Design & Development

Arena project for Frankfurt deemed feasible

Featured image credit: HH Vision

The City of Frankfurt is set to press forward with plans to deliver a new multi-purpose arena on land adjacent to Deutsche Bank Park following the release of reports on the proposal.

The German city currently lacks a major arena, with the proposed new venue seen as a solution for Basketball Bundesliga club Skyliners Frankfurt and Deutsche Eishockey Liga (DEL) team Löwen Frankfurt, whose Süwag Energie Arena and Eissporthalle Frankfurt homes are now considered insufficient.

In July 2022, Frankfurt City Council announced it had selected a site adjacent to Deutsche Bank Park, home of Bundesliga football club Eintracht Frankfurt, for a potential new 13,500-capacity arena. The plot of land (P9) is currently used as a car park, with the Council at the time stating it would conduct an in-depth examination of its merits as a possible location for the construction of a multifunctional arena.

Mike Josef, then head of the sports and planning department at Frankfurt City Council, and now mayor of the city, has now released the studies into the proposed venture. He said: “After more than 20 years of discussion about the construction of a multifunctional arena in Frankfurt, we can make a fundamental decision in the autumn. The reports show that a multifunctional arena at the stadium is possible and makes sense.

“There are several reasons why we finally need a multi-purpose arena in the Rhein-Main area. Of the seven most important German cities, Frankfurt is the only one that does not have such a venue. This is an infrastructural disadvantage in the competition between the metropolises. Many important events that would be important for our attractiveness bypass the Rhein-Main area.

“We are more than a football city, so we have to improve the conditions for other professional sports such as basketball and ice hockey. The conditions for professional indoor sports are difficult, be it ice hockey or basketball. Both arenas – for the Löwen and for the Skyliners – are getting old. They are no longer up to date. They need to be renovated, converted or even rebuilt.

“In their current state, they are not easy to market. Without the appropriate framework, it will become increasingly difficult for both teams to stay in their leagues. This means that in any case, solutions will be needed for the outdated sports infrastructure in the professional sector.

“Large concerts, exhibitions or international sporting events such as European or World Championships cannot be held in Frankfurt. Concerts with up to 15,000 visitors are a particular attraction for the Rhein-Main area and are essential for the financing of a multifunctional arena.

“Planning permission for the construction of a multifunctional arena on the site was already created in 2006 as part of the stadium renovation at the time. For all these reasons, there is a lot to be said for a new multifunctional arena.”

According to Josef, the reports have shown that a multifunctional arena can be built on the planned P9 site. The transport infrastructure has been deemed sufficient for normal operation. However, if the stadium and the arena are to be used at full capacity at the same time, it has been ruled that transport must be improved.

The new arena, now with a proposed capacity of up to 15,000, is envisioned to host around 50 games per year for the Skyliners and Löwen. In addition, 65 concerts, shows or major congresses are planned, which are to generate the main income, as well as 10 other events.

A new arena is projected to cost around €250m (£210.9m/$268.4m) with the City stating that it is currently considered sensible for it to bear responsibility for construction itself, with the view of appointing a partner through a tender process.

Josef added: “I am pleased that we now have a very clear picture of the construction of a multi-purpose arena at the stadium. Next, in the autumn, we will present a report with the results of the expert studies and a resolution of principle to the magistrate and the city council. The facts are on the table. We can then decide.”

In March 2022, Josef presented a feasibility study by architecture and urban planning practice Albert Speer + Partner (AS+P) for the area.

Commenting on the latest developments for the scheme, Friedbert Greif, managing director of AS+P’s planning office, said: “The multifunctional arena at the P9 location, thanks to the possible synergies with the existing stadium infrastructure, including the already planned and existing connections and parking space capacities, the use of sealed areas and the existing planning law, meets the best conditions for a quickly implementable, innovative and sustainable arena and location concept with a special urban appeal.”

The latest announcement follows years of discussions over potential sites for a new arena in Frankfurt. In June 2019, plans were revealed for a new €300m project that would result in the development of the second largest arena of its kind in Europe. The project 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 was reportedly set to be privately financed by Canada’s Katz Group, which specialises in sports and entertainment and real estate development, and was said to be looking to operate the arena after its then targeted opening date of 2023. However, there has been no news on this scheme in recent years.

Meanwhile, French conglomerate Lagardère withdrew from plans to build a new arena in the Kaiserlei area at the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis.