Cost of Helsinki Olympic Stadium revamp surpasses projections

The total project cost of the extensive renovation and refurbishment of Helsinki Olympic Stadium has been revealed, with officials stating increases in construction costs and “several surprises” have resulted in it coming in around €100m (£89.1m/$121.7m) over its originally intended budget.

Re-inaugurated in August, the Olympic Stadium underwent a significant transformation. The Finnish capital now has a multi-purpose stadium which meets the requirements of large-scale international events. The project also saw voluminous new spaces and facilities added to the Stadium, in particular underground.

The contract on the maximum price of the Olympic Stadium renewal project was originally signed in 2014, and at the time stood at around €200m. The City of Helsinki, the project’s builder-developer, has now confirmed the final total cost amounted to €336,873,000.

In a statement, the City and the Olympic Stadium said that when the original contract was signed, the so-called tender price index, or the increase in building costs, was not included as an element of the financing plan. They added: “In the years 2015-2020, the construction sector saw a particularly strong upswing, causing a continuous increase in labour and material costs.

“Several surprises were encountered in the renewal of the meticulously protected building, and the work proved to be far more demanding than expected and envisioned during its careful planning. Examples of such new factors were the more extensive and demanding rock quarrying and reinforcement work, replacement of structures with moisture damage, as well as additional concrete structure work both in the new and the refurbishment segments.”

Stadium director Ari Kuokkanen told TheStadiumBusiness.com in September how one of Europe’s most iconic Olympic stadia had been given a new lease of life thanks to the major redevelopment, making it the crown jewel of Finnish functionalism.

First inaugurated in 1938, the new-look Helsinki Olympic Stadium reopened on August 22. The four-year renovation project, financed by the city and state, means the stadium now has a new seated capacity of 36,300, with 50,000 spectators being able to attend concerts.

In its statement on the final budget, the City and Stadium added: “The renewed Olympic Stadium is in daily use of the Helsinki inhabitants and visitors, and operations have been launched within the restrictions dictated by the need to prevent the spreading of the COVID-19 virus.

“The renewed Olympic Stadium opened in August 2020 in the midst of an exceptional year. Irrespective of the particular and challenging health situation, the public has been very interested in the Stadium. There has been great demand for the event facilities, new visitor services and gyms and exercise spaces.

“Several sports events, concerts and other large-scale events are in the pipeline for the year 2021, and the years to come. The future events at the Stadium are estimated to generate about 1,150 jobs annually, with €132m of production revenue. The estimated regional financial impacts are €80m annually.”

Image: Kuva Stadion-säätiö/Wellu Hämäläinen