Rival arena project emerges in Frankfurt

Plans for a new €300m (£267.2m/$337.8m) project that would result in the development of the second largest arena of its kind in Europe have been met with scepticism in the German city of Frankfurt.

First reported by German newspapers Bild and Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ), the project is centred on the development of a 23,000-seat arena entitled ‘The Dome’ on land owned by Fraport, the transport company which operates the city’s airport.

The project will reportedly be privately financed by Canada’s Katz Group, which specialises in sports and entertainment and real estate development, and would look to operate the arena after its targeted opening date of 2023.

“We are absolutely in the fast lane with this project,” Bernhard Schmittenbrecher, spokesman for the project development company, told the hessenschau.de website. “We are ready, planning and financing are available, a traffic report is available, and if we have all the permits we can start immediately.”

However, Fraport is more circumspect with regards the current status of the project, with a spokeswoman adding: “The very first talks on this topic have now taken place, nothing more. Now it has to be examined what is legally feasible.”

The Dome is the latest in a series of proposed new arena projects in Frankfurt. TheStadiumBusiness.com understands a project that has stalled in recent years involving the City of Frankfurt and operator of the Commerzbank-Arena is gathering momentum.

Located in Kaiserlei, between Offenbach am Main and the main city centre, construction company BAM is said to have been engaged for the project with business plans being discussed and financing in the latter stages of being arranged.

Question marks have been raised over the legitimacy of The Dome project. The site itself would reportedly be troublesome from a regulatory perspective, while plans for Fraport to lease the land would likely necessitate a public tender process.

Fraport Skyliners and Löwen Frankfurt, the city’s basketball and ice hockey clubs, which could play in the new arena, have differing opinions about The Dome project. Gunnar Wöbke, managing director of the Fraport Skyliners, told FAZ: “Even if the land is awarded with a lease, this would have to be tendered before.”

Adding that The Dome project is “very unrealistic,” Wöbke said he continues to support the Kaiselei project. He said: “That has to be our top priority.”

Meanwhile, Stefan Krämer, managing director of Löwen Frankfurt, expressed his enthusiasm for The Dome proposal. Stating that the airport project would be beneficial from a transport perspective, he said: “The club needs a new arena as soon as possible, the location is secondary. We are convinced of the arena at the airport.”