Helsinki Olympic Stadium to reopen doors



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Helsinki Olympic Stadium re-opening Image: Olympic Stadium Helsinki & Wellu Hämäläinen

The Helsinki Olympic Stadium in Finland will officially reopen on August 22nd following extensive refurbishment work. The rehabilitation work has consumed a reported €350m (£317m/$418m).

The stadium, which hosted the summer Olympic Games in 1952, has been closed since 2016 for revamp work.

A televised opening ceremony will begin at 7.30 pm local time on Saturday, and stadium tours will then be made available to the general public. The stadium’s athletics track is set to open to the public from September 14th -19th.

The stadium’s existing architecture has not been tampered with during the renovation process, which has promoted the sustainable quotient. A number of underground spaces have been added to the stadium to make certain it can stage national and international events and become a year-round venue.

The stadium will host Helsinki Design Week from September 11th -13th and has also been pencilled in to stage the 2022 edition of the UEFA Super Cup.

The UEFA Super Cup is an annual super cup football match organized by UEFA and contested by the reigning champions of the two main European club competitions, the UEFA Champions League and the UEFA Europa League.

Stated Mayor of Helsinki Jan Vapaavuori, “The Olympic Stadium is one of Helsinki’s icons. Its extensive renovation work testifies to our City’s commitment to safeguarding its own history and identity. Especially during this difficult time, investments in events and experiences are important both for the entire event sector and for all Helsinki residents.”

“The renewed modern, functional and sustainably rebuilt stadium serves the people of Helsinki in many different ways and also serves as a builder of international appeal far into the future,” Vapaavuori added.

The stadium opened in 1938 and had been due to host the Olympics in 1940, but the Games were canceled as World War Two started. The stadium had a maximum capacity of 70,000 when Helsinki eventually hosted the Olympics in 1952.

After lengthy reconstruction the Olympiastadion in Helsinki is about to reopen. And Finns will be able to use the Olympic facilities for exercise!

The historical host of the 1952 Olympics was officially closed in 2016 for its largest redevelopment since the facility went on stream in 1938. The investment proved to be quite costly. The price tag was influenced by how sustainable and respectful of the original design Finns wanted the stadium to be. After all, it’s not just an Olympic icon but also an example of Finnish functionalism in architecture.

“I am convinced that its architects Yrjö Lindegren and Toivo Jäntti would be proud and content to examine the results of the refurbishment work now completed. The improvements allow us to make sure that the stadium is not only a monument of the past but also a part of the most heart-stirring Finnish sports and cultural experience in the future”, Annika Saarikko, Minister of Science and Culture commented on the inauguration.

In order not to alter the outer form of the stadium, instead of cantilevered roof structure, a simple and more discreet one was used, even if it means pillars being placed within the auditorium, obstructing view partially to some people (as is the case with Berlin’s Olympiastadion).

The new roof uses 3,000 tons of steel and its inner side has been decorated with over 10,000 m2 of sustainably sourced timber. This effort is in line with Olympiastadion’s historical wooden facade cladding.

Capacity of the stadium went slightly down because of the intervention financed by Helsinki and the Finnish Government. Instead of 42,062 people, the building can now accommodate some 36,200, although for concerts the crowd size will be able to reach 50,000. Much of the size reduction was caused by the selected seat model. Contrary to global trends, all regular seats are wooden, designed to match the historical benches, protected by the Building Protection Act.

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