The Swedes just opened their new national stadium with a smashing 4:2 against England. But this venue has so many impressive features, it didn’t really need the win to be unique.
Plans for a new stadium appeared in early twenty-first century, when it was obvious that Råsunda would only get more outdated with passing time. Construction nearby was possible when masterplan for new centre of Solna was drawn in 2004. Discussions over the ground’s capacity and functions led to a clear, but extremely challenging vision.
Design work was carried out by Berg Arkitektkontor, which later merged with C.F. Møller (global giant Populous also played a role). Visually Friends Arena seems just too simple. But quality of the external cladding shows as lighting changes throughout the day and into the night – then the illumination system allows to flood facades in colours. Yesterday those were yellow and blue – not surprising for Sweden’s home opener. And while we’re at it, here you have the astonishing shot by Zlatan to enjoy once more. He deserves it.
And now back to the stadium again. In 2009 the stadium’s budget was estimated at SEK 2.3 billion, but later proved lower at 1.9 billion – to give a comparison, this made Sweden’s new national stadium cost twice less than Poland’s one in Warsaw. For this price Solna received a 51,000-seat stadium with three tiers for audience, retractable roof, one demountable stand and first ever air conditioning system inside.
Local football team AIK was given special attention as the anchor tenant. For domestic games with lower attendances the highest tier may be completely hidden behind curtains, allowing to avoid the feeling of too big stadium. Lowest tier on the north side was converted to terracing to meet fans demands, increasing capacity for domestic ties to over 54,000 and decreasing it back to 51,000 when all-seater mode applies.
Those are just some of the solutions implemented as months before opening the operator already had contracts for various football games, hockey matches, speedway grand prix, several giant concerts and a horse show.
Naming rights deal had been secured by Swedbank in 2009, but name changed in 2012 when the bank decided to promote its social awareness campaign, dropping Swedbank Arena for Friends Arena. The contract lasts until 2023.
Want to read more about Friends Arena? Please visit us on Friday to find out a lot more about it as StadiumDB.com interviews Adam Wycichowski, one of the architects (or should we say fathers?) of this stadium.