The tought of covering the playground of the Norwegian Masters with a roof was mentioned a year ago. Now it's time to move from the ideas to the solid plans.
"We are now starting working actively with this project, and we'll have an internal meeting with representatives of RBK and Lerkendal Stadium AS at the end of this week," RBK Managing Director Nils Skutle says to rbkweb.com.
It is still unclear when the new roof can be finished.
"We haven't made a schedule yet," Skutle says.
Roof neccessary due to prolonged season This year, RBK starts the season as early as Feb 12th. Longer and longer seasons "forces" the club to get a roof to protect the field from rain and snow.
"In the years to come, the season seems to be lasting from mid-February to mid-December. While only the Champions League matches were played in December earlier, there is now UEFA-cup group play until mid-December with the following 3rd round in February. Then there's Royal League. If we are to have matches under acceptable conditions, we need this roof," Skutle continues.
Rosenborg has started examining different solutions.
"We have visited some stadiums. There are not that many with roofs, but we have examined those in Germany and Holland plus the Parken in Copenhagen. We have gotten some information on the experiences these clubs have had, both when it comes to tending to the grass and staging events other than football matches," Skutle says (picture).
"Events other than football matches" can be several things. The past few christmases has for example seen indoors biathlon in Arena AufSchalke in Gelsenkirchen, where last season's Champions League final was played. Nils Skutle thinks of more traditional arrangements at Lerkendal. Larger concerts will hopefully be an important source of income, and hence contributing to the roof being a profitable investment.
"We need to have several businesses. Lerkendal can be Norway's largest indoor hall if we close the corners," the Director says.
Completely closed-in arena with artificial grass Yes, you heard correct: Rosenborg have changed their mind. When New Lerkendal was built in 2001-02, the club chose an extremely open solution, but now the plan is to merge the four free-standing tribunes.
"This shall be done properly, and then we'll have to close the corners," Skutle states.
A fully closed stadium will give the field less sun and air, which might lead to the grass dying and needing replacement. RBK are prepared - and anyway, Skutle thinks that the natural grass will be replaced in some year's time, regardless of the roof.
"We think that artificial grass will come sooner or later. It is a question of when it comes and not if it comes. And at the same time, there is no doubt that Lerkendal will have more uses should the grass be artificial," he says.
Price tag: €12 million New New Lerkendal will not be a cheap investment.
"I think that the total cost will be somewhere around €12 million. The steel prices, for one thing, have risen heavily the last year, making the project more expencive," Skutle says.
Another reason why this season's Champions League participation was highly welcome.
"Naturally, an additional €2.9 - 3.5 million in fresh capital gives us better chances of venturing into such a project," Skutle states, and hopes that the new roof will draw even more spectators to Lerkendal:
"Everyone understands that we could have created a better atmosphere around the Esbjerg and Vålerenga matches in mid-February if we'd had a roof. At the same time, there's economy in it. With a roof, the public wouldn't need to worry about the weather, and we could have had a full house against Vålerenga. Now it isn't likely with more than 10.000."
All in all, the roof will be a profitable investment for Rosenborg.
"We cannot build this roof if it doesn't pay. That's obvious," Skutle ends.