Austrian Bundesliga football club LASK has announced the appointment of construction group PORR to develop its new stadium, with official groundbreaking scheduled for October 9.
The appointment of Vienna-based PORR, whose portfolio includes the likes of Klagenfurt’s Wörthersee Stadion, seemingly brings an end to a difficult gestation process for the Raiffeisen Arena venture.
The State of Upper Austria officially gave the green light to LASK’s plans for a new 20,034-seat stadium by announcing it would grant the project a €30m (£25.7m/$34.8m) financing package in November.
LASK unveiled plans for the new stadium, which had aimed to be completed by the summer of 2022, back in July 2020. Financial services company Raiffeisen Bank will hold naming rights to the stadium, which will be known as the Raiffeisen Arena. The company already sponsors LASK’s existing home, which is also known as the Raiffeisen Arena and has a capacity of 6,087.
Due to the size of the existing Raiffeisen Arena, LASK is forced to play European matches at Linzer Stadion, which seats around 21,000 fans. The new Raiffeisen Arena is set to be built on the site of Linzer Stadion and work was expected to begin on the project at the start of 2021.
The state’s €30m funding package forms part of a wider €1.2bn Upper Austria plan to secure and create jobs, and to stimulate the domestic economy. In February, media reports about the stadium project caused controversy following a letter in which former LASK vice-president, Manfred Zauner, claimed the cost of the venture had risen to €117m, instead of the originally projected €65m.
LASK has consistently rejected these claims and dismissed Zauner from the project. The project team was reorganised, with tenders and contracts that had already been placed partially withdrawn. The construction permit for the stadium was approved by the regional administrative court last month.
The remaining €35m is being financed privately through investors that Raiffeisenlandesbank Oberösterreich is handling. In the statement announcing the appointment of PORR, LASK said that despite the loss of time through the issuing of new tenders, the budget for the project has remained intact.
LASK said it will now aim to complete the stadium by February 10, 2023 at the latest and therefore play at least the entire second half of the 2022-23 season in the Raiffeisen Arena.
LASK president, Siegmund Gruber, said: “LASK and PORR are aware that the new stadium is both a flagship project as part of the Upper Austria plan with €1.2bn in investment by the state, and an important location in Linz. The Raiffeisen Arena will meet these requirements, both visually and through its additional offers.
“In view of the current order situation with all property developers, PORR is a partner for us that one could only wish for. We are convinced of their know-how in stadium construction and look forward to a successful cooperation.”
Alexander Altmüller, technical branch manager of PORR in Upper Austria, added: “We are proud to be part of this project of the century for LASK, Upper Austria and Linz, and to be able to present our entire range of services.”