Lappeenranta City Council decided on Monday evening that the city’s new ice rink will be located in Kisapuisto. Construction will begin in 2024–2025.
The decision is disappointing for SaiPa, who would have liked a new multi-purpose arena in the center instead of the Race Park. The current ice rink is also located in Kisapuisto.
– It’s no secret that from Liiga-SaiPa’s point of view, a better option would have existed. We saw the center so much better. It would have opened up opportunities for growth and activity while supporting the vitality of the city and the city center, SaiPa’s CEO Jussi Markkanen comments to Iltalehti.
SaiPa and its partners would have invested money in an ice rink in the city center and become a co-owner of the hall. The partners, on the other hand, were not interested in investing in Kisapuisto, about three kilometers from the center.
Markkanen emphasizes that he is pleased that the city council decided to invest in a new ice rink. However, rent may be a problem in the new Kisapuisto ice rink.
The club does not yet have precise calculations of the rent for the new hall, but an unofficial estimate based on a price estimate of around € 27 million is that the rent level would triple compared to the current one.
Markkanen said a week ago to South Saimaathat the club “should seriously consider whether it is possible to continue league hockey in Lappeenranta.”
– According to our economic calculations, such an equation is very challenging. We want to find the best solution for Liiga-SaiPa to be the main tenant in the new Race Park. This would secure the hall’s economic equation and the continuation of league hockey, Markkanen commented to Iltalehti.
SaiPa currently pays a hall rent of EUR 150,000-200,000 per year. According to estimated calculations, the price could therefore rise to EUR 600 000.
Liiga-SaiPa Oy announced on Tuesday that it will start the second co-operation negotiations of the year.
Request for deferral
Chairman of the Lappeenranta City Board and Premises Committee Risto Kakkola voted in favor of Kisapuisto on Monday. The votes were split 38–11.
The downtown area was not inspiring.
– The majority of the delegates see that since Kisapuisto is the ice sports center in Lappeenranta, it is a better option for the ice rink than the center, Kakkola commented to Iltalehti.
Several commissioners asked for the postponement of the hall decision on Monday, but the proposals were voted down. Kakkola thinks it’s good that the location is now locked.
– Now sit in peace and let the dust settle. We are starting negotiations with ice rink users such as SaiPan. We want to take this forward with good cooperation. We understand that SaiPa is important to our province.
Kakkola describes the hall rent as a negotiation issue that can be resolved.
Special twists and turns
The process related to the location of the ice rink has been colorful in Lappeenranta. The city hired SRV to look for investors in the downtown arena.
SRV contacted 12 parties. No investor was found, nor was SRV According to South Saimaa told which companies were in contact.
In the final meter of the hall, SaiPa got local investors who were ready to inject about one million euros into the downtown ice rink. Liiga-SaiPa itself was ready to invest about five million euros.
Speaking on behalf of the Central Hall, Chairman of the Coalition Council Group Joonas Grönlund raised a € 1.5 million support package per week.
Markkanen feels that the club has been heard.
– The council and the people of the city found it more sensible to make an investment in the Race Park than in the city center. That is what we respect. They have been chosen to make decisions for the best of the city. You don’t always have to agree.