Egan moans about Finnair stadium

I haven’t said anything about Finnair stadium before, although I think I’ve made it pretty clear which is my favourite Finnish football ground. The Töölö stadium has not really been on my radar, despite visits for the Armenia match and the HJK-TamU title decider in 2006. It’s just there, a nice enough place but not somewhere I spend a lot of time.

It was built in 2000, with Helsinki City Council owning 84.5% of it and Suomen Palloliitto and a management company holding the balance. Municipal ownership is popular in Finland, as elsewhere, but a new build like this is a brave strategy and deserves to be rewarded.
I have misgivings, though. I’ve shocked you, haven’t I? Complaing about something. Brifely put, it’s windy as hell. Considering it holds only 10,770 and is built for the prestige matches that are often played in Spring and Autumn, it was pretty daft to build a hole at the back of the stands where a wall should be. This allows draughts to enter and sound to escape, diminishing the atmosphere and making it colder than it needs to be. They have installed heaters though, as shown in the pictures. The implications for energy efficiency are a little worrying, but the atmosphere suffers more. The end stands are too far from the pitch, again making it more difficult to create an atmosphere. In the main stand, the railings obscure the near touchline.

That said, i wish more councils would build football stadia. I wonder if it makes a profit? It certainly has enough bars and bistros, and rented office space (admittedly to other members of the ‘Finnish football family’). I suppose the main point is that land in that part of Helsinki is very valuable, and knocking the sports facilities down to build apartments would make more money. That this hasn’t been done is evidence of a commitment to sport for all (the astroturf pitches surrounding the complex are mainly used by amateur clubs) that is impressive to these anglo-saxon eyes.

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4 Responses

  1. it’s “#!¤!*£@¤ annoying to see the natural grass pitch in perfect condition (from april to november, easily) next to our grand plastic stadium.

    I still can’t understand why the #”!#”¤$£@ they decided to replace the old crap artificial turf with a new one – just a year ago.

  2. The architect who designed the stadium was totally clueless.

    Sun light can’t enter the pitch and thus there can’t be a (natural) grass surface. There are no walls and so the wind blows through the ends, this leaves the stadium cold and without any acoustics..

    I heard that there was a plan to built some kind of make shift walls to tackle the problem with the wind, but the architecht vetoed this plan stating that it was “against her artistic vision”.

    I don’t kow whether I should laugh or cry.

  3. That’s what you get when you have architects designing stadiums who have no idea about the facilities or anything else at sporting venues. Not a surprise though keeping in my mind how many actual football stadiums have there been built from scratch in Finland…

    Maybe it was the easiest (and cheapest) option for the Finnish FA (or Pelleliitto/Pöllöliitto as they are affectionately known) just to hire some random architect who was able to present a visually impressive design for a new stadium.

    There are likely to be more than one expensive architect office specialized in sporting venues/football stadia but you can’t find them if you do practically no research (just guessing here, not stating any facts). Of course it’s easiest to hire your golf buddy’s son’s cousin’s nephew.

    Other than that I can’t understand why the main stand had to be two-tiered, yeah sure executive boxes or whatever in between need to have a good view… Still for me having the upper tier of the West Stand closed for the majority of games is just waste of space/facilities. That would be definitely be the place for best views to the pitch from anywhere at the Finnair Stadium.

    Typical Finnish way of doing things. When something exciting is happening in maybe once in 20-30 years, they (they as in those who make the decisions) screw it up.

  4. There’s book called “Finnair Stadium”, published right after the stadium was built so it’s mainly publicity but it does include the other designs considered.

    I found it quite amusing to learn that while building the east stand a natural spring was discovered, thus rendering the original plans of the roof useless. No wonder it’s so windy.

    HJKs centenary book “Tähtien tarina” is also a recommended read. Although endorsed by the club itself, it does tell about the things gone (and done) wrong.

    Quite a bit about the Finnair stadium and its notoriously bad grass is revealed, for example the fact that HJK coach Jyrki Heliskoski instructed his players to play the ball only on the few patches of grass that were growing at the time. Talk about home advantage.

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