February’s Winter Classic outdoor ice hockey event at Helsinki Olympic Stadium will be bigger than last year
Large area around stadium to be fenced off for supplementary activities
Next February’s “Winter Classic" open-air ice hockey game between the local rivals Jokerit and HIFK in the Helsinki Olympic Stadium does not plan just to fill the stadium with spectators.
More than three kilometres of temporary fencing will be set up around the stadium to define the area of a related event park.
“This time around the spectators will have twice as much space at their disposal compared with last February’s outdoor game”, says HIFK managing director Jukka Valtanen.
”Also the number of various sales outlets, restaurant personnel, security guards, and toilets will be doubled.”
In connection with last winter’s Winter Classic a survey was conducted, the feedback from which has now been used to address the most obvious problem-areas.
“The Olympic Stadium will be equipped with another giant screen”, says Valtanen.
“Also the much-desired rink sounds will be amplified for everyone to hear.”
At one stage the entire Winter Classic looked to be in danger of being called off because of the debate focusing on the stadium’s grass pitch and how it suffered from last February’s event.
Now, however, the football people have decided - not a little reluctantly - to move their early summer friendly matches elsewhere, and the ice hockey project has been given the go-ahead.
HIFK was able to commence the selling of tickets to the event five months later than planned.
By yesterday noon, 29,889 tickets had been sold. Around 7,000 tickets were still available.
How many spectators could an outdoor ice hockey game between HIFK and Jokerit attract in the wildest-case scenario?
“Based on last winter’s ticket enquiries, the 50,000 mark could be reached”, reckons Jokerit managing director Jarmo Kekäläinen.
The installation of the ice rink will begin at the start of the new year.
By the end of January the ice will be in a skateable condition.
The dismantling of the temporary structures will take place on the second week of February.
The HIFK-Jokerit Winter Classic will be played at the Helsinki Olympic Stadium on February 4th at 15:00. Five days later, Finland are scheduled to meet Russia in an international match at the same venue. Interestingly enough, sales for this event have lagged far behind those for the local derby.
The expensive transplantable turf originally reserved for the Olympic Stadium will remain in Austria.
Instead, Finnish transplantable turf will be used in the early spring to repair the damage caused by the February ice hockey event.
The entire grass pitch will be replaced in one go. Stadium Foundation managing director Maija Innanen will not find it hard to get rid of the old pitch.
“We have received numerous enquiries from citizens who are interested in purchasing a piece of the Olympic Stadium pitch”, Innanen explains.
“The Stadium Foundation will not get rich from selling the old pitch piece by piece, but it might be fun thing to do.”
The decision to use domestic transplantable turf was made after the footballers announced that they would play their early summer practice games elsewhere.
The laying of the domestic lawn turf will come with a total price-tag of EUR 100,000.
The price of the Austrian frozen turf, which would have had to be transported to Helsinki on freezer trucks, would have been many times greater.
In June 2013, FIFA World Cup qualifiers will be played at the Olympic Stadium. Then the grass pitch has to be in prime condition.
“We have agreed with the Football Association that on June 7th 2012 the condition of the domestic turf laid earlier in the spring will be examined”, Innanen explains.
“After that we can discuss whether to go for a domestic or imported lawn turf for 2013.”
Previously in HS International Edition:
Olympic Stadium to get new grass pitch (18.10.2011)
"Winter Classic" ice hockey project back on track after all (14.10.2011)
“Winter Classic” ice hockey may not be organised this coming season (12.8.2011)
Saturday-night hockey fever in the Stadium (8.2.2011)