The future of Helsinki Hall, the largest concert venue in the Helsinki metropolitan area and a major sports field, is in the dark as the Russian shareholders of the company that owns the arena rose to the Western sanctions list. As a result, the Finnish event organizers have suspended cooperation with the arena operator.
Until last week, the venue was called the Hartwall Arena as part of the marketing of its main sponsor, beverage maker Hartwall. The company ended its cooperation with Helsinki-Hall last week and removed signs from the building.
Event organizers who have made reservations for the arena are now looking for alternative venues.
In addition to hockey games, the 13,000-seat arena was scheduled to host two heavy metal concerts in April, followed by Cirque de Soleil. Eric Clapton, Björk and Dua Lipa in June.
The mayor of Helsinki hopes for a transfer of ownership
According to the mayor of Helsinki Juhana Vartiainen (NCP) says the city needs to consider, possibly in cooperation with the state, how the arena could be reopened.
"There is no trade with the Russians on the sanctions list. At this stage, we can only ensure that the hall pays its taxes and fulfills its obligations," says Vartiainen.
One option could be to change the owner of the hall, but according to Vartiainen, it may not be possible under current legislation if the owners are on the sanctions list.
"For example, my understanding is that a forced sale could occur if Helsinki Hall does not pay its debts," he continues.
According to Vartiainen, it would be good if the arena were transferred to Finnish or other ownership in time so that operations would be possible without sanctions. However, he does not see the city of Helsinki as the most suitable candidate for a new owner.
"It would be best if the owners were strong private organizers of events, concerts and sports. They know how to manage such resources more effectively," he points out.
Helsinki may lose events
Closing the arena is a great loss to both the public and the business.
"This can have a negative effect on what kind of event host city Helsinki can be like. Unfortunately, some events may move out of town," The guard points out.
Replacement venues for smaller events and concerts are now being sought in smaller arenas, such as the old Helsinki Ice Rink and the Espoo metro arena, which can each accommodate about 8,000 spectators.
"Demand has clearly increased. So far, four events have been postponed, but there are many more inquiries and reservations," says Tom Kivimäkiwhich manages the foundation that maintains the Helsinki Ice Rink.
Source: The Nordic Page