Kukla's Korner Hockey
by George Malik on 06/28/13 at 02:37 PM ET
This finally came out in English, and it's huge news: a pair of Russian billionaires snagged Hartwall Arena, where Jokerit HC of the Finnish SM-Liiga plays, and at present, they plan on moving one of Finland's elite hockey franchises to the KHL during the 2014-2015 season. From the KHL's English-language website (and it should be noted that KHL VP Gennady Velchkin has already stated that he doesn't believe that Jokerit joining the KHL is a slam dunk by any means):
A deal sealed in Finland today marks another significant step toward the KHL becoming a truly pan-European League. The Arena Events Oy Company, set up by Gennady Timchenko and Arkady and Boris Rotenberg, has purchased a 100% stake in Helsinki’s Hartwall Arena, home of Jokerit Hockey Club. Arena Events Oy and Jokerit are to become partners as a result of the deal, which paves the way for Jokerit to join the Kontinental Hockey League in time for the 2014-15 season.
The new owners see this investment as a chance to further expand the KHL and also to study and learn the business model and infrastructure of a successful club, so that the experience gained can be used to enrich Russian sport.
“For me, acquiring the Hartwall Arena and shares in a Finnish hockey club pleases me both as a businessman and as a supporter of the game. The purchase of a major and modern sporting arena should be a sound investment for Volga Group, while the deal will also play a big role in the development of the the Kontinental Hockey League,” said Gennady Timchenko. “Entry into the KHL will be a new and serious challenge for the club and will raise interest in hockey in Finland. In the KHL, Jokerit will play against the strongest teams in Europe on a regular basis.”
Roman Rotenberg, son of Boris, is to take charge of Hartwall Arena, and he had this to say about the deal: “The acquisition of the Hartwall Arena is a huge step in accelerating our development as both a hockey business and an entertainment provider in the region. At the same time, it forms part of a grand strategy for optimizing the commercial aspects of the club and increasing its income. The experience we will gain of running the arena can be of benefit to KHL clubs who can adopt Jokerit’s modern management structure.”
Jokerit is one of Europe’s most successful hockey clubs. Founded in 1967, “The Jokers” are six-time champions of Finland, six-time silver medalists, and two-time bronze medalists. Jokerit also won the IIHF Continental Cup in 2003 and the European Cup in 1995 and 1996.
The Hartwall Arena in Helsinki was opened in 1997 and is the largest ice hockey stadium in Finland, boasting a capacity of 13,500. In 2012 and 2013 the venue hosted the IIHF World Championships.
Update: IIHF.com's Risto Pakarinen has more on the situation.
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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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