Nationalarenan, currently known as Friends Arena for sponsorship reasons (to be named Strawberry Arena from July 2024 onwards[9]), is a retractable roof multi-purpose stadium in Stockholm, Sweden.

Friends Arena
Nationalarenan
Map
Former namesSwedbank Arena (2009–2012)
Friends Arena (2012-2024)
LocationSolna, Stockholm, Sweden
Coordinates59°22′21″N 18°00′00″E / 59.37250°N 18.00000°E / 59.37250; 18.00000
OwnerSwedish Football Association, Folksam, Solna Municipality, Jernhusen, Peab, Fabege[3]
Executive suites92
Capacity
Record attendance
SurfaceNatural grass turf
Construction
Broke ground7 December 2009[1]
Built2009–2012
Opened25 October 2012[2]
Construction cost2.8 billion SEK
( 300 million)
ArchitectArkitekterna Krook & Tjäder, Berg Arkitektkontor, Populous[4]
Main contractorsPeab
Tenants
Sweden national football team (2012–present)
AIK Fotboll (2013–present)
Melodifestivalen final (2013–2020, 2022–present)

Located next to the lake Råstasjön in Solna, just north of the City Centre, it is the largest stadium in Scandinavia. Since its opening, the venue has served as Sweden's national stadium for men's football, hence the name Nationalarenan.

The main tenants of the stadium are Sweden's men's national football team and Allsvenskan football club AIK; both relocated from their previous home at the Råsunda Stadium. The venue has a total capacity of 65,000 at concerts and 50,000 seated at football matches, but the stadium can be scaled down to provide for smaller events with approximately 20,000 guests. The arena is designed by Danish C.F. Møller Architects.

History edit

Initially there were plans to build a new national stadium close to the indoor venue Ericsson Globe in Stockholm, but on 1 April 2006 the Swedish Football Association (SvFF) made the decision to build the new stadium in Solna. It was calculated to cost around 1.9 billion kronor (202 million euro) to complete. The estimated cost before construction had begun was 2.3 billion kronor. It replaced Råsunda Stadium, Sweden's former national arena for football. Råsunda was torn down and replaced by some 700 flats and office buildings.

Swedbank acquired the naming rights to the stadium in a 153 million kronor (about 20.5 million euro) deal that will last until 2023. While the arena was originally to be known as Swedbank Arena, Swedbank announced in 2012 that it would donate its naming rights to Friends, a nonprofit organization against school bullying of which Swedbank is a sponsor. Consequently, the stadium was renamed Friends Arena.

On January 13, 2024, a naming rights sponsorship agreement was reached with the Norwegian hotel company Strawberry. The new name, "Strawberry Arena", will take effect on July 12, 2024.[10]

Structure and facilities edit

The stadium has a retractable roof, enabling events to take place during the winter season and to host indoor entertainment shows. The facade of the arena can be lit up in 17 million different color schemes. For example, the stadium is lit up in blue and yellow when Sweden's national team is playing matches. Nationalarenan is a UEFA Category 4 stadium, and the natural turf pitch measures 105 x 68 metres. In the middle of the stadium roof, a 240 square metres big media cube is placed where the attendance can follow what is happening. In addition, 647 LED-screens are installed throughout the facility to enhance the guest experience.[2]

Events edit

 
Exterior

Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden declared the arena inaugurated at the opening ceremony, which took place in the venue on 27 October 2012. The show, directed by famous Swedish director Colin Nutley, was entitled "Svenska ögonblick" (Swedish Moments).Popular swedish artists as Agnes Carlsson, The Hives, Icona Pop, two-times Eurovision Song Contest winner Loreen, First Aid Kit and Roxette performed in front of a crowd of 46,000 people. Furthermore, 1,700,000 TV viewers watched the inauguration show live at SVT1.[11]

Swedish House Mafia made three concerts during their One Last Tour in the arena. A total of approximately 115,000 people visited Nationalarenan during the three sold-out concerts in November 2012.

On 14 November 2012, the stadium hosted its first football game. Zlatan Ibrahimović scored the first goal at Sweden's new national stadium in the 4–2 victory against England. The game was seen by 49,967 people, which until 2017 was the attendance record for a sport event.[12]

 
Sweden vs Republic of Ireland, 22 March 2013

A new record for Swedish bandy was set at the 2013 Swedish Bandy Championship Final, when Hammarby IF defeated Sandvikens AIK ahead of an audience of 38,474 persons under the closed roof.[13]

AIK played their first competitive football match on April 7, 2013. Visiting team Syrianska FC succeeded to get one point after a goalless game, but the better for AIK, they set a new club record attendance for a home game in Allsvenskan of 43,463.

