Jyväskylä is the sports capital of Finland – the whole city is involved in exercise and its promotion. The new Hippos offers city residents and clubs a great setting for sports and professional training. The area’s current sports facilities are outdated and their renovation is not economically viable.
Most importantly, the new Hippos will provide facilities and training opportunities for a wider range of sports – nearly twenty of them. The number of sports slots available will increase by 50%, as the new sports facilities are modern and adaptable. At the same time, we will have more recreational opportunities for all users. Hobbies and club activities for children and young people will continue in the new premises at a reasonable price.
In addition to the new sports centre, skills centre, ice arena and practice ice rinks, an experiential sports park will be built in the outdoor area.
The long appeal process, which delayed the project, was completed in February 2023. Hippos Ky, a company owned by the City of Jyväskylä and Sepos Oy, is now taking the project forward. The delay caused by complaints has changed the conditions for the start of the project, so the financial and implementation plans in particular need to be renegotiated. The aim is to get a start-up decision for the project in spring 2023.
When completed, Hippos will be not only a meeting place for city’s residents, but also the Nordic region’s most significant centre for exercise, sports from hobby to top-level, health promotion, well-being and events. In addition to this, it will combine physical activity research and technological product development into an internationally significant entity.
With its year-round – and nearly round-the-clock – operations, Hippos will become a national and international attraction factor in Jyväskylä.
Some of the training facilities in the new Hippos are designed to be flexible and adaptable. This enables a wider range of sports enthusiasts and clubs to rent and utilise the facilities.
Hippos will provide an internationally high-quality framework for research in the field, technological product development and business operations. Hippos will also be an inspiring environment for close innovation cooperation between businesses, educational institutions and the city. The operations created by the new premises will employ an estimated 600 people directly and over 300 indirectly.
Research and teaching
Top sports and coaching
The total investment in the project is approximately 200 million euros. The city is investing 23 million euros in the company that owns Hippos and becoming one of the company’s shareholders. For the next 30 years, the city undertakes to spend 5 million euros purchasing sports slots for sports clubs. The fee is tied to the cost of living index. In addition to this, the city is committed to paying a maximum of 1 million euros per year for sports equipment in the facilities to be used by sports clubs.
As a shareholder of Hippos Ky, the city receives income from the company and property taxes totalling approximately 3 million euros per year. Hippos will generate approximately 5 million euros in indirect revenue annually as jobs and tax revenue, and up to 10 million euros during construction..
Hippos will continue to be for everyone: the city’s residents and clubs. It also provides a framework for top-level sport and international research and innovation in the field of sport and health.
Every year, clubs and users continue to express their wishes for facilities and slots to the city. The city will reserve and hand over the slots to the clubs. The clubs pay a deductible for their slots. At the new Hippos, the city will offer a 50% increase in sports slots compared to the current one. The operator of Hippos Ky is responsible for everything other than the city’s use slots..
An estimated 600 permanent jobs and 330 indirect jobs will be created at Hippos. Of these, about a third are entirely new jobs. In addition to this, construction is creating employment in Jyväskylä for approximately 1,110 person-workyears and indirectly 793 person-workyears.
The City Council made a decision-in-principle on the project in 2018. Since then, several decisions specifying the principles have been made, which were appealed to the Administrative Court and the Supreme Administrative Court. The appeals were rejected and the Supreme Administrative Court did not grant leave to appeal in early 2023.
As the complaints have been dropped, the city will clarify the continuation of the project with the financiers. The City is committed to taking the project forward, but recognises that costs have risen significantly from the baseline due to higher interest rates and construction costs, for example.
If the Hippos project does not proceed as planned, the renovation of existing facilities or the construction of new facilities will require a completely new planning and decision-making process.
The aim is to provide residents with healthy, functional and safe premises. The existing facilities are in such poor condition that their repair is not economically viable. In addition to this, the inclusion of technology that meets current standards (e.g. air conditioning, VSS facilities) in old buildings would in practice reduce the space available at the sports facilities. The new facilities can also be used in a more versatile way than the old ones, which gives more opportunities for more hobby clubs.
The new premises will include higher education institutions’ teaching and research facilities, the Centre of Expertise in Physical Activity and Well-being, and facilities for international top-level research. In the old premises, the needs of these operators cannot be met either.
Ky, or limited partnership, is a typical form of real estate ownership. The City of Jyväskylä and new investors (Sepos and Taaleri Sijoitus) are represented in the company. Correspondingly, of the 12 or so major sports facility construction projects currently underway in Helsinki, only two are of owned by the city.
As part of the project, investors will receive the right to purchase approximately 24,000 floor square metres of residential plots from the city. Some of the building rights are located in Hippos, some in Kivelänranta and some in an as-yet unspecified area. This is a right to purchase plots of land, in which case the plots are sold at the normal price level of the city. For the city, this is not a financial commitment, but a contribution to the start of the project. The transfer of plots of land is subject to the same normal city conditions as other land buyers.
Hippos is planned to have accommodation. Accommodation is being negotiated on and takes into account the reasonable accommodation costs for sports clubs and athletes. Due to COVID-19, the hospitality and hotel industries are wary of starting new projects.
The number of buses and pedestrian and cycling routes will be increased. Driving in the area will be reduced. Parking spaces for 830 cars will be built in the area. Jyväs-Parkki Oy is responsible for parking. The neighbouring Valmet needs more parking spaces during the day and the Hippos users need more parking spaces in the evenings and at weekends.
These buildings will remain in the ownership of the city. Their further use is being investigated by sports services. The challenge is the poor condition of the buildings and the functionality of transport in the area.
The City Council made a 2018 Commitment to Physical Activity, which guarantees the affordable mobility of children and young people, the regular use of facilities by clubs, and the well-being of the adult and ageing population.
A joint agreement has been made on sports slots in Hippos, in which usage slots and user fees have been agreed. Rental prices are tied to the cost-of-living index which ensures the prices remain reasonable.
The city will sign a 30-year contract and commits to paying a total of 5 million euros per year for slots. The city also receives company income and property taxes from Hippos, which are approximately 3 million euros a year.
Clubs now pay about 1.3 million euros per year for the premises. This amount is not included in the City’s Sports and Recreation Agreement (5 million euros) and does not reduce its amount.
Sepos Oy invests money and develops companies that promote an active lifestyle. Sepos Oy is acting as an agent and coordinator in the Hippos project and participating in marketing, operational development and construction. Sepos is owned by Timo Everi, Ilkka Kilpimaa and Taaleri Sijoitus Oy.
Taaleri Sijoitus Oy invests and insures. Taaleri Sijoitus Oy owns 30% of Sepos Oy. The shares of the parent company Taaleri Oyj are listed on the Nasdaq Helsinki Oy stock exchange.
The total cost of the project is approximately 200 million euros, of which the City of Jyväskylä’s share is 23 million euros. The rest will be financed by external investors and loan and financing arrangements made by Hippos Ky.
Hippos Ky is responsible for arranging additional funding. In the company’s contracts, the city is not obliged to participate in the additional funding.
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Director of Business Development and Employment
+358 40 581 9958
Project Manager, Innovation and Growth
+358 50 413 7028
Project Manager, Hippos
+358 40 487 2577