Kaiserlei venue plans see-saw on


Frankfurt Kaiserlei Arena update Feb 2021 Image: Simulation MMF @Turkali Architekten

The Kaiserlei multifunctional arena project in Offenbach, Germany, has been in the works for more than 15 years now. It is hanging fire endlessly. The project was shelved and then a glimmer of hope floated in the form of the professional basketball club Skyliners Frankfurt who put fresh lease of life to the development with the support of the Bundesliga club Eintracht Frankfurt not so long back.

The latest development is that Gunnar Wöbke, Managing Partner of the Bundesliga basketball team Skyliners Frankfurt, presented the details of the planned arena at the Kaiserlei location on February 15th, 2021, during an online presentation.

The Skyliners Frankfurt, currently known as Fraport Skyliners for sponsorship reasons, are a professional basketball club based in Frankfurt, Germany. Their home arena is Fraport Arena. The club has played in the Basketball Bundesliga since 1999. Its greatest accomplishments were the German Cup competition title in 2000, the German national championship in 2004 and the FIBA Europe Cup in 2016.

Fraport Arena is an indoor arena that is located in Frankfurt, Germany. It is primarily used to host basketball games, volleyball matches, and indoor football matches. The arena’s seating capacity is 5,002 people for basketball games. Their home arena – which was originally named Ballsporthalle Frankfurt – went on steam in 1988. It has been the home arena of the Fraport Skyliners since 1999. The arena was renamed Fraport Arena after the Frankfurt International Airport obtained its sponsorship naming rights in 2011.

faz.net sources stated that during the presentation, which was a virtual version, Wöbke, who is also the Managing Director of the project development company, stated, “The excavators can roll when the politicians have decided and all building law investigations have been completed.”

If everything goes as per plans, the multifunctional hall – which is proposed to be named ‘Arena am Kaiserlei’ – could get off the ground on September 27th, 2025, for the 2025-26 seasons, and from then on it will be able to fit in 13,000 spectators for sports and cultural events.

Initial steps have not yet been initiated. After the failed tender last year, Wöbke and his team is presently waiting for the so-called handover of the circa six hectare property on the City limits, which belongs to the Foundation General Alms Box and is to be used for 60 years as a long lease.

Wöbke puts the construction time at 18 to 24 months and said that the arena’s price tag would come to around 150 million euros – if at all the project takes off.

In the same virtual presentation, architect Zvonko Turkali presented the plans for the arena and the surrounding areas. The centerpiece is the oval arena, which is to be built between the Main and the Oberräder Gardens on the Eastern City limits off Offenbach. The Fraport Skyliners will be the main tenants of the planned venue.

A statement sent out stated that “The arena is, of course, also open to the Löwen Frankfurt ice hockey team and other sports teams from the region as well as to national and international sporting events.”

‘The Lions’ roar

There is no love lost between the people associated with the ‘The Dome’ project (which is supposed to come up near the Frankfurt Airport in Germany and is Canada’s Katz Group’s dream project) and the Kaiserlei arena development.

The professional ice hockey team based in Frankfurt – Löwen Frankfurt (nicknamed ‘The Lions’) have come out in favor of the rival project ‘The Dome’ and has written a letter in this regard to the City Council on February 14th.

‘Arena am Kaiserlei’ plans

A venue reaps rewards only when it boasts full house major part of the year. Wöbke pointed out that which is why pop concerts and other cultural events will also take place in the planned Kaiserlei arena in the future, similar to the large halls such as the Lanxess Arena in Cologne (Germany) or the Mercedes-Benz Arena in Berlin (Germany).

Wöbke observed, “Numerous artistes who would like to perform in Frankfurt are currently moving to Mannheim or Cologne. We want them to come to Kaiserlei.”

faz.net sources informed that one hundred and thirty events are being planned to be held in the Kaiserlei arena annually, including 70 concerts, 50 sporting events and 10 other events such as general meetings and trade fairs. Parking spaces for 2,000 bicycles and 2,300 vehicles have been planned. Architect Turkali laid stress on the traffic plans of the mammoth project during the presentation.

To prevent the usual traffic snarls post-event, two exit routes have been planned in the direction of Frankfurt and Offenbach. Turkali also pointed out that the area was “well-connected”. For example, via the banks of the Main, the nearby S-Bahn (City rail) stop, the motorway – and even the Main River. The arena as a complete package could “build the bridge to Offenbach and bring economic boom to the entire region”, the architect observed.

Politics at play

Politicking has already started. The SPD Parliamentary group in the Römer had informed the coalition partners CDU and Greens last week that they are not open to the idea of a multifunctional arena at the Kaiserlei and preferred the ‘The Dome’ project instead.

It is to be seen whether the Kaiserlei arena plans see-saw will be on or finally the arena will see the light of day.

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