On September 30, Lausanne HC took on the Philadelphia Flyers in a preseason exhibition game. The game may have started as a friendly, but it soon took on much more significance as Lausanne HC jumped out to a 4-0 lead. The Flyers battled back and closed the gap to 4-3, in what became an international classic. The defeat marked the first loss in Flyers’ history to a club outside the NHL.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”6298″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Hours before the club took to the ice in one of the biggest games in their history, Lausanne HC invited me to sit down with members of the front office. I was able to meet with Sacha Weibel (CEO) Pär Bergman, General Manager of Lausanne Arena, (the entertainment hosting subsidiary of Lausanne Hockey Club SA), and Thierry Meyer (Director of Communications).
As I walked up to the arena on a hot September day, the sheer size and quality of the facilities immediately struck me. Thierry Meyer showed me around the arena, which was undergoing final preparations for the game. We then moved over to the club offices where I met with Weibel and Bergman. The passion for the club, arena, and the community were very palpable.
Sacha Weibel, the leading force behind the new 10,000 seat arena, was incredibly proud of the industry-leading facility.
On the wall of Weibel’s office is a drawing of the arena that he envisioned several years ago. The resulting development is a cathedral to hockey. Working closely with the club and the architects ensured that the fan experience was one of the best in Europe. One of the unique aspects of the arena is the fan wall. This is an area behind the visiting net that is standing room only where the most passionate fans can view the game.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_single_image image=”6299″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center”][vc_column_text]In addition to creating a unique fan experience, the organization ensured that they built the core values of community and environmental sustainability into the fabric of the arena. The Vaudoise is the first arena in Switzerland to be entirely environmentally neutral and produces more energy than it uses.
The managing team did not stop there but took the additional step of making the arena a plastic-free facility. This is extremely impressive when you consider all the amenities that were built along with the ice rink. The complex also includes an indoor practice rink, a community outdoor rink, and a public restaurant. The complex will also include three swimming pools, a diving pool, a table tennis facility, a fencing facility, which will be open in 2021.
The focus on the environment does not stop with the building. Weibel is making the environment and sustainability part of the culture of the organization. He wants his players to think, “driving an electric car is cooler than a muscle car.” Weibel, along with other members of the front office, practices what they preach, and drive electric cars to the rink.
A combination of public funds from multiple municipalities and private investments (around 10-15%) were used to finance the roughly $233 million (230 million Swiss Francs) project. This mixture of public and private funds ensures that the community and the private equity stakeholders are committed to making the arena a success.
The Vaudoise Arena will help support the 57 international sport federations that call Lausanne home and will be a key venue in both the upcoming Youth Olympic Games and the IIHF World Championships. The Vaudoise complex will host many events for the Youth Olympic Games, including the opening and closing ceremonies, ice hockey, figure skating, and short track speed skating.
The IIHF World Championships will be held in Zurich and Lausanne in the spring of 2020. The Vaudoise will host some of the most exciting games of the tournament, including a group play match between Canada and Sweden and two quarter-final games.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row equal_height=”yes” content_placement=”middle”][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]The impressive performance by Lausanne HC against the Flyers is just the beginning of a promising future for the club and city of Lausanne. Sitting on the shores of Lake Geneva, overlooking the French Alps, Lausanne is the most beautiful city to enjoy elite hockey. A return to the Olympic Capital and the Vaudoise Arena is undoubtedly on the top of my travel plans.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”6301″][/vc_column][/vc_row]