Briskeby Arena - History - Arena


By 2001 NFF was in the process of implementing new stadium requirements in the top leagues, and Briskeby would no longer be permitted to be used in the top tier. Ham-Kam entered an alliance with Totalprosjekt—an real estate development company working on Lillestrøm's Åråsen Stadion—who presented a concept to finance a new venue: The municipality would transfer property to a limited company jointly owned by the municipality and the major sports clubs, the real estate would be re-regulated to increase their value, and the company would use this capital to build a new professional and a new recreational stadium. Parallel with this, a municipal commission made a report that recommended a consolidation in the number of venues in town and the conversion of gravel and grass fields to artificial turf. The commission recommended that a new professional football venue be built either at Briskeby or Hamar stadion.

Hamar Sportsanlegg (HSA) was established in 2003 to execute the plan. It was owned 34 percent by the municipality, and 22 percent each by Ham-Kam, Hamar IL and Storhamar Dragons. In 2004, Storhamar's share was transferred to Hamar Olympiske Anlegg, a municipal company which owns Vikingskipet Olympic Arena and Hamar Olympic Amphitheater. A report estimated the technical value of Briskeby to NOK 6 million, while the sales price of the lot was estimated at NOK 30 million. The municipal council voted on 18 February 2004 to transfer the ownership of the two stadiums to the new company. Ham-Kam rented the venues from HSA, with HSA's deficit for the first four years being covered by the municipality. Of the NOK 20.8 million in value transferred to the company, NOK 14.5 million was paid by HSA taking over the municipality's obligation to build a new athletics venue should Hamar stadion be closed, and NOK 5 million was debt.

In October 2004, Totalprosjekt presented the concept Skibladner Stadion, which would have been located on Tjuvholmen, a peninsula which sticks out into Mjøsa. In addition to a 9,000-seat stadium, the project included a cultural center with an 800-seat auditorium and a 22-story hotel. However, Tjvuholmen is a popular recreational areas and a process to regulate the area as such had just been completed. The location would also cause problems for the railway, who wanted to expand Hamar Station. The Tjvuholmen project was rejected by the municipal executive committee on 8 December, and on 16 March 2005, the municipal council voted to continue working on a new venue at Briskeby. This caused Totalproject to leave the project.

In 2004, Biong Arkitekter was contracted to design the stadium, with Byggeråd as structural engineers. Five proposals for Briskeby were launched, estimated to cost between NOK 61 and 150 million. Three of them retained the current alignment and would give a capacity of between 8,800 and 10,200 spectators, and two of these again contained commercial and residential properties within the stadium complex. The two other proposals involved turning the pitch 90 degrees, which would give the least encroachment on neighbor properties. The residents' association demanded that an impact study be made and that more specific plans be presented before municipal approval. The municipality concluded that neither were required. The municipal council passed a regulation plan on 1 February 2006, which involved building a 10,200 seat venue, but with the smaller of the two possible commercial property sizes. The residents' association appealed to the county governor, who reject the appeal on 1 September.

At the time NFF awarded an annual license to clubs which permitted them to play in the top two divisions. This included a series of criteria that the home venue needed to meet. As Briskeby was severely substandard to the criteria, Ham-Kam was required to apply for annual exemptions. These were only awarded to clubs who were actively working on upgrading or building new venues. If an exception was not granted, the club would either be relegated to the Second Division (the third tier), or would have to play their home games at an approved stadium in another town.

In December 2006, HSA sold Briskeby to a new company, Briskeby Gressbane AS (BG), which was owned 50 percent each by Ham-Kam and HSA. Another company, Briskeby Eiendom 1 AS (BE1), was established and owned 66 percent by HSA and 34 percent by BG. The latter was also given 50 percent of the shares in Hamar stadion. BG was non-commercial and was to own the stadium itself, while BE1 was commercial and was to rent out the commercial property. The two shared board, managing director and accountant. In May 2007, NCC was awarded the contract to build the new venue by BG and BE1. Although NCC was NOK 8 million more expensive than the cheapest bid, they offered four months shorter construction time. Briskeby's lot needed to be expanded, which was done by purchasing neighbor lots for NOK 34 million. Hamar stadion and the neighbor lot Fuglsetmyra was sold for NOK 295 million in June 2007, of which NOK 9 million was paid to BG and another NOK 175 million was a guarantee which would paid after the lot was re-regulated.

