As Turkish football club Galatasaray finally moves into its new Turk Telecom Arena home, those involved in the project expect the club will profit from the move both on and off the pitch.
A football club has to have good reasons for ditching its stadium to move to a new one. Especially if the former one is a 47-year-old building that has seen some triumphant moments. For Galatasaray, Turkey’s most decorated football club with 17 domestic league titles and two European trophies (UEFA Cup and Super Cup in 2000), moving to the new Türk Telekom Arena from the Ali Sami Yen Stadium did not happen just because the board fancied a change. Instead they revealed that the move was essential to the club’s long-term financial viability.
For many years, Galatasaray sought ways to build a new stadium that would boost the club’s income, both improving matchday revenue and offering ways for the ground to be used on non-football days. Spending the last decade labouring under a heavy burden of debt (€123 million as of May 2010), Galatasaray saw this project as its saviour. “The stadium project will save Galatasaray’s future in every way,” then-chairman Ozhan Canaydin was quoted as saying in the club’s official magazine in 2006.
The 52,650-seat Türk Telekom Arena, which cost €160 million to build, has more than double the capacity of the Ali Sami Yen Stadium. Even the number of VIP seats at the new arena (4,845 VIP seats) is almost one-fifth of the previous stadium’s modest 23,000 capacity.
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Article published by kind permission of Stadia Magazine, March 2011