Within the first week of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, sanctions were imposed on Russian oligarchs. These oligarchs also include Gennady Timchenko and the brothers Arkady and Boris Romanovich Rotenberg who own the company Arena Events. Since 2013, Arena Events is the owner of Hartwall Arena, the largest concert venue in Finland’s capital Helsinki and the home venue of the ice hockey team Jokerit. Still during the first week of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Helsinki-based beverage company Hartwall, largest sponsor and holder of the naming rights to the arena, ended its sponsorship and had all Hartwall signs removed from the venue’s walls on 2 March 2022, in order to avoid association with the Russian main owners. Since then, the future of the venue – which is now called Helsinki Halli – is uncertain.
While the venue could face a forced sale if its debts are unpaid, event organisers who had bookings for the arena are now looking for alternative venues. These bookings include amongst others concerts by Manowar, Björk and The Cure.
Juhana Vartiainen, Mayor of Helsinki, expressed concern that Helsinki may lose events:
“This can have a negative impact on what kind of event host city Helsinki can be. Unfortunately, some events may move out of town”– Juhana Vartiainen
While some events may be relocated to smaller venues in Helsinki, such as the Helsinki Ice Hall, others might be shifted from Helsinki to Tampere and Turku. Tampere seems particularly attractive with its brand new 15,000-seat Nokia Arena which opened just a few months ago, in December 2021.