Future home of Hapoel Jerusalem awaits finance committee approval

Future home of Hapoel would not meet Euroleague requirements.

Hapoel JM 298.88 (photo credit: AP)
Hapoel JM 298.88
(photo credit: AP)
The Jerusalem municipality, Mifal Hapayis and the Sports Betting Council announced an agreement on Wednesday to build a new NIS 130 million multipurpose arena east of Teddy Stadium. The municipal finance committee is expected to give the final go-ahead on Thursday for a 5,500-capacity arena that will become Hapoel Jerusalem's home court, replacing Malha. While Mayor Uri Lupolianski "sees great importance in pressing forward in the building of the arena... that will allow Hapoel to take part in competitions such as the Euroleague," the current plans do not meet new Euroleague standards that are due to take effect next season. Beginning in 2007, the Euroleague will require all of its games to be played in arenas with at least 10,000 seats. In 2004, when Hapoel Jerusalem qualified to play in the Euroleague by winning the ULEB Cup, fans were looking forward to facing the best clubs in European basketball. However, with no arena in the capital that met the current Euroleague standard of 5,000 seats, Hapoel management decided not to play its home games at a suitable location outside of the city and the club did not join Europe's top professional league. A proposed expansion to the new arena has been discussed and plans have been prepared, but the increase from 5,500 seats to 10,000 seats has not been approved. Construction of the arena is expected to begin in 2007 and scheduled to take three years. Mifal Hapayis will pay the lion's share of the cost, NIS 105m., the Sports Betting Council will contribute NIS 20m. and the Jerusalem municipality will be responsible for the rest. Moriah, the city building and development corporation that will be responsible for construction, compared the future arena to one of the world's great sporting sites, but appeared unaware of the new Euroleague requirements. "Moriah is building Jerusalem its Madison Square Garden," Moriah CEO Yehiel Lavi said on Wednesday, saying that "the arena will be built according to the standards requested by the Euroleague."