 
Sandvikens AIK players pose before the 2013 Swedish men's national bandy championship final game.

On 28 July 2013, the final of the UEFA Women's Euro were played. 41,301 people watched Germany overcome Norway with a score of 1–0. The game set a new attendance record for a Women's Euro fixture. Solna became also the first city in Europe which has hosted all four big football championships (FIFA World Cup, FIFA Women's World Cup, UEFA European Championship and UEFA Women's Championship). The arena also hosts Motorcycle speedway as part of the Speedway Grand Prix World Championship series and has hosted the Speedway Grand Prix of Scandinavia since 2013. The temporary track at the arena is 275 metres (301 yards) in length.

The arena also hosted the final of Melodifestivalen every year since 2013, with the exception of 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2022, the arena also hosted the fourth heat and the semi-final of that year's competition. The stadium was chosen as the venue for the 2017 UEFA Europa League Final.

Concerts edit

Concerts at Friends Arena
Date Artist Event Attendance Revenue
3 May 2013 Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band Wrecking Ball World Tour 169,325 / 169,325[14] $17,932,099[15]
4 May 2013
8 May 2013 One Direction Take Me Home Tour 29,723 / 29,723 $1,783,380
11 May 2013 Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band Wrecking Ball World Tour
1 June 2013 Kiss Monster World Tour
13 July 2013 Iron Maiden Maiden England World Tour
22 November 2013 Black Sabbath Black Sabbath Reunion Tour
13 December 2013 Elton John The Diving Board Tour
13 June 2014 One Direction Where We Are Tour 88,978 / 88,978 $7,358,040
14 June 2014
28 June 2014 Pearl Jam Lightning Bolt Tour
19 July 2015 AC/DC Rock or Bust World Tour
19 March 2016 Simple Minds Big Music Tour + Greatest Hits 2016
3 July 2016 Coldplay A Head Full of Dreams Tour 53,575 / 53,575 $3,970,140
9 July 2016 Black Sabbath The End Tour
26 July 2016 Beyoncé The Formation World Tour 48,519 / 48,519 $3,937,498
5 May 2017 Depeche Mode Global Spirit Tour 36,400 / 36,400 $2,734,164
8 May 2017 Ariana Grande Dangerous Woman Tour 14,106 / 14,106 $995,461
29 June 2017 Guns N' Roses Not in This Lifetime... Tour 53,654 / 53,654 $4,460,555
12 October 2017 The Rolling Stones No Filter Tour 53,770 / 53,770 $7,880,697
21 November 2017 Queen + Adam Lambert Queen + Adam Lambert Tour 2017–2018
25 June 2018 Beyoncé Jay-Z On the Run II Tour 46,647 / 46,647 $4,610,554
2 July 2018 Eminem Revival Tour
14 July 2018 Ed Sheeran ÷ Tour 54,234 / 54,234 $4,818,972
31 July 2018 Justin Timberlake The Man of the Woods Tour 23,303 / 23,303 $1,818,015
18 August 2018 Roger Waters Us + Them Tour 19,043 / 19,238 $1,782,758
12 June 2019 Phil Collins Not Dead Yet Tour
17 October 2019 Cher Here We Go Again Tour 27,025 / 27,025 $2,274,898
21 July 2022 Lady Gaga The Chromatica Ball 34,934 / 34,934 $3,540,732
31 July 2022 The Rolling Stones Sixty 50,889 / 50,889 $6,916,424
10 May 2023 Beyoncé Renaissance World Tour 90,169 / 90,169 $9,802,155
11 May 2023
23 May 2023 Depeche Mode Memento Mori World Tour
17 May 2024 Taylor Swift The Eras Tour
18 May 2024
19 May 2024
25 July 2024 Pink Pink Summer Carnival

Points of interest edit

 
Interior

The stadium is located a 700-metre (800 yards) walk from the Solna commuter train station, where the Tvärbanan tramway and local buses are also available (a slightly longer walk away). The 18th meridian east runs through Nationalarenan. There are two boards informing that the eighteenth meridian has passed through this point, at the entrance B and F.[16]

 
Plaque marking the passage of the eighteenth meridian.