Construction was financed through a loan of NOK 218 million from Handelsbanken, which was secured on the revenue which would be generated from the sale of Hamar stadion and Fuglsetmyra. However, the bank was not willing to lend money secured on the basis of sales price of Hamar stadion being based on the re-regulation of the lot. The municipality was pressed on time by the possibility of NFF denying Ham-Kam the right to play at Briskeby. Hamar Energi Holding AS (HEH), which owns Hamar Municipality's share of Eidsiva Energi, had large assets. Both HEH and BE1 had Hans Kolstad as chair, who proposed that HEH could issue a guarantee of NOK 75 million for BG and BE1—which was issued in September 2007. This allowed construction to start, but the project was still under-financed by NOK 50 million. HEH therefore issued another guarantee the same month, for NOK 58.75 million. Because of delays in the regulation work, HEH issued another two guarantees, NOK 60 million in March and NOK 25 million in June 2008.

In August 2007, the stadium was planned built in three stages, with a combined budget of NOK 156.6 million. The first stage would involve the northern and western sides and cost NOK 78.4 million, the second stage would involve the eastern side and cost NOK 43.0 million, while the third stage would involve the southern side and cost NOK 35.1 million. After construction started, BG changed two specifications, moving public rest rooms from the basement to the ground floor, and changing the angle of roof. Both of these gave increased construction costs and alteration of the architectural design plans.

During this entire period, BE1 was insolvent. The bank therefore required that the entire sales price of Hamar stadion be transferred to BG, even though NOK 50 million was to go to the construction of Børstad Idrettspark (BIP). Therefore, Hamar Municipality decided to finance BIP to secure sufficient funding for Briskeby, essentially subsidizing Briskeby with a further NOK 50 million. In 2007, BG paid NOK 3.4 million in compensation to Ham-Kam for lost ticket sales during the construction time and for the club house, which would be demolished.

In 2008, Ham-Kam tried to sell the naming rights of the stadium for between NOK 5 and 8 million per year, but neither of their main sponsors, Eidsiva Energi and Sparebanken Hedmark, were interested. The first stage of the stadium opened on 10 August 2008, after which further construction was terminated. Stage one cost NOK 92.5 million to build and NOK 19 million for purchase of real estate. By April 2010, BG had combined negative assets, debt and received grants of NOK 240 million. Of this, NOK 78 million was written-off bad debts to BE1 and NOK 19 million was purchase of lots. On 25 September 2009, Hamar Municipality bought HSA, BG, BIP and BE1 for NOK 73,000. In December 2009, the municipality increased the share capital in BG with NOK 16 million and in BE1 with NOK 32 million.

With then opening of the venue, Ham-Kam rented 2,000 square meters (22,000 sq ft), consisting of 1,300 square meters (14,000 sq ft) of lounges and 700 square meters (7,500 sq ft) for its offices, for which the team played NOK 2 to 3 million per year. In the 2010 season, Ham-Kam played in the Second Division, resulting in the entire VIP area remaining unused. Artificial turf was laid on the stadium in August 2011.

In August 2011, an investigation of the HSA affair was initiated by the municipality, with the investigation costing NOK 7 million. The report concluded that a large number of illegal action had been taken in the process: HSA had used money reserved for sport for commercial development; irregular executive work in HEH and lack of correction were conducted after errors were discovered in 2007; important instructions from the municipal council were not followed; illegal executive work was undertaken in the holding companies; BE1 did not file for bankruptcy after it had lost its equity; the use of an unnecessarily complex company structure; violation on the laws of public sector procurements; violation on European Economic Area law on public grants; expensive consulting contracts, without tender, which gave the consultants too much influence on the process; and that the board composition in the companies was in violation with good corporate governance practices.

Read more about this topic:  Briskeby Arena, History

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