The future of Alba in the arena has so far been secured only for the next season, lease negotiations – rbb – regional

The defending German champion and Euroleague participant Alba Berlin is negotiating his future at the Mercedes-Benz Arena at Ostbahnhof. The owner of the venue, Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG), confirmed the relevant information from rbb | 24 upon request. When asked by rbb | 24, a basketball club spokesman declined to comment. Basketball players have been playing their home games there since the arena opened in 2008, and now a new lease is underway.

As a spokeswoman for the Senate administration rbb | 24 said on Thursday, the Senate has been actively supporting Alba Berlin in “finding a new arena” for some time. A preliminary solution was found together with everyone involved: Alba will play in the Mercedes-Benz Arena in the 2022/23 season. In the event of conflicting appointments, the team will continue to move to Max-Schmeling-Halle; as agreed with the operator Velomax, Füchsen Berlin and BR Volleys.

An Anschutz spokesman told rbb | 24 about the ongoing negotiations that they were confident they would find a solution with a long-term tenant. “In particular, we are talking to Alba about the upcoming season and beyond,” he said without giving any details about a possible date.

Alba depends more on Anschutz than the other way around

This is a sensitive time for the reigning champion, who will soon return to the Bundesliga basketball finals in the playoffs: Alba has a lot to do with negotiations with an international entertainment group that owns around 300 halls and stadiums around the world. In the absence of comparable alternatives in the city, the club needs Anschutz-Halle, but the opposite is less true for the owner and landlord.

Because Anschutz earns more from music events than from basketball games. “Concerts have a different economic size than sports events. We generate a completely different rental income here than in the case of sports. See how much the concert tickets are and how much are the tickets for Alba. It’s a different business, “said Moritz Hillebrand, spokesman for Anschutz Entertainment Group in Berlin, rbb | 24.

Plan any backlogs due to postponed concerts

Also: Due to a break in Corona, many shows were left behind, which are now being made up for. This is reported not only by Hillebrand, but also by the concert organizers and other hall operators with whom rbb | 24 talked – you are kidding. After years of doing nothing, the customer demand for live concerts is enormous and the arenas are properly booked. After a weak or nonexistent business in the last two years due to the crown, operators are now happy to take what they can with them.

Some examples from the coming weeks and months: You pay at least 75 euros for the R’n’B superstar Alicia Keys show at the Mercedes-Benz Arena, for the Backstreet Boys from 85 euros and for the Pet Shop show, which has been postponed several times. Boys in June cost 149 euro. For comparison: in the first semi-final match between Berlin and Ludwigsburg, tickets cost from 15.50 to 101 euros – the latter are a few so-called “court seats” at the very edge of the field.

Prices are in line with the market as the niche sport of basketball remains one of the many pastimes on the Spree – despite Alba’s tremendous successes in recent years and its reputation outside of Berlin. At popular sports events, basketball players compete against six major clubs from the premier league: Hertha and Union, Füchse, Volleys and Eisbären. The latter are owned by Anschutz and attract many more spectators to the Mercedes-Benz Arena. This makes them more attractive as a “cash cow” – also because the catering income from around 30 home matches is much higher.

Arbitration cleared the dispute between Anschutz and Alba

When the arena, then O2-World, opened in September 2008, Alba and the polar bears moved in as long-term tenants. Alba’s first contract was 15 years, with a “joint option” for the next ten years – at least this is what Alba’s chairman of the supervisory board, Axel Schweitzer, said after signing it: “You can actually talk about 25 years.”

You can’t anymore today. If you calculate, your current contract should expire in 2023. A spokesman for Alba Berlin does not want to say anything about how long the lease agreement is in force. If you follow Thursday’s Senate presentation, the negotiating success is considered to be Alba being able to play at the Ostbahnhof next season – suggesting the deal will end before 2023.

Ongoing negotiations already have history. The club and Anschutz Entertainment Group had a dispute that was eventually resolved by an arbitration panel. Several sources from Berlin’s sports policy say: Alba pulled out a short straw. It was a lease issue. Alba Berlin and Anschutz are silent about the details, such a procedure is not public. “It is true that we and Alba had different views on some of the content of the contracts. The arbitral tribunal has explained it and we want to leave it at that “- said spokesman Anschutz Hillebrand rbb | 24.

