Riga stadium nears completion

  • 2006-01-18
  • By Julia Balandina
RIGA - The multifunctional sports and recreation venue, Arena Riga, initially built for the 2006 Ice Hockey World Champion-ship, will open its doors to the public in less than a month.
The new arena has become one of the largest and most modern construction projects since Latvia regained independence, and has already been admitted into the European Arenas Association. So far, only some 20 arenas in Europe, including France and Germany, belong to the organization.

The sprawling arena will accommodate up to 12,500 visitors in its concert hall, and about 10,500 people attending hockey games and other sports competitions.

The state-of-the-art design includes three levels: arena seating, a second floor of skyboxes and a third level devoted to food and shopping.

In addition to general seating, the first level will include special personal seats for business and VIP visitors along with a private restaurant.

The skyboxes will accommodate 14 people each and can be rented by both corporations and individuals. Those who can afford this luxury will be pleased by the skyboxes' separate entrance, private bar and guaranteed parking. People who rent the skyboxes, divided into timeshares of five 's seven years, can use them whenever they want - not only during arena-hosted events.

But there is also enough room for the public 's particularly the arena's third level. It is devoted entirely for walk-in visitors. This mall-like section will include about 20 different shops and restaurants 's from fine dining, to retail kiosks, snack stands and more.

"For now the arena is booked for almost every weekend in the spring season. Interest from promoters is growing steadily as we approach the arena's opening in less than a month," Arena Riga director Edgars Buncis told The Baltic Times.

The director is currently considering hosting the 2009 General Assembly of the International Olympic Committee, where the home of the next Olympic Games will be decided.

However, the biggest sports event so far is no doubt the 2006 Ice Hockey World Championships.

This May, the world's greatest teams will battle it out on the ice in Riga. Amazingly, but as early as one year ago many believed that the tournament organizers would not be able to pull it off.