Credit Suisse Arena
Since the last game in the Hardturm on September 1, 2007, Grasshopper Club Zurich has been working on various projects to bring back a real football stadium to Zurich. After two failed projects, the third project with the Credit Suisse Arena is currently in the planning phase.
The people of Zurich voted on the so-called Pentagon project in September 2003. A stadium that would have held 30,000 spectators. The electorate clearly approved the project at the ballot box. While the electorate said "yes" to the Pentagon project, some local residents objected. The project was blocked by various objections and it soon became clear that the stadium could not be completed in time for the 2008 European Championship.
On September 1, 2007, the last match took place in the Hardturm. As fears grew that the new stadium would not be ready in time for the European Championship, the city council pushed ahead with the construction of the new Letzigrund. The new Letzigrund Stadium was opened in August 2007.
After the Pentagon project was brought down by appeals, the next project went to the ballot box in 2013. This time, the Zurich electorate rejected the project with 50.8%, meaning that another attempt had failed.
HRS wins the investor competition and plans to open a new stadium as a private investor.
City of Zurich press release:
Winning project from HRS Investment AG and Credit Suisse real estate investment vehicles
The city of Zurich's investor competition for the Hardturm site has now come to an end. Based on the unanimous recommendation of the judging panel, the City Council made the decision to commission investors HRS Investment AG and the real estate investment vehicles of Credit Suisse for further work on "Project Ensemble". The project involves the construction, financing and operation of a football stadium to accommodate 18,500 spectators, as well as two residential and business blocks and 173 social housing apartments for Allgemeine Baugenossenschaft Zürich (ABZ).
The city of Zurich launched the investor competition for the Hardturm site in autumn 2015, with five bidding teams taking part. This paved the way for private investors to develop projects capable of securing majority support. A bidding team was being sought to plan, construct and finance a football stadium, social housing apartments and an investor project. The aim of the project was to be forward-thinking with regard to urban development, architecture and compatibility with the district, but also to be economical. The city was also striving to create an environmentally sustainable project in the fields of business and the environment.
Total package impresses
After the pre-qualification stage, five bidding teams prepared their projects as part of a non-anonymous process. The jury, that was composed of people from a number of different disciplines, felt that the submitted projects were very diverse, both architecturally and economically. The judging panel were impressed with the variety and the high quality of the solutions proposed. The best solution was put together by the "Ensemble" team, made up of investors HRS Investment AG and Credit Suisse real estate investment vehicles. "The jury found the overall package of this project to be the most impressive, a decision which was supported by the City Council. The team submitted a detailed and well thought out business plan", stressed Daniel Leupi, Head of the Finance Department.
The "Ensemble" project in detail
The planned football stadium will have a maximum capacity of 18,500 spectators. It will be owned by Stadion Züri AG, an existing stadium owner company, and will be rented for immediate occupancy by a stadium operating company set up by the two clubs. The investment company will be financed by HRS Investment AG. "GC and FCZ need the right football stadium to get back on their feet from both a sporting and financial perspective. The long-term and financially sustainable strategy of this project is appealing", says city councillor and Minister for Sport Gerold Lauber. Both clubs – whose Chairmen were present throughout the judging stage but had no voting rights – are behind the winning project.
The investor project, with a main usable area of around 66,000 sqm, also provides for the construction of two residential and business blocks to the west of the site and is being developed and implemented by HRS Real Estate AG on behalf of the real estate investment vehicles of Credit Suisse. The construction of the social housing is being planned and carried out in partnership with Allgemeine Baugenossenschaft Zürich (ABZ). The sub-project on the eastern side of the site will include a residential complex of 173 social housing apartments of different sizes and a double nursery with childcare facilities. The architects in charge of the three properties are Pool Architekten, Caruso St John Architects and Boltshauser Architekten. The open nature of the structure creates enough open spaces for the district. City councillor André Odermatt, Head of the Building Department, highlighted what the project as a whole means for the district: "The different types of housing will enrich Zurich West. Due to the variety of uses of the buildings, the site will be busy every day, not just on matchdays".
The next steps
A binding statement about when the first ball will be kicked at the new stadium and when the first tenants will move into the apartments cannot be issued at this point. With the conclusion of the investor competition, the city of Zurich has reached an important milestone. As the next step, the winning team will continue to work on their project until it is ready for approval, and will then develop a private design plan and negotiate the building rights agreements with the city. Both the design plan and the building rights agreements must be submitted to the local council. The City Council expects a referendum to be held. However, the date of any possible vote can only be set once the project has been clearly defined and has been passed by the political authorities.
