Great car parks of Espoo

Cities tend to have a distinguishing feature, something that sets them apart from their rivals. Venice has canals, Barcelona offers weird looking Gaudi architecture, New York has sky scrapers. In Espoo – second biggest municipality in Finland, and home to Nokia headquarters – the main feature of the landscape is the car park. Multi-story, dirt-track, fenced off fields – they’re absolutely everywhere.

People live in Espoo because they want to pretend the Greater Helsinki conurbation does not exist, and that means they all have a car so they can get from place to place without interacting with anybody else. This helps make Espoo a disturbing suburban mix of cars, roads, fields and housing, with no centre and next to no public transport.

It’s not absolutely diabolical. They have a Veikkausliiga team, for starters, and they’ve done very well this year. They hope to get a new stadium soon, and by crikey they need it. Honka play at a Sunday league ground. They seem to have stolen the seats from a primary school and nailed them to benches, covering the stands with some plastic sheeting. You can see the priorities of Espoo decision makers by comparing the Länsi Auto areena – a hockey rink sponsored by, what else, a car dealership – with the Tapiola football ground:

Espoo's hockey and football facilities

Honka did well to hold Finnish Champions Tampere United (for another three days or so) till extra time, when they scored twice to get the win. The game was a bit dull, and Jonne Hjelm should have won it for TamU when he hit the bar, and again 5 minutes later when the referee inexplicably failed to give a penalty when he was scythed down by Ville Jalasto. The headline in HBL was ‘Honka win the wrong game’, referencing their 4-3 loss to TamU in the league on Saturday.

Honka now travel to Haka in the semi final next Wednesday, after playing IFK Mariehamn away in their final league game this Sunday. Honka can win the league if they beat the Ålanders and Inter fail to beat Jaro at home, but it could end up being another near miss for Mika Lehkosuo’s men.

The attendance was not announced, probably as it was so small, but it was swelled by one Tampere United fan from Moscow. Vladimir has followed the club for 4 years, since he bet on them and started playing Championship manager as TamU, and he made the trip to Espoo with 100 or so TamU fans. Here’s Vladimir with his post-match pint:

Vladimir the TamU fan


2 Responses

  1. Honka’s ground reminds me very much of AC Oulu’s Castren stadium. The latter holds several thousand but is basically a seats-on-scaffolding arrangement that can be (and has been) dismantled at a moments notice.

    The Raatti Stadium project (Oulu’s original premier outdoor sports facility) appears to have been put on hold again. It was due to be refurbished by 2010 but I really can’t see that happening now.

    With AC’s recent attendances figures in the low hundreds, it could be argued that the folk of Oulu don’t deserve a decent football stadium anyway.

  2. It was a wonderful day)))
    And I hope I will come for the beginning of Veikkausliiga season to Tampere.

    The article is quite interesting!!!!!

    See You, Egan!!!

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