Up to 45 home games

In the years since moving to Friedrichshain, Alba averaged over 10,000 paying supporters in home matches, the highest average attendance in Europe. The arena is an NBA level hall, when it’s full, the kettle hums – no other basketball in Germany has such a temple of entertainment. Regular rival FC Bayern is currently building them [br.de].

Dom Alba is also happy with the organizers of the Euroleague, the top-class and most attractive European basketball games – this is a condition for attracting the best players. The club that can participate is decided by a company operating on the basis of sports and economic criteria: the size of the hall and the presence of the media play a decisive role. Alba’s qualification for participation expires in the summer of 2023 – without the Mercedes-Benz Arena, it is difficult to imagine a Euroleague on the Spree in the next few years.

Problem: Alba has a huge number of matches thanks to the Bundesliga, Euroleague and the Cup. This season, up to 45 matches will be played in Berlin. This complicates planning for the owner of Anschutz and weakens demand – especially in the Bundesliga. Despite its success, Alba’s average viewership has declined in recent years, which could also be seen ahead of Corona. Sold out games, as was the case with Bayern or Bamberg, are now the absolute exception. In the Bundesliga, the club is still at the top in terms of numbers, but the arena with over 14,500 seats still feels too big on many evenings.

More games at Max-Schmeling-Halle?

The first alternative would be Max-Schmeling-Halle in Prenzlauer Berg, which seats around 8,500 people. Sports enthusiasts in particular would like Alba to return to the building with a curved roof. Alba has been a champion eight times here, with Harnisch, Pesic, Alexis, Rödl and Femerling. Alba always returns to its former homeland when the Mercedes-Benz Arena is busy – there have been two games this season.

According to the rbb information, there may be more of them in the future, at least that is what the responsible people are discussing. How much would be possible? The head of Velomax’s operating company, Sebastian Rüß, took the time to make a phone call, which is not allowed to quote. His official reply was that he did not want to comment on this topic.

“It is almost impossible for three teams to play for Max-Schmeling-Halle permanently,” said Thomas Haertel, president of the Berlin Sports Association, assessing the situation in an interview with rbb | 24. Two long-term tenants, Füchse-Handballer and BR Volleys, have had or have had a total of 44 visits to the house this season. There are also concerts.

The experience at the arena, which opened in 1996, is certainly closer, more intense and louder than at the Mercedes-Benz Arena – but no longer fits the club’s ambitions. “For Alba Schmeling Hall, it would be a step backwards, not only in terms of audience but also in terms of marketing opportunities. In view of the successes of recent years, but also the club’s enormous commitment to school sports and other areas of society, such a step back would be a problem of a step back, ”said Stefan Förster, spokesman for sports policy of the FDP parliamentary group in the House of Representatives.

If Alba is no longer able to continue playing at the Mercedes-Benz Arena, he sees the Schmeling Hall and possibly the Velodrome as temporary fixes at best. In fact, the cycling and concert hall on Landsberger Allee can also be adapted for basketball, so it can accommodate around 8,200 people.

FDP sports politician: “It doesn’t work without the bridging option”

According to the rbb | 24 research, it seems doubtful whether Alba Berlin will remain in the Ostbahnhof arena in the long term. A spokeswoman for the Senate Home Affairs Administration told rbb | 24 that Alba was assisted in finding a solution beyond the upcoming season without explaining what the solution might look like.

Several members of the Sports Commission in the Berlin House of Representatives are also demanding this support. This also includes exploring the construction of a new arena, said spokesman for SPD’s parliamentary group sports policy Dirk Liebe. “I am convinced that Berlin could use a different hall for around 9 to 10,000 spectators to compete with the Mercedes-Benz Arena and the Max Schmeling Hall,” said deputy Dennis Buchner (SPD).

In talks with rbb | 24, this was also supported by the spokeswoman for the sports policy of the Left Group Claudia Engelmann, the president of the Berlin State Sports Association Thomas Härtel and the politician FDP Förster. Not only Alba men were allowed to play there, but also women who had recently been promoted to the Bundesliga, as well as the women’s teams Volleys and Foxes and Netzhoppers, as suggested by several sports politicians.

“After all, the problem is not so much financing as finding the right area. Then it’s time to end. Ideally, a minimum of five years can be assumed, ”said Förster. And even if the decision to build a new hall is made: it would not be possible without the bridging option. The Sports Committee plans to raise this issue at its next meeting on June 10.


Source: rbb

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