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.