Aivar Riisalu who owns the financially troubled Saku Arena has asked the state for aid.
Riisalu who is one of the shareholders of Neckman Group which owns 67 percent of the arena.
In a letter signed by Riisalu and Aivar Sirepuu, CEO of Saku Arenam, Riisalu says that Saku Arena could use a similar aid as was provided by the government to Estonia’s main football stadium and its owner Aivar Pohlak for which the state allocated EEK 70 million.
“One could ask why Saku Arena is less important for the public than the football stadium,” writes Riisalu.
Among others, Riisalu proposed that the government could allow to reduce VAT on tickets to Saku Arena from 18 percent to 5 percent or to support the Arena with EEK 6 to 8 million a year until 2007.
Tallinn’s most modern multifunctional centre Saku Arena ended last year with a loss of EEK 10 million.
The Estonian government which has so far invested EEK 11.5 million in the arena currently owns 24.4 percent and the City of Tallinn 8.6 percent of the shares.
Neckman Group that acquired the loss-making operator in 2003 has promised to bring the arena back to profit in 2006.
Neckman Group is owned by two Estonian businessmen: Aivar Riisalu and Toonart Rääsk. Rääsk owns Hotel Metropol in Tallinn and has other property interests.
Riisalu has been a concert promotor and is a member of a popular rock group Meie Mees.
Neckman Group acquired its holding from Lemminkäinen Eesti, Estonian Basketball Federation and Estonian Olympic Committee.
The construction of Saku Arena cost EEK 210 million.
Source : BBN