Why the Initiative is needed
On the 6th of September 2012 Hans Furer, who was serving as a member of the Basel-Landschaft parliament at the time, proposed changing the name of the St. Jakobshalle to the Roger Federer Arena. On the 12th of September 2012 Basel Martina Bernasconi made the same proposal in the Basel Stadt parliament (Grosser Rat). The proposal was rejected in both parliaments. In February 2017 the six-time Oscar winner Arthur Cohn also called for the hall to be renamed. A further attempt by Martina Bernasconi on the 7th of February 2018 - following Roger Federer’s win at the Australian Open – also failed.
The Association ”Roger Federer Arena now!“ want a popular initiative
Because change is often a slow process in Switzerland, the initiators have decided to launch a people’s initiative in Basel, this time with the support of a number of well-known personalities from the region of Basel. The Association “Roger Federer Arena now!“ is convinced that the people of Basel will support the renaming of the hall, in honour of one of the greatest and most successful athletes the region has ever produced, and one of the most famous athletes in the world.
The initiators have carefully weighed the risks involved. How many athletes have fallen out of grace despite their good reputation? How many have ruined their reputation through their actions? But the initiators recognize Roger Federer as a steadfast, straightforward and empathetic personality, meriting the renaming of the St. Jakobshalle. Roger Federer is a universally popular figure. He has been named the fairest and most popular player by the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) multiple times. He has been named World Sportsman of the Year numerous times and received the title Swiss Person of the Year, among many other honours. With the Roger Federer Foundation he has proved that he cares actively about others and that it is important to him to aid others with his wealth.
A Roger Federer Arena is a greater honour than an honorary doctorate of Medicine
In 2017 Roger Federer received an honorary doctorate of Medicine from the University of Basel. This was the expression of a wish among the population of Basel to honour probably the most famous and successful person from Basel (along with Arthur Cohn and the architects Herzog and de Meuron). But, as important as this tribute was, it was not an adequate gesture. As a young boy Roger Federer was a ball boy in the St. Jakobshalle at the Swiss Indoors tournament. His ambition was kindled and he went on to win the same tournament nine times. The St. Jakobshalle in Münchenstein, the very village in which Roger Federer spent part of his youth, is an important cornerstone of his career. Honouring his achievements by renaming the hall is clearly the right thing to do.
All systems go
The initiators’ investigations have shown that neither the organisers of the Swiss Indoors, nor the St. Jakobshalle administration see any disadvantage in renaming the hall. However, they have deliberately left open whether they will actively support such a move.
In 2018 the Basel parliament (Grosser Rat) expressed concern that Roger Federer could demand payment for his ”brand” being used in the renaming. However, his representatives have clearly refuted this. Roger Federer himself has commented on the renaming of the hall, but the initiators have been informed that he is not opposed to the idea. And it is clear that he will not be actively involved in this initiative.
Popular initiative and petition
The initiators plan to gather the necessary signatures to officially hand in the people’s initiative in Basel as quickly as possible. At the same time, they plan to launch a petition that can be signed by all fans of Roger Federer worldwide. A website will be set up for this, together with a crowdfunding initiative for the campaign.
The initiators look forward to the vote
The launchers of this initiative look forward to a vote and are convinced that in this special case it will not be necessary for the person being honoured to have died before the hall can be named after them, as very often happens in Switzerland. A square or street is typically only named after a person after their death.
The city of Biel has already made an exception to this “rule” and renamed a street after Roger Federer. In Halle, Germany, where Roger Federer won the grass-court tournament nine times, an avenue has been named after him. No one has objected to the ”Rod Laver Arena“ in Melbourne, and many other stadiums have been named after tennis stars (Arthur Ashe Stadium, New York; Ken Rosewall Arena, Sydney).
The initiators are convinced that renaming the hall will not have a negative impact on its other uses and in fact will, instead, have a positive effect on the population of Basel, on tourism and on the sport of tennis.