On November 25, 2018, the voters of the city of Zurich said yes to a new football stadium. It has already been 15 years since the destruction of the Hardturm stadium.
Press release GC Zurich:
The voters of the city of Zurich finally say yes to a real football stadium. Grasshopper Club Zürich is very happy about this decision and thanks the population.
It was a long way to this memorable day. All the more reason for Grasshopper Club Zurich to be delighted: "Together with our partners and the private investors, we are very happy about this commitment of the people of Zurich to the Ensemble project," says GC President Stephan Anliker, adding: "The great commitment that the project partners, the entire club and especially our fans have tirelessly shown in recent months has paid off. For this I would just like to express the greatest thanks".
For more than 10 years, there has been no actual football stadium in Zurich. In 2008, the old Hardturm Stadium was demolished, and two years earlier in 2006, the old Letzigrund Stadium. After that, two stadium projects failed to materialize due to objections and later because of a very narrow "no" vote at the ballot box. "With today's YES, Zurich is taking another very important step towards the realization of a real football stadium," says Anliker and adds: "For the football-loving citizens of Zurich, it also means more fun with football and sports, because in future games will be played in a real football stadium."
Grasshopper Club Zurich, together with FC Zurich, Allgemeine Baugenossenschaft Zürich (ABZ), and the developers HRS and Credit Suisse, would like to thank all the citizens of Zurich. The broad cross-party support that can be seen in all sections of the population shows that the private financing and the balanced mix of a stadium, a cooperative development and two residential and commercial high-rises have convinced Zurich's citizens. "It has paid off that we have been very consistent in presenting the facts in an extremely factual and transparent way right from the start," says the project's spokesman, Hans Klaus of KMES Partner. The vote should also be understood as a signal that the population does not want radical solutions in neighborhood and urban development, but prefers fair and balanced compromises.
For GC as a city of Zurich football club, the result is of great significance. "With today's yes vote, everyone - investors, partners, players and, of course, the club itself - will once again have a real perspective," said Stephan Anliker, adding: "With several hundred employees, the future stadium will offer us new economic opportunities that are crucial for a sustainable business future and thus for both top-level and youth sports.
With the approval, 174 low-cost apartments can also be built on the Hardturm site. This is a very important project, says the president of the Allgemeine Baugenossenschaft Zürich (ABZ), Nathanea Elte. This would significantly increase the proportion of non-profit apartments in District 5, which is in line with the will of the population and the city government.
For Credit Suisse, which is realizing the two residential towers through its investment foundations that indirectly cross-finance the stadium, the project makes an important contribution to football in Zurich. It sees the decision of Zurich's voters as a mandate to work with the project partners to ensure that the project is implemented as quickly as possible.
For HRS Real Estate AG (HRS), which is responsible for the development and realization, the yes of the city of Zurich's voters creates planning security, even if this means that only a further, albeit very important, intermediate step has been taken. "Next, we will have to submit the design plan. Appeals are possible. We appeal to the reasonableness and fairness of the opponents to respect the will of the people, which was clearly expressed today," says Martin Kull, CEO and owner of HRS.
For Grasshopper Club Zurich, November 25 is a very good day. Zurich has finally seized its chance to build a real football stadium. For this, GC would like to thank the voters of the city of Zurich and especially its fans for their great support.
Credit Suisse is further expanding its commitment to Swiss football and will become a partner of the planned football stadium, which will from then on bear the name "Credit Suisse Arena".
Press release Credit Suisse:
Credit Suisse is underscoring its commitment to Swiss football: In addition to its long-standing and wide-ranging collaboration with the Swiss Football Association, Credit Suisse has become the arena partner of Zurich's planned football stadium, which from now on will be called the "Credit Suisse Arena." The agreement between Credit Suisse and the stadium's operator, Stadion Zürich Betriebs AG, will enable both of Zurich's city football clubs to generate additional sources of income that would not be possible without the new stadium.