The arena, located about six km (3,7 miles) from Stockholm Central Station, has parking for 300 charter buses and 4,000 cars. Along with the stadium, there will also be built a number of hotels with a total of approximately 400 rooms, restaurants for 8,000 guests, office areas for 10,000 employees, conference/exhibition centres and 2,000 flats. Moreover, a shopping mall, Mall of Scandinavia, with 240 shops and a multi screen cinema, opened near the stadium in 2015. The mall is the biggest shopping centre in Sweden.

 
Friends Arena before Sweden vs. Spain. 15th October 2019.

The total project was calculated to cost more than 4 billion SEK.[17]

Football average attendances edit

[citation needed]

Season Sweden national team AIK
Games Season Average Highest Gate Lowest Gate Games Season Average Highest Gate Lowest Gate
2012 1 49,967 49,967
vs England
49,967
vs England
2013 7 41,973 49,766
vs Portugal
13,438
vs Norway
15 18,900 43,466
vs Syrianska FC
9,388
vs Östers IF
2014 4 27,926 49,023
vs Russia
15,421
vs Estonia
15 16,446 30,650
vs IFK Göteborg
11,408
vs Falkenbergs FF
2015 5 34,925 49,053
vs Denmark
25,351
vs Montenegro
15 20,983 43,713
vs IFK Göteborg
10,701
vs Falkenbergs FF
2016 4 28,581 37,942
vs Wales
18,475
vs Czech Republic
15 16,431 30,843
vs Hammarby IF
8,507
vs BK Häcken
2017 4 44,810 50,022
vs Luxembourg
31,243
vs Belarus
15 17,807 33,157
vs Djurgårdens IF
10,342
vs Halmstads BK
2018 15 23,671 50,128
vs GIF Sundsvall
2019 15 18.970 45,367
vs Djurgårdens IF
2020 15 0
2021 15 12,364 42,539
vs Djurgårdens IF

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ "Inledande spadtag för nationalarenan" (in Swedish). Dagens Nyheter. 2009-12-07. Archived from the original on 2009-12-08. Retrieved 2009-12-07.
  2. ^ a b c "This is Friends Arena". friendsarena.se. Archived from the original on 30 March 2013. Retrieved 9 April 2013.
  3. ^ "Säljer del av Friends Arena" (in Swedish). Sveriges Television.
  4. ^ "Frågor och svar" (in Swedish). friendsarena.se. Archived from the original on 2013-04-27.
  5. ^ "Friends Arena –". Stadiumdb.com. Retrieved 2022-08-22.
  6. ^ "UEFA Euro 2020 Evaluation Report" (PDF). Retrieved 23 August 2022.
  7. ^ West, Bryan. "Taylor Swift breaks concert crowd record in Stockholm with Eras Tour". USA TODAY. Retrieved 2024-05-17.
  8. ^ "Ny toppsiffra för AIK – slog publikrekordet på Friends" (in Swedish). fotbollskanalen.se.
  9. ^ Edwinsson, Lisa (2024-01-13). "Friends arena byter namn till Strawberry arena". Dagens Nyheter (in Swedish). Archived from the original on 2024-01-14. Retrieved 2024-01-14.
  10. ^ Nyheter, S. V. T.; Damon Dastory, Separam (2024-01-13). "Friends Arena i Solna blir Strawberry arena". SVT Nyheter (in Swedish). Retrieved 2024-01-13.
  11. ^ "Svenska ögonblick – Invigning Friends Arena" (in Swedish). friendsarena.se. Archived from the original on 2012-11-10.
  12. ^ "Zlatan Ibrahimovic: I liked the first goal more because it was history". Guardian UK. 15 November 2012. Retrieved 15 November 2012.
  13. ^ Picture from the 2013 bandy final, with the all time high attendance of 38,474
  14. ^ The score data is combined from the three shows held at Friends Arena on 3rd, 4th and May 11th
  15. ^ The score data is combined from the three shows held at Friends Arena on 3rd, 4th and May 11th
  16. ^ "Google Maps".
  17. ^ Arenastaden.se Archived December 30, 2008, at the Wayback Machine

External links edit

Preceded by UEFA Women's Championship
Final venue

2013
Succeeded by
Preceded by UEFA Europa League
Final venue

2017
Succeeded by