The Latvian construction firm Multihalle signed an agreement with the Latvian Ice Hockey Federation Nov. 14 to build a multi-million-dollar hockey rink to host the 2006 Ice Hockey World Championship, quelling fears at least for now that the tournament would be moved elsewhere.
Multihalle proposed to construct the 12,000-seat arena on the site of an abandoned hippodrome that borders a residential and industrial neighborhood not far from dowtown Riga, according to hockey federation spokeswoman Laila Millere.
The city owns the land and the Riga City Council has yet to approve its use for the project.
Multihalle, the second company to win a tender for the project, had been at odds with the hockey federation and the City Council over the project's details.
The 2006 world championships organizing committee canceled a tentative agreement with the first choice, the Swiss company IMS Studio 6, after it said the company failed to submit plans by an established deadline.
The cancellation drew criticism from the International Ice Hockey Federation, which said it feared Latvia would not construct a suitable arena in time and threatened to pull the championship out of the country.
IMS Studio 6 resubmitted another bid along with Multihalle and the Canadian firm SCI Stadium Consultants International.
Another firm, Metala Buvju Sistemas, will build the hotel, shopping center and restaurants the estimated $200 million - $250 million project requires.
Metala Buvju Sistemas is a Latvian firm that is representing a foreign consortium of the Swiss company Maple Leaf Stadiums AG and the British firms Atlas Ward Building Systems and Planet Ice.
Multihalle officials say construction will begin in May or June and must be completed by Aug. 2005, a deadline set by the International Ice Hockey Federation.
Multihalle declined to disclose the amount it bid to build the arena. A bid submitted in the earlier tender by Multihalle in cooperation with a Finnish firm was 30 million euros, according to reports.