqm arena will have space for bars, restaurants and other facilities designed to integrate with the surrounding neighbourhood. The goal is for the area around the arena to stay busy, even on those days when no major event is scheduled inside the hall. A new skating rink and public school are also planned in the immediate area.
The price tag for the proposed arena is one billion kroner, three times higher than the cost of the similarly-sized Jyske Bank Boxen in Herning, which opened last November.
Supporters of the new arena account for the higher cost by pointing to differences in architecture between the two facilities and the challenges presented by the relatively undeveloped area around the new arena site.
In recent years, acts like Lady Gaga, U2 and Bon Jovi have chosen to appear at venues in Jutland rather than in Denmark’s capital city. Some in Jutland believe a new arena in Copenhagen would affect business in cities like Horsens and Aalborg.
“If acts such as the Eagles, who played in Aalborg this year, chose to go to Copenhagen instead of coming here, tourism in Jutland would certainly suffer,” said Michael Hollænder, a concert promoter and tour bus operator from Aalborg.
The city of Horsens has also been a popular concert destination in recent years, and restaurant owner Hans Nicolaisen said a new arena in Copenhagen would definitely have a negative impact on his business – and his town.
“When I started my restaurant in Horsens 13 years ago, the city had a bad reputation,” said Nicolaisen. “Concerts by people like Bob Dylan and Bryan Adams brought Horsens some much-needed positive publicity. I can do as much business on the night of a big show as I can on 10 days of a normal month.”
He said Horsens is already losing shows to the new arena in Herning, and things will get even tougher if Copenhagen enters the mix.
But Herning restaurateur Jan Taulbjerg isn’t sure that a new arena in Copenhagen will affect his business at all.
“I don’t think it will have an effect on what happens in Herning,” said Taulbjerg. “Some things are meant to be in Copenhagen, and some are meant to be in Herning.”
Construction of the arena will be managed by a partnership created by the city in collaboration with property investment fund Realdania. Each partner will pay 325.25 million kroner to the new company to build the arena on land owned by city development firm CPH City & Port.
Two companies, AEG and Live Nation, are in the running for the chance to operate the new arena. Once the operator is chosen, an international architectural competition will be held to choose the designer.
Building work is scheduled to start next year, with completion slated for 2015.
Factfile | Area arenas
The multi-purpose Copenhagen Arena will seat 15,000. How does that stack up against other area arenas?
Jyske Bank BOXEN, Herning
Aalborg Energi Nord Arena
CASA Arena Horsens