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Saturday, May 21, 2022

Arena woes hit football club

Football club Stabæk is facing a move back to a run-down stadium in suburban Bærum after financial trouble at the relatively new Telenor Arena at Fornebu, and financial woes of its own, is leading to the loss of its lease.

Ambitions were high when Telenor Arena opened in 2009. Since then, it's suffered major challenges. PHOTO: Telenor

The pending move back to the Nadderud Stadium in Bærum illustrates how a dream quickly turned into a nightmare, both for Stabæk and the owners of Telenor Arena, which opened in 2009. The football club won a 40-year lease at the modern new arena, backed by ambitious club officials and a wealthy fan, Kjell Christian Ulrichsen.

Even though the arena’s developers got the land free from Bærum township and received support from an agency promoting development at Fornebu, site of Oslo’s former airport, losses soon piled up. It proved difficult for the arena’s managers to reserve use of the arena for Stabæk’s home football matches while also attracting enough major events to cover costs. Stabæk would also have had to boost tickets revenues enormously to meet lease payments.

Ulrichsen subsidized Stabæk’s operations and ultimately took control of the entire arena, while losing an estimated NOK 200 million on the project, according to newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN). He finally has had enough, and is threatening to throw out the club. Now major sponsor Telenor is also considering cutting its support of both the arena and the club.

Stabæk itself posted a loss of more than NOK 25 million for 2010. Its search for a new home continues.

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