That explains it. But the O2 is a great stadium. And when I was there it was sold out or very near so. Admittedly, that was for a Slavia/Sparta rivalry game, but it seemed the games Lev played there in the playoffs were pretty near capacity as well. So, it seems there is a market for larger stadiums. I was only in Tipsport for a couple of Lev games, which drew well, but not to capacity. I would assume Sparta would draw better there. I also learned never wear a Slavia jersey to even a Lev game at Tipsort (I had come straight from the O2 for the Slavia/Sparta game so didn't have time to stop at the hotel and change into my Lev jersey). That does not go over well.
Sure, there's something to be said for nostalgia, but Tipsport isn't just old (and kind of dismal), but very poorly designed from a seating standpoint. The best seats are in the second section up because everything else is bleachers or standing room, and the closest seats to the ice are a good 2 meters back on the same level, so there are essentially no "on the ice" seats. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the two games I saw there, but I'll take the O2 any day. And, even worse, the Kladno stadium had seats on only one side of the stadium which is pretty weird for hockey. I live by Chicago, and I don't understand why fans cling to the nostalgia of Wrigley Field, either. Give me the modern amenities and a better view of the ice/field any day.
I would say the capacity of Tisport arena is ok for czech hockey. Slavia really struggles in O2 during ordinary matches with average attendance around 3000 fans. It could seem like little paradox because Sparta is probably the club with highest budget in CZ league. But building the new stadium is generally expensive project, plus there is also the local factor - most of sparta supporters would not like to leave Holesovice area where both hockey and football teams are historically located, and what is even worse -- to share smth with Slavia. Btw part of the reason of Slavia low hockey attendance is the fact that they relocated from their historical area and people simply did not find the way to the new stadium....
I didn't get a chance to catch a game at the Zimni Stadion in Kladno but did walk around the exterior and visit the fan shop. From what I know about Kladno and its economy (and I apologize if I come off as ignorant here, it is definitely not my intention to do so) the state of it is not so surprising. I would imagine that for a large overhaul of facilities (in a similar manner to how they fixed up Madison Square Garden) it would need not only funding from the city and/or the Czech gov't but would potentially also lead to increased ticket prices?
I was fortunate enough to attend a HC Kosice game at Ladislav Trojak/Steel Arena in Kosice and was impressed with the venue. The fan shop was disappointingly small even compared to a local rink that hosted a Central Hockey League team/currently hosts an NAHL team; I would say the same about the Kladno arena but then again I'm approaching it from an American perspective and needing to remember Jagr doesn't play there right now. I also realize that I need to keep in mind that HC Kosice is one of the most successful Slovak teams; I would be interested in seeing the arena of say Zilina or Piestany and compare that to Liberec or Budejovice.
As mentioned above I would imagine that beyond funding; a major challenge for cities in the Czech and Slovak leagues would be building a new arena in areas that wouldn't geographically alienate fans. It's not the best example because it's Phoenix and thus a non-traditional hockey market but when they build a new arena in a suburb on the opposite side of the city center; which turned out to have a much smaller interest than the people in the previous area, the team began it's long streak of financial problems. A lot of the Czech/Slovak cities are old and historic and there's often simply not enough space near the center to accommodate a facility. Would any Czech or Slovak native here say that that is accurate?
O2 is a bit of an outlier. It was built because of the 2004 WCH, cost the Czech Rebublic its three or four annual budgets (), has got a reputation as one of the worst recent examples of corporate welfare and generally doesn't correspond with the economic reality of our country.
They wasted around 1 billion USD on that arena (mostly interests), 7x over the initial budge. The most expensive hockey arena in the world.