LASK new home set to glitter Linz skyline



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Stadium in Linz Austria ready Image: Pertlwieser

Work on the brand-new Raiffeisen Arena of the Austrian professional football club LASK will open this February as the fifth-largest stadium at Linz in Austria. The pre-opening is slated for February 19th.

‘linza.at’ stated that demolition work on the old Linzer Stadium began in January 2021 – and now the new Raiffeisen Arena is almost complete and all set to get off the ground.

Linzer Athletik-Sport-Klub, commonly known as Linzer ASK or simply LASK, is an Austrian professional football club from the Upper-Austrian State capital Linz. It is the oldest football club in that region, and plays in the Austrian Football Bundesliga, the top tier of Austrian football.

The 7,870-capacity Waldstadion, currently known as the Raiffeisen Arena for sponsorship purposes, is a multiuse stadium in Pasching, Austria. It is used for football matches and is the home ground of the Austrian association football club FC Juniors OÖ. The Austrian Bundesliga club LASK Linz will use the stadium until their new stadium is complete in 2023.

The LASK President, Siegmund Gruber, stated that despite few hurdles, the construction work of the venue has largely gone off smoothly – “We had to work against tight deadlines and adjust schedules.”

The new LASK stadium boasts 20,234 seats, divided between the upper and lower tier. Internationally, the capacity stands at 18,011. There will be 4,500 standing spaces available on the grandstand, which can be converted into 3,000 seats for international games. Unlike the rest of the stadium, the fan stand will have one rank. However, the upper tier should initially be blocked in league games to enable around 12,000 spectators to find more elbow room.

In 2019, the LASK’s bid to build the stadium at Pichling (Austria) near a lake failed to take off. The local population resented the move and it also ruffled the feathers of conservationists. Finally, the club settled for building the stadium at Linz.

Gruber and his team preferred the Pichling site and also the Haid site was being considered.

Put in Gruber, “Every location comes in with its set of advantages and disadvantages. At the end of the day, we are happy that LASK will be able to play in Linz again.”

Gruber and his team braced up to problems which came along their way while the venue construction work was on – COVID-19, pinching inflation, supply chain problems, lack of building materials, and yawning delay in delivery of goods.

The LASK President said that they took up the gauntlet instead of sitting back and wondering – “COVID-19 caused huge supply chain and production disruptions and the Russia-Ukraine war further added to our problems. The Ukraine war has led to the rise in the price of building materials by 50 percent. The final billing will be done once the project is complete. A clear picture will emerge then as to what extent the above factors have affected us.”

‘linza.at’ further stated that the State of Upper Austria has picked up the tab of the new Raiffeisen Arena by contributing 30 million euros, but compared to cultural buildings such as the music theater (186.4 million financed by taxpayers’ money), the above amount is still less.

Gruber admitted that when it comes to funding, the sports venue sector still gets less money when compared to the entertainment sector. However, he was quick to add that the State of Upper Austria in general, and the City of Linz in particular, is “lucky that the Government has started investing more and more on sporting infrastructure in recent years. However, I would like to see even more capital being injected into the sports venue sector.”

He said that the City of Linz “cooperated totally” on facilitating smooth completion of the project and made it clear that the new Raiffeisen Arena has been built with the main objective of hosting international soccer shows.

Added Gruber, “Now that LASK will have a spiffy venue to boast, we will also aim to occupy the top slot of Austrian Bundesliga and give the giants FC Red Bull Salzburg a run for their money.”

The Red Bull Salzburg is one of the most successful teams in Austrian football, having won more than 10 Austrian Bundesliga titles and several Austrian Cup trophies.

He informed that the club has sold around 4,500 subscriptions without boxes and business club visitors – “Together with the Business Club and the double pack tickets, which we will be launching shortly, we will be able to attract more fans. We will ensure that the new arena is able to provide fans the most enriching experience on a matchday.”

Gruber concluded by stating that what drives him is “working for LASK and fan criticism is something which does not ruffle him.”

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