Design & Development

HNK Rijeka unveils ‘Return to Kantrida’ masterplan

Images: HNK Rijeka

Croatian top-tier HNL football club, HNK Rijeka, has presented eye catching plans for a new stadium complex as part of its long-running ‘Return to Kantrida’ venture.

The project put forward to the City of Rijeka is backed by a six-strong consortium comprised of: Black kite E&C Investment Fund, Fiume Kantrida Development, Teanna, ZDL arhitekti, Aestus development and Kamgrad. Between them, they are seeking to deliver an initiative dubbed ‘Multifunctional Complex Stadion Kantrida’.

HNK Rijeka has been playing at the temporary Stadion Rujevica since 2015 while it awaits redevelopment of the Stadion Kantrida, which first opened in 1913. Previous efforts to deliver on this goal included the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to develop a new stadium back in April 2019 with Chinese company Top International Engineering Cooperation (TIEC).

The new complex, which is expected to cost more than €100m (£85.7m/$107.8m) to deliver, is centred on three key elements. A new stadium with 12,000-plus seats will be located on the coastline, but rotated 90 degrees from the previously proposed location to be positioned in the north-south direction.

The stadium will fall in height from north to south as the project’s backers pledge not to impact on activities that take place on the shoreline. Around the entire stadium, due to the specific challenges of this location – a former quarry and the subsequent problems that arise due to drainage water, as well as rising sea levels – a kilometre-long canal, two metres wide and four metres high, will be built. 

In itself, this operation, a “big but solvable technical problem”, is expected to cost several million euros, with accumulated water to be drained into the sea. At night, when it is lit up in the colours of HNK Rijeka, the stadium is intended to resemble a ship with oars and an accentuated prow.

The second element will involve the development of a four-star hotel accommodating approximately 200 rooms, facing the sea. Finally, the complex is proposed to include three skyscrapers. Directly connected to the hotel, they will have 35 floors and be 116 metres in height.

The inclusion of these commercial elements is intended to generate profit for the investor, who will in turn build the stadium and hand it over to the City. It is hoped that work can commence on the venture in late 2025, with delivery expected in three to four years.

President of HNK Rijeka, Damir Mišković, said: “When we left for Rujevica, we promised that it was temporary and that we would return to Kantrida. What we have imagined is feasible, interesting and original. 

“Rijeka and Kantrida, with the implementation of our project, if it is judged to be the best, will receive new facilities and increased value of the entire locality. It will be a strong step forward into the modern age. 

“In itself, the combination of a superb football stadium and the three tallest skyscrapers in Croatia, along with the accompanying hotel and numerous public facilities, puts Rijeka on the map of immense visibility and attractiveness.”

Rijeka Mayor, Marko Filipović, added: “As Mayor, I am certainly very interested in Rijeka taking a step towards the position it deserves and should have with this project. I’m aware that this initiative will cause a lot of reactions. 

“That’s why I want to say clearly: yes, this is a project that will definitely change Rijeka, this is a project that will make it similar to other European and world cities that have made bold moves and therefore jumped ahead of others. A project like this will allow big matches to be played there again, but also to protect what makes up the spirit of Kantrida, which is especially important to me, because Kantrida is also my home.

“As of today, everyone knows that there is an ambitious and brave idea to return to Kantrida. I therefore wish the investors much success on the extremely demanding path that awaits them, which includes a public tender for an architectural solution and the selection of investors.”