Russian billionaire planning to build world’s biggest ice hockey arena in St. Petersburg
The billionaire president of Russian ice hockey club SKA Saint Petersburg says he’s planning to build the world’s biggest ice hockey arena in the city, in the hopes that the venue will host games at the 2023 World Championships.
Gennady Timchenko told the Russian media that a 22,500-capacity stadium will be constructed ahead of the world championships in 2023, which Russia has bid for, according to TASS.
The stadium would cost in the region of 20 billion rubles (US$295 million), and building work is expected to start next year, AP reports.
“We want to build in St. Petersburg the biggest hockey arena in the world,” Timchenko said at the weekend at the team’s launch ahead of the new Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) season.
“We want to thank the city leadership for helping us with this. I hope that in 2023 we will be able to host World Championship games at the new arena,” he added.
The current record for the largest venue in the world to regularly hold ice hockey games belongs to the 21,288-seater Bell Center in Canada, which is home to National Hockey League (NHL) club the Montreal Canadiens.
SKA Saint Petersburg compete in the Russian-based KHL, and play home games at the Ice Palace arena, which holds up to 12,300 fans.
The new arena would be the latest addition to the northern Russian city’s impressive sporting infrastructure.
The city already boasts the stunning 67,000-seater Saint Petersburg Stadium used by football club Zenit. The arena hosted games at the recent World Cup, and is said to have cost around US$1 billion, making it among the most expensive football stadiums in the world.
SKA St. Petersburg are two-time winners of the Gagarin Cup – the KHL’s top prize – and start the new season at reigning champions AK Bars in Kazan on Saturday.
Investor Timchenko, 65, has an estimated net worth of around $18 billion, according to Forbes. He has been president of SKA since 2011, and was appointed chairman of the KHL board of directors in 2012.