- City of Jyväskylä Mayor Timo Koivisto, tel. 050 336 2819
- Director of Business Development and Employment Anne Sandelin, tel. 040 581 9958
- Hippos project manager Kari Halinen, tel. 050 573 7034
- Lehto Group Plc Executive Vice President, Business Support Services Timo Reiniluoto, tel. 040 550 1656
- Sepos Ltd CEO Jouni Alho, tel. 050 305 4104,
- Taaleri Plc CEO Robin Lindahl, tel. 050 595 9616
The Hippos project, a future centre of excellence of excercise, sports, and research, is a step closer to realization. Sepos Ltd, a company owned by Taaleri Investments Ltd, Timo Everi and Ilkka Kilpimaa, has made the City of Jyväskylä the offer of a 43 million euro investment into the Hippos project and the Jyväskylän Hippos limited partnership company. This limited partnership is composed of the City of Jyväskylä and the Lehto Group Plc. If negotiations with the prospective financiers prove successful, construction in the area can commence as early as the fall of 2021.
– It seems we are about to secure private financing for the re-focused Hippos project. Details are still being hammered out, and proceeding with the altered plans requires the approval of the Jyväskylä city council. Nevertheless, this is a significant step ahead in terms of getting Hippos done, says Mayor Timo Koivisto.
For the city, the project is of great importance, as it will result in the creation of the most important exercise sports, wellbeing, health promotion and research hub in the Nordic Countries in Jyväskylä. Hippos will add to the city’s attractiveness, sow the seeds of new businesses and offer inhabitants unique opportunities for their leisure.
Behind the offer, a re-specified Hippos plan
The Hippos plan has been changed in response to investor feedback from negotiations conducted over 2020. The costs of the altered plan will come to about 25% less than the original plan. The total cost is estimated at about 150 million euro, for a building area of about 100,000 gross square metres. The project includes a thoroughly renovated and expanded ice arena, an exercise centre with gymnastics facilities, practice ice rinks, as well as a know-how centre with general services as well as educational and research premises.
The original project was estimated to cost about 200 million euro for a floor area of about 160,000 gross square metres, including a multi-purpose arena, a football stadium, an exercise centre, a separate gymnastics house and an arena centre.
– Financing partnerships such as this are extremely important to the city in this economic situation. With the changed plans, the city’s required investment is reduced proportional to the reduced floor area. But despite the lesser space, Hippos will offer unique opportunities for both inhabitants’ sports activities as well as elite sports coaching and research, says Jyväskylä Director of Business Development and Employment Anne Sandelin.
The re-focused Hippos project is an option for re-developing the area that makes both substantial and economic sense for the city.
– The condition and usability of the old sporting premises of Hippos has continually diminished over the last years. If the city wanted to rebuild and renovate these facilities itself, the economic burden on the city would be much greater, and the current plan for a centre of exercise, research and know-how would be beyond our capabilities, says Sandelin.
The Hippos financing package
The complete financing for the Hippos project would thus be made up of the 43 million euro investment from Sepos Ltd as well as capital shares from Lehto Group Plc and the City of Jyväskylä. The rest of the necessary financing will be obtained through loans and financing arranged by the Hippos limited partnership. The Lehto Group Plc also remains attached as the prime contractor for the building project.
– Hippos is a unique project in the Finnish context, in every way. It’s built on a strong foundation of private financing and a lot of work has been done to realize it, even through the uncertainty caused by the coronavirus epidemic. Sepos Ltd and Taaleri have extensive experience of developing sports and exercise facilities as well as real estate investment, so the financing offer we’ve now received means a strong boost to our chances of carrying out the project, says Timo Reiniluoto.
Sepos Ltd is a company founded in 2014, operating in real estate development and investments into companies within the active living value chain. Taaleri is a financial conglomerate whose parent, Taaleri Plc, is listed with Nasdaq Helsinki Ltd. At the end of 2019, Taaleri oversaw assets of 7.1 billion euro for 5,500 wealth management clients.
– The Hippos project will unite actors from Finnish sports research, education and coaching under one roof, making up a vital hub of development for Finnish elite sports as well as offering excellent facilities for local club and hobbyist sports. It’s really a unique whole, and the long-term commitment of established actors will build it up into a project that also attracts investor interest, says Sepos Ltd chief executive Jouni Alho.
The Jyväskylä city council will consider the amended project before the end of the year
The amended Hippos project will be put up for decision by the Jyväskylä city council during the final months of the year. In the background, construction planning for the amended project is already going forward. More specific planning for the exercise centre will be started in conjunction with sports clubs.
The timetable is currently estimated such that the negotiations and contracts necessary for execution and financing, as well as all decisions by the various parties, will be complete by the spring of 2021. Construction can thus commence in the fall of 2021. The construction is estimated to take from two and a half to three years.
Hippos illustration of the modified plan. Picture: Lehto Group/Kai Ruuhonen