This week, Credit Suisse (Switzerland) Ltd. and the company operating the new stadium, Stadion Zürich Betriebs AG, signed a multi-year agreement governing their partnership. Each football team owns 49 percent of the operating company, with the remaining two percent held by MFT Meier Finanz-Treuhand AG. The agreement makes Credit Suisse the new stadium's partner and assigns the associated naming rights to the bank. The stadium will be called the "Credit Suisse Arena." The agreement takes effect immediately and runs for ten years after the stadium becomes operational. Starting with the next season, Credit Suisse's name will be prominently displayed as the arena partner to both football clubs using perimeter advertising.
Credit Suisse Arena hugely important to Zurich's football clubs
FC Zürich and Grasshopper Club Zürich currently employ a total of 400 people, including many youth team coaches, medical personnel, and administrative staff. Add to that about 350 football-mad children and teenagers (girls as well as boys) per club. Besides their personnel expenses, the teams have considerable outlays for hosting matches, paying stadium rent, providing security, and making additional investments. Yet, the prevailing economic conditions are inadequate for both football teams. Because they have no general marketing rights at the Letzigrund stadium, they miss out on a large portion of the proceeds generated by the stadium. The new stadium, however, provides completely new sources of income. Besides the recently issued naming rights, they can now generate funds from concession stands, for instance. This additional revenue will be crucial to the long-term prosperity of both clubs.
Thomas Gottstein, CEO of Credit Suisse (Switzerland) Ltd.:
"Through the Credit Suisse Arena, we are further expanding our long-term support for Swiss football, which includes our partnership of more than 25 years with the Swiss Football Association. Moreover, today's announcement is also an expression of our commitment to Zurich, where our bank has its roots. We are already looking forward to the first kick-off and some gripping matches between Zurich's football clubs and their opponents at the Credit Suisse Arena!"
Andras Gurovits, Vice Chairman of Grasshopper Club Zürich:
"We are extremely pleased to have succeeded in gaining Credit Suisse, a bank with roots firmly planted in Switzerland and in Zurich, as the arena partner. Awarding the naming rights will provide us with key support in funding our club's activities, including youth league football, from next season already. Owing to the fact that we will soon be able to play in a 'real' football stadium, the Credit Suisse Arena also means a significant boost in our optimism about the future."
Ancillo Canepa, Chairman of the Board of Directors of FC Zürich:
"I am happy that the new stadium will again host throngs of roaring fans, creating a much more exciting atmosphere. At the same time, it will also enable us to generate additional revenues to which we did not have access in the past. That will give the club long-term prospects. After a clear majority of voters approved the Ensemble project, we are now hoping for speedy and timely completion. I am greatly looking forward to FCZ's first match at the Credit Suisse Arena in the summer of 2022!"
Following a referendum by IG Freiräume Zürich West, the Ensemble project is put to the vote a second time. The city of Zurich's voters also vote "yes" the second time.
Press release GC Zürich:
Grasshopper Club Zürich is both delighted and relieved that the voters of the city of Zurich have once again approved the stadium project on the Hardturm site. The YES vote gives GC a good perspective, especially in these difficult times, and is a great incentive for all upcoming tasks on and off the pitch.
The renewed YES is a sign of support for the sport of football, which consists of much more than just top-class sport. Thousands of girls and boys, youngsters and amateurs play in more than 50 football clubs in the city of Zurich alone. But we are also happy for the many track and field athletes who will hopefully soon be able to make full use of "their" stadium - the Letzigrund.
For GC, the YES vote is more than just a referendum won. For Grasshopper Club Zürich and many people associated with the club, the YES vote means a return in the medium term to the place that has been GC's footballing home for decades and will always be a major part of the club's history and identification.
Grasshopper Club Zürich would like to thank the countless supporters and fans who have worked hard for the stadium over the past few months with a great deal of commitment, creativity and sportsmanship. We now hope that the planned stadium and the new residential and leisure facilities will be realized as quickly as possible. GC appeals to the fairness of the losing opponents not to put further obstacles in the way of the project now.
The Federal Supreme Court has rejected the privately submitted voting rights appeals against the referendum on the design plan for the Hardturm site with a clear ruling. Grasshopper Club Zurich is delighted with this ruling and, together with the "Ensemble" partners, is now tackling the next steps on the road to the Credit Suisse Arena.
The Zurich city population has already voted twice in favor of the "Ensemble" project, which includes a soccer stadium, two high-rise buildings and a cooperative housing development. The "Ensemble" partners call on everyone to respect this referendum result now so that construction can begin as soon as possible.
Grasshopper Club Zurich is pleased that this important milestone has been reached and hopes that further progress can be made in the coming months.