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Football stadium becomes Handball World Championship Arena

Advert from IAKS member NUSSLI

For the Men‘s Handball World Championship 2023, Stockholm‘s Tele2 Arena was transformed into a huge handball arena with 22,000 spectator seats. With a temporary grandstand, event construction specialist ­NUSSLI created a perfectly fitting World Championship arena with an immediate match feeling in the stadium. 

When major sporting events such as the 28th IHF Men‘s Handball World Championship 2023, which took place in Poland and Sweden, require the venue to be adapted to the sport and its fans, NUSSLI has sustainable solutions ready. Existing sports facilities can be transformed into the perfect location exactly according to the needs of the respective sporting event.

The handball arena in the football stadium

Long before the kick-off of the World Handball Championship, Krister Bergström, CEO of the Swedish organizing committee, announced online his idea of an unforgettable World Championship and said: „We will attach great importance to the event atmosphere on the final weekend in Stockholm. Our goal is to make the world stand still when the matches are played.“ To create this event atmosphere, the project team from NUSSLI Germany developed its own smaller World Championship arena within the Tele2 Arena football stadium for the nine matches of the Handball World Championship at the venue in Stockholm. On the one hand, the existing infrastructure of the Tele2 Arena could be used for the big event. At the same time, the arena in the stadium did not offer half-empty spectator tiers due to an oversized venue, but exactly the immediate match experience that fans love. Being there live and experiencing the action very close to the pitch – that‘s the Handball World Cha mpionship to remember.

Best view and close up

Just under two weeks before the games in Stockholm, NUSSLI began with the set-up work. 26 trucks gradually rolled up in front of the football stadium in the Johanneshov district and delivered a total of 450 tons of system material. Within only ten days, the project team erected a temporary spectator stand with 8,000 seats. It fitted perfectly into the stadium‘s existing grandstand system and, together with its rows of seats, formed its own custom-fit arena around the handball court. A total of 22,000 seats were created with the best line of sight for the fans. And a guaranteed close-up feeling for the nine World Championship matches. On 25 January 2023, the teams competed against each other in the quarter-finals. On 27 January, the semi-finals and qualifying matches for places five to eight took place. And on 29 January, the atmosphere in the arena reached its peak when defending champions Denmark and Olympic champions France ultimately faced each other in the final match. A familiar duel, which showed handball at its best and, with a score of 34:29, meant that Denmark won the title for the third time in a row. 

Nüssli Handball WM Arena

Photos: NUSSLI Group

Certified “Sustainable Event“

Nüssli Handball WM Arena Stockholm

Photos: NUSSLI Group

However, it was not only the handball fans who followed this World Championship with special interest. It is certain that the matches in Sweden were also watched by other sports officials and event organizers. After all, this World Handball Championship is the country‘s first international championship and also the first international handball championship in the world to receive the “Sustainable Event“ certificate. The Swedish organization of the World Handball Championship – including its five venues Gothenburg, Malmö, Kristianstad, Jönköping and Stockholm – met the criteria of Greentime‘s sustainability certification. “The movement we have seen in terms of sustainability during the planning of this championship is unique and we are impressed by what the championship organizers, cities and arenas have achieved together,“ said Simon Strandvik, CEO of Greentime according to news on the official World Handball Championship website. Greentime supports event organizers in making their events more sustainable.

Handball grandstand today, medal podium tomorrow

Another contribution to sustainability was the decision to use the infrastructure of an existing stadium and ­temporarily adapt it to the needs of their own event. After all, stadium operators benefit from even more possible uses if they can have their sports facilities flexibly and quickly adapted for smaller events. And: The material used for the stands and the other temporary infrastructures moves in a constant cycle from event to event over the years. With the system construction method, any type of temporary structure can be planned and implemented for any size of event in an absolutely flexible manner and dismantled after the event without leaving any residue. Thus, construction elements that just formed the grandstand at the World Handball ­Championship may be in use weeks later in the medal ­podium of a ski world cup race.