By Frankie Sachs

The big step awaiting Hapoel comes next season, when it moves into its new home. Nestled into what has become Jerusalem’s sporting home in the Malha neighborhood, the Jerusalem Pais Arena is nearing competition. It is built in an ideal location for fans, tourists and visiting teams alike: next to the city’s iconic Teddy Stadium and the Jerusalem branch of the Israel Tennis Center, across from the Jerusalem Mall and near the railway station.

Though the new arena is less than two kilometers from the team’s current home, which was opened in 1985, it is light years ahead. The arena features 11,600 seats, four times as many as in Goldberg Arena, and all the modern amenities expected of a modern basketball venue. The Jerusalem Arena project is years in the making. The site was chosen as far back as 2005, but the building has only taken place in recent years. With an eye towards what the future might bring, the arena is being built to Euroleague standards. And playing in the Euroleague in the next few years is a goal that Allon has publicly set for his team.

Allon took control of the club in July after his joint bid landed a majority stake in the team. Partnering with Allon as minority owners are Arn Tellem, basketball super-agent; Amare Stoudemire, New York Knicks center; Eyal Chomski, founder and CEO of Adler Chomski, Israel’s largest media group; Howard Wietschner, a retired partner from Goldman Sachs; and Shalom Menora, owner of investment firm Menora Financial.

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