The main tenants of the arena are local ice hockey clubs Ilves and Tappara. Both of them are among the all-time most successful teams in a sport that many Finnish people like to watch. In Tampere, there is an endlessly ongoing debate about the fact which of these two rivals is better – the answer often depends on the person.
As the Nokia Arena was opened in December 2021, the men’s professional teams of Ilves and Tappara left the legendary Hakametsä – the oldest Finnish ice hall. The first season in the new arena was by all means a success to both of the clubs as Tappara won the Finnish national championship for the first time since 2017 and Ilves finished third for the first time since 2001.
This year, both clubs are again battling hard for top spots in the Finnish league. The final results will be decided in the spring, when the best clubs of the regular season get to play a couple of playoff series against each other. A fixture of Ilves and Tappara in the playoffs is possible and thus highly anticipated. Especially a best-of-seven final between the rivals would be truly a huge and an exceptional event in the city, given that Ilves has not won the championship since 1985 while Tappara has been on the top almost every year for the last 10 years. Now that Ilves has finally climbed back to the top of the league, the rivalry between the two has become even more intense.
The new home of hockey in Tampere
Many people are into ice hockey in Tampere. The average number of spectators are the highest in the league – by the time I write this text, Ilves has the highest average while Tappara is second. During the 2022–2023 season, both clubs have had averagely over 7300 people watching their games, which means that had the games been played in the old arena, the ice hall would have been sold out at every single game.
Particularly the rivalry games between Ilves and Tappara are often sold out many weeks earlier than the actual game takes place. On top of that, in the playoffs the arena should be full of people every night. Once the arena is full, I highly recommend you to arrive in the arena way before the puck is set to drop. This is simply because there is actually only one place to get inside the arena. In that case, I personally prefer arriving at the arena at least 30 minutes before the puckdrop and I then spend the waiting time by watching the teams take warmups.
Playing on a large-scale multi-purpose arena located in the city centre, of course, costs a lot for the clubs, which means that the ticket prices are not particularly low. Nevertheless, in most games there are discounts for students so that they can buy tickets at a lower price. The cheapest tickets for students may cost some 10 euros. The tickets also include public transport in Tampere, starting from three hours before the puckdrop and ending five hours after the game has begun.
There is no simple answer to a question about which places are the best in arena. That very much depends on what you want to see and experience. The strength of the lower stands is the fact that the seats are so close to the ice that at least in the lowest seat rows you can almost feel like you were part of the game. In case you want to analyze the structures of the game and see the pregame show better, I would prefer seats in the upper stands of the arena. Behind the nets there are fan sections that are meant for standing and creating European-style fan culture to the sports event. The places for accessible people are located near the fan section of Ilves fans.
The arena offers other world-class events, as well
While the former Hartwall Arena in Helsinki is currently closed due to its Russian ownership ties, the importance of Tampere as an organizer of large indoor events has been highlighted. Queen, Adam Lambert, Sting and Andrea Bocelli are among world-famous artists that have performed at Nokia Arena. In the spring of 2023, Volbeat and Robbie Williams are due to be added to that list. An ambitious ice ballet called “Lumikuningatar” also took place in the arena this Christmas.
When it comes to other sports events than Liiga fixtures, the ice hockey world championship tournament was played there last May and in the autumn the NHL played two games in Tampere. The IIHF Worlds are due to be played at Nokia Arena again this year, after the tournament was moved from Russia to Finland and Latvia last spring. Last year, I worked as a volunteer in the tournament’s media center.
The Paidia space and much more
In addition to large events organized in the arena, there is an 600-place hotel located in the same building than the arena. It also has 6 rooms that have corridors in the upper stands inside the arena, which is obviously quite cool and unique. The hotel also has an restaurant, meeting rooms and a fabulous terraced roof that is open in summer.
Other facilities at the arena include apartments, a casino and a restaurant as well as office spaces, box seats and a 250-place restaurant called Stefan’s and a 400-place Eventum room for different kinds of events during and outside larger events at the arena. The fan shops of Ilves and Tappara are also located in the arena and they are open outside the games, as well. A practice rink is located partly under the arena. The University Community has also rent a space called Paidia that hosts various events regarding the Tampere University.
Even though some events at the arena may be too expensive for many students, the arena has made me feel like Tampere has grown quite significantly during the last couple of years. The Nokia Arena has made it possible to arrange large indoor events in my hometown, which has also meant new types of possibilities to enhance the public image of the whole city. As an enthusiastic ice hockey follower, I have liked the fact that the arena is located in the city centre. And while studying at the city centre campus of the Tampere University, you simply cannot ignore the world-class multi-purpose arena standing next to the university.