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Hydro celebrates five remarkable years

Glasgow's SSE Hydro celebrates its fifth birthday in September 2018, after having welcomed more than 5.2m visitors through its doors

By Gordon Masson on 24 Sep 2018

SSE Hydro, Glasgow

image © The SSE Hydro

The jewel in Glasgow’s crown, the SSE Hydro, celebrates its fifth birthday this month having surpassed all expectations since the £125 million (€139m) arena opened with a concert by local hero Rod Stewart in 2013.

By the time the fifth anniversary rolls around on 30 September, the 13,000-capacity venue will have hosted 639 event performances, welcoming more than 5.2 million visitors through its doors – equivalent to the entire population of Scotland.

Those numbers have consistently seen the Hydro rank among the top five venues globally, but management of the arena are keen not to rest on their laurels and have revealed ambitious expansion plans for the Scottish Event Campus, where the Hydro sits alongside the 3,000-cap. Armadillo (which was also designed by renowned architects Foster + Partners), and the adjoining SEC Centre exhibition halls, which have a combined capacity of about 22,000.

In July, the SEC applied for planning permission for a £150 million (€167m) scheme that would see the construction of new conference suites and a significant extension of its exhibition space. “The new conference facility would allow us to stage two events simultaneously, or large conferences on a scale that we currently can’t offer,” explains SEC chief executive Peter Duthie. “We believe our expansion project will provide a significant economic impact, not just to Glasgow and Scotland, but to the UK.”

“Five years, over five million people through the doors, the SSE Hydro has exceeded all expectations”

Those plans are likely to receive a sympathetic hearing from Glasgow’s local authority, as the impact the Hydro has had on the city, and Scotland as a whole, is exceptional. Since the building opened, the nearby area of Finnieston has been gentrified to cater for people making their way to concerts and other SEC events, and no fewer than 48 new bars and restaurants have opened as a result of “the Hydro effect”, leading to Finnieston winning the crown for hippest area in the UK, according to the Times.

Additionally, the local area has more than 1,000 hotel rooms within a five-minute walk of the Hydro, with more hotel projects due to begin construction on the arena’s doorstep.

SEC’s head of live entertainment, Debbie McWilliams, says: “Five years, over five million people through the doors, the SSE Hydro has exceeded all expectations. It stands as a beacon of city partnership and the people of Glasgow have responded by making it consistently one of the busiest arenas in the world.

“The success of the SSE Hydro has made an impact, not just to Finnieston, but to Glasgow’s wider economy – we’re firmly placed now as a world-class venue.”


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