AEG Makes Friends (Arena)

AEG Facilities To Manage Friends Arena in Stockholm

  • by Gil Kaufman
  • Published: May 10, 2017

AEG will operate Friends Arena, Stockholm, Sweden.

AEG Facilities is expanding its range in Stockholm, Sweden, once again. In a deal with Arenabolaget in Solna AB and property company Fabege, the Los Angeles-based AEG Facilities will manage Friends Arena in Stockholm as part of a long-term, 10-year agreement.

The area’s largest multipurpose stadium — located in Solna, just five miles north of Stockholm — seats 50,000 and has a capacity of 75,000. It is home to the Swedish National Soccer Team, the AIK Soccer Club, as well as concerts, family shows, sports and other special events. It is also an opportunity for AEG to develop a powerful portfolio of venues that could help nurture talent and events from start-up to mega-success.

“There are two stadiums with retractable roofs in this market — one run by AEG since 2003, Tele2Arena, which seats 30,000 and has two home teams — and this one, which was built by the Swedish Soccer Association,” said Marie Lindqvist, CEO of AEG operations in Sweden. “We were contacted by the owners who wanted to know if we wanted to run Friends along with the four other arenas we operate in the area.”

Friends Arena joins the other venues operated by AEG in Stockholm, which include Tele2Arena, Ericsson Globe (16,000 cap.), Söderstadion (13,000 cap.), the Hovet (9,300 cap.) and the hockey stadium Annexet (3,700 cap.). AEG has run the last four venues since 2008 and Lindqvist said from the company’s point of view, it was an opportunity to add to their portfolio of venues with different capacities in the market.

Klaus Vikström, executive vice president of Fabege and a board member of Arenabolaget, said his company approached AEG about the opportunity when the former operator, France’s Lagardere, had taken Friends Arena as far as possible in the market. “The competition in Stockholm is very strong and someone who controls all the arenas has a better platform to place the right concert in the right area,” he said. “We didn’t see [AEG] as competition, we saw an opportunity for them to take it to the next level.”

With the vast reach AEG has, Vikström said the company can help make Friends Arena competitive in a market that extends beyond Stockholm to Copenhagen, Hamburg and beyond. “Europe is much smaller than the states in terms of land, and in order to compete Europe-wide and worldwide, AEG makes it a much stronger attraction to big concerts and managers.”

AEG Facilities will provide full management services to Friends Arena, including event programming, vendor venue services, advertising and marketing, while overseeing event-day operations. In addition, Lindqvist said AEG can now also offer packages to potential sponsors that will span more than one venue. “We can offer one or more venues for bigger events, for international championships when we work very closely with the city to offer this opportunity to take advantage of the modern arena infrastructure we have,” she said. “In developing sponsorships we can offer premium opportunities to have a lot of content at adjoining arenas.”

Lindqvist concurred that while AEG runs multiple arenas in Stockholm, the competition in the market is all over Europe and the addition of Friends makes their offerings in the city much stronger by presenting a variety of opportunities for potential partners and clients. For instance, the ability to offer sponsors and events more than one venue at a time makes sense for AEG, which hosts 350 events a year across all six buildings. “We can sell across the arenas with a very good mix of sports, music and family shows,” said Lindqvist of the deal, the terms of which were not made public.

As with any such consolidating action, Vikström said the AEG deal will also help reduce some redundancies and create efficiencies. “To keep costs at the right level if you have two grass lawns you don’t need two cutters,” he said. “You don’t need two CFOs, and if you look at the other side, there’s a bigger economic benefit and a big win for an operator with a fantastic variety of the best and most modern arenas in the country."

Friends Arena is anchored by the Mall of Scandinavia, the biggest mall in the region at more than one million square feet, and next to the newly developed city district, Arenastaden, which has more than a million visitors a month and one million square feet of shops.

Perhaps the biggest advantage of the new deal for AEG is a unique opportunity to work with their many partners to help acts and events play their way up from the smaller venues to Friends Arena over time. “That’s how we work,” she said. “For example, in eSports and EDM we have acts that started out in the smaller venues and have grown into the bigger arenas. That’s our plan for Friends as well.”

  • by Gil Kaufman
  • Published: May 10, 2017