AEG Booked For Danube Arena

Although the building of the new Danube Arena in Bratislava, Slovakia, has been delayed until 2010, AEG has already won the battle to run the venue.

The euro 80 million ($118 million) project, which will have a multipurpose main arena capable of holding 15,000 for a concert and a seated capacity of 12,000, was originally expected to begin in the spring of this year. At the end of March, Slovakian papers were reporting that the self-administrating region of Bratislava still hadn’t asked for more than outline planning permission because the money to finance the build wasn’t in place.

Brian Kabatznick, vice president for AEG Facilities for Europe, says he’s looking forward to expanding the company’s network across Europe, apparently confident that his company won’t find itself in the same position it did in Copenhagen.

Having won a contract to run a new arena in the Danish capital, the U.S.-based company and the local authority failed to find a partner that would come up with the cash for the project.

This time the problem looks to have been linked to the delay of the euro 400 million redevelopment of the Slovakian capital’s Petržalka City district. Successive district mayors have spent months fielding questions about the holdups, some of which revolved around public transport links to the area.

The new venue looks to be in a good geographical location, as the Slovakian capital is on the borders of Hungary and Austria, where the capital city of Vienna is less than 40 miles away.

Bratislava and Vienna are the two European national capitals closest to one another. Bratislava to Budapest is about 150 miles. Kabatznick referred to it as “a vibrant European market.”

The local regional government began the development by having a feasibility study carried out by Finnish firm Jokerit HC OY, which has also done similar work for Helsinki Hartwall Arena, Hamburg Colorline and Prague’s Sazka Arena.

It’s hoped the new arena will host as many as 100 events within its first year, attracting an annual attendance of 625,000 people.

Apart from trying to nose into the European touring circuit, the new arena on the banks of the River Danube expects to stage sports including volleyball, basketball, hockey, figure skating and tennis. It can also be used for musicals, theatre productions and exhibitions.

The surrounding area will have an aqua park, tennis court, hotel and ample parking facility.

The AEG deal was announced by Bratislava Mayor Vladimir Bajan at a press conference with Kabatznick Oct. 29.