Storhamar Hockey have been one of the leading clubs in Norwegian hockey for the last 30 years, winning the playoffs six times (1995, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2004, 2008), as well as seven league championships. They play at the Hamar Olympic Amphitheatre, a large wooden building raised for the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer. The Arena has a seated capacity of 6000, but 7000 can be fitted in on big occasions.
Hockey came to Hamar in the mid fifties and in 1957 it got its own branch of Storhamar Idrettslag (Sports club). Despite being upstarts and having quite a modest infrastructure they took big strides fast. By 1963 they reached the second level of Norwegian hockey. Playing outdoors on naturally frozen ice the started to lag behind clubs from bigger cities who were moving to indoor facilities. Massive work in the youth department pushed the club along and in 1977 they secured promotion to the top league – with a 100% home grown squad! The promotion meant that artificial ice was a minimum requirement, something that was achieved through thousands of hours of voluntary work from the members. After two seasons amongst the Elite the then yellow and black Storhamar went back to division 2, but with the future mapped out. Within a couple of years they had managed to broker a deal for an indoor arena. In 1981 the new arena, Storhamar Ishall, was opened and the club celebrated with a second asuncion into the top level where they have remained since.
The arena gave the sport a big push, not only for the athletes but also for the paying spectators. As the team found their feet and started challenging new groups of fans came along. The old barn at times saw people standing three rows deep on the same row of terrace seeing nothing more than glimpses of their new heroes. Even though Storhamar were amongst the top teams throughout the late eighties and early nineties they struggled to make the absolute summit, regularly finishing second in the league and going out in the semis of the playoffs.
When it was announced that neighbouring Lillehammer would host the 94 Olympics lobbying started to get one of the arenas to Storhamar. The plan succeeded and in December 1992 they moved in to the new building. This helped the club and the sport immensely as people now could follow watch the games in comfort and with a great view. The clubs revenues grew drastically and soon the biggest names in the Norwegian game was knocking on the door. At the end of the first season the elusive first trophy was secured when the league championship came to Hamar. In the next few years Storhamar went from being a contender to a dominant force. In 1995 the first national championship was secured with a 3-0 whitewash of Stjernen in the final. It was retained the next season in similar fashion agains Vålerenga. The 1996-97-season went on to be the biggest in club history. The team took an incredible 68 points from a possible 72 in the league, and followed up with only one defeat in the playoffs.
Throughout the nineties Storhamar and Vålerenga (Oslo) built up a big rivalry sharing the titles between them. Storhamar came up big again in 2000 when they won the title in four games. They repeated in 2004 under dramatic circumstances. 7405 fans witnessed the first game seven in Norwegian play off History watching the home team take the title after a goal in second OT. Despite getting good results fans deserted the club and revenues were critically low, with the club bordering bankruptcy on more than one occasion. The last title to date came in 2008 when Frisk Asker were beaten in six games. Recurring economic problems forced the club to make cuts, and for a few seasons they had to contend with mid table finishes. After another crisis in 2013-14 it was all turned around. A group of local businessmen saved the immediate future of the club, and the rest was secured with a love affair between the fans and a very exciting group of players. Despite being unfancied the team challenged all the way for the league championship and took favourites Stavanger Oilers to game seven in the play off finals. Attendance records were broken all over the line as the crowds packed into the arena. All of Hamar are now on tenterhooks for a new season.
Hamar is a mid sized town after Norwegian standards with 30 000 people living in and around the central areas. It is the biggest town and administrative centre of the county of Hedmark. Geographically it’s situated by the banks of Norways biggest lake Mjøsa and about one and a half hours drive north of Oslo. The area of Storhamar is situated to the east of the town and was until the late sixties a village outside it. Then the boroughs borders were realigned and a big housing programme was started in the area making it the most densely populated area in Hedmark.
The history of Hamar is really a history of three different towns. Since time immemorial Åker Farm, to the west of todays town, had been centre of power and trade. Around the year 1000 this centre was moved eastwards and the town of Hamar was founded. A busy trading centre sprang up around the cathedral built on a promontory on a peninsula in the lake. The town thrived for nearly 500 years until it was sacked by the Swedes in the Northern Seven Years War in 1567. The cathedral and the bishops castle were severely damaged and the town fell into decline. Within 20 years the town had lost it’s markets and disappeared. The remains can be found in the Storhamar area and the ruins of the old cathedral has place of pride in the Storhamar badge.
To stimulate trade in the inland areas the government established new towns around the lake Mjøsa. Hamar got its charter in 1849 and with the introductions of steam boats to the lake, and later the arrival of the railway the town grew rapidly. It had it’s fair share of disasters in the early years with fires, floods and even a riot or two plaguing the young town. It came through with flying colours and in 1940 it was even the capital of Norway for a few hours. As the national assembly and government fled ahead of the nazi occupation they held a meeting in Hamars old town hall. In 1994 Hamar hosted several competitions during the Olympic Winter Games.
The economy of Hamar today is built around services and trade. The town is home to both local and regional government, as well as being host to the regional court of appeals, the national lottery company and a hospital. Hamar has been known as a sports town through most of it’s existence. In the early years speed skating was extremely popular and the ice was said to be exceptionally good here. The sport still has a special place in the towns heart as the indoor skating arena Vikingskipet holds pride of place in the cityscape. Football also took hold early on and since the late sixties Hamarkameratene has been a household name in Norwegian football playing several seasons in the top flight. The history of ice hockey is well documented in these pages, while woman’s handball played by our sister club next door has made big gains in later years.
What to see and do?
For the old Hamar you need only to walk a short distance from the hockey arenas, down to the lakeside where the ruins of the cathedral as well as an open air museum can be found. Restaurants and bars can be found downtown, an area that has been transformed in latter years. The city can also offer two large shopping centres, one on each end of town. When in the city centre make sure to visit the pier and hope to catch a glimpse of the worlds oldest paddle steamer Skibladner!
- Number of inhabitants: about 30 000 (in 2015)
- Land disposal: 351 km²
- Lowest altitude above sea level: 123m
- Highest altitude above sea level: 925 m
- Distance from Oslo to Hamar: 127 km
- Distance from Oslo Airport Gardermoen to Hamar: 80 km
Source: Hamar Kommune
The town of Hamar is easily reached by a combination of airplane and train, as well as by road.
The easiest airport is Oslo Airport (OSL) about 80km from Hamar, and from there you could use a train-service to Hamar (about 1 hr).
Oslo is also served by two other airports, Rygge (RYG) and Torp (TRF), on the south side of Oslo. From those airports you first have to get to Oslo S (Oslo central railway station) by bus or train, and a new train to Hamar from Oslo S.
Train schedule and tickets