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Electric Group details £1.5m refurb of former O2 Academy Newcastle

Independent music venue owner Electric Group has unveiled plans for the £1.5 million redevelopment of its newest acquisition NX, the former O2 Academy Newcastle.

Opening in October 2022, NX will be a “state-of-the-art 21st-century independent music venue”, to open in March 2022.

The company’s venue portfolio also includes Electric Brixton and SWX Bristol.

“After many years in the planning, I’m delighted to announce our exciting vision for the refurbishment of the O2 Academy Newcastle, which of course has a seminal history and we have the important task of curating the next stage of the venue’s development,” says Electric Group CEO Dominic Madden.

“NX will be a state-of-the-art 21st-century independent music venue. Our vision is to undertake a comprehensive refurbishment of the venue, with a focus on making the main room a more intimate gig experience, both for the music fan and the artist.

“Our vision is to undertake a comprehensive refurbishment, with a focus on making the main room a more intimate gig experience”

“Our plans include the creation of new standing mezzanine staircases on either side of the main room, and with access to an intimate standing platform within the existing balcony and with bars and access to a contained roof terrace for music fans to use.

“This redesign will improve sightlines for music fans and bring them closer to the stage. This 21st-century vision also fully respects the grandeur and history of the existing venue whilst putting the artist and fan experience front and centre of our plans.”

The live diary for NX is already open and is being overseen by Electric Group head of music Mike Weller.

“We operate with an independent mindset, shaping an easy and collaborative culture for promoters to embrace NX with as few financial strings attached as possible,” adds Madden.

“We will be investing substantially to make the venue production complete and we are focused on providing a perfect platform for shows so we can help promoters smash ticket sales.”

 


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Grassroots venues kickstart the rest of the engine

It might seem a bit odd for Music Venue Trust (MVT), the charity that acts to protect, secure and improve grassroots music venues in the UK, to be hosting the closing night party of the International Festival Forum (IFF). Actually, it makes a lot more sense to us, and to you, than you might initially think.

Music Venue Trust has a pretty exclusive mission around the needs of live music venues at grassroots level, but that work doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Over the last 20 months, it has become incredibly clear, if it wasn’t already obvious, that grassroots music venues are part of a vast ecosystem.

If we think of that ecosystem as a car engine, in our view the grassroots sector is the ignition system. If we don’t have grassroots music venues, our whole industry doesn’t have anything to kickstart the rest of the engine with the constant high voltage surge of new talent.

Glastonbury or the O2 might be the engine block of UK live music but [they need] The Hull Adelphi to emit a spark every so often

All the shiny carburettors, radiators and camshafts are important – they do the work that moves us from point A to point B. But all of them will sit there idle if we don’t actually have anything that starts the engine in the first place.

Glastonbury or the O2 arena might be the engine block of UK live music, but unless The Hull Adelphi emits a spark every so often we should be imagining a future in which they are sitting idle in a garage somewhere gathering dust.

At MVT, we particularly like this laboured and slightly bloated metaphor because we often get the response that the car is motoring along just fine. Which it is, or at least was. In the UK we have an incredibly successful £5.4 billion a year industry that has been significantly exceeding any expectations across the world stage for almost sixty years.

But that vehicle was already in motion, already started. Our concern has always been what happens to the whole engine if we let the ignition system disappear. Frankly, we have just seen it turned off temporarily by the Covid crisis. The problems that provoked are wide-ranging and will have a deep impact on our industry for many years to come.

Ask the artists you headline at your festivals where they started and why they started. Festivals need [grassroots music venues]

In the Covid crisis, we had to deal with the very real prospect that 83% of all the grassroots music venues in the country could permanently close and never reopen.

The possible loss that represents of potential next festival headliners for everyone, not just in the UK but right around the world, should be enough to make us all pause and think again about the value of what we have at the grassroots, how interconnected all of us actually are.

When a grassroots music venue closes, it’s a disaster for the local community, which for us is enough of a reason to fight against it. But even if you’re not in that local community, and you don’t directly feel that loss immediately, you, the festival community, will feel it in the loss of potential talent in the future.

Ask the artists you headline at your festivals where they started and why they started. Festivals need this ignition system as much as record labels, publishers, streaming platforms.

The venues are the bricks and mortar space in which the whole ecosystem comes together to deliver events

MVT has been fighting the cause of preventing venue closures for nearly eight years now. In that time, our work has increasingly become about the whole ecosystem. Not just the venues.

The venues are the bricks and mortar space in which artists, crew, sound engineers, lighting techs, merch vendors, stagehands, promoters, bookers, agents, managers and the whole ecosystem comes together to deliver events.

If we were clever and wanted to get access to all the public funding grants being thrown at tech companies we would be calling them ‘Co-working Spaces Fostering Micro-Business Development’. Every part of our ecosystem leans on the ability of the others to work.

Revisiting our car engine, any part of the mechanism that has grit in it or isn’t able to function properly is a challenge to all of us. It was before the crisis, and led to the creation of Music Venue Trust, and we’ve seen it magnified to terrifying levels during, and after, Covid. A malfunctioning part of our ecosystem impacts on all of us struggling within it.

Festivals, programmers, bookers, agents, promoters, the core audience for the IFF, are a vital part of the grassroots ecosystem

Coming out of this crisis, MVT thought about these issues and forged a partnership with The National Lottery to create the Revive Live Tour. That programme offered support directly to artists, crew, agents and managers to get back out and playing in grassroots music venues.

It’s easy to understand why we, as a charity concerned for the future health of the grassroots music venues, would create such a programme to benefit our own specific sector of premises. But the programme was about much more than that. It was about restarting the whole of our ecosystem, recognising that the people who make up a functioning version of it needed support to restart it.

Festivals, festival programmers, bookers, agents, promoters, the core audience for the IFF, are a vital part of the grassroots ecosystem.

The person who operates the desk on a Friday night at a music venue in Cornwall has a portfolio career which is formed by that work and the work they get from you, our partners at festivals. They need all parts of our ecosystem to be firing and moving together to restart their careers.

See the artists currently blowing up on the grassroots circuit that you should be considering for your festival lineups

So we are delighted to be part of that story and to be joining you at the IFF this year. Our closing night party, presented in association with our colleagues at Allianz, is a chance to see the type of artists we have been supporting to get back to the careers they love.

We want to give you a chance to see the artists currently blowing up on the UK grassroots circuit that you should be thinking about for your festival lineups next year.

It will also be a chance to have the type of networking and discussion that we need to encourage, and have more of, between venues, festivals, agents, promoters, bookers as we strive to work together to recover from this crisis. All of us, the whole ecosystem. I’ll be at the bar. Let’s talk.

More information about how to attend IFF, along with the full event schedule, is online at www.iff.rocks.

 


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Covid-sniffing dogs trialled at German test concert

The efficacy of coronavirus detection dogs was trialled last Sunday (19 September) at a test show in Hanover.

The German trial was led by the University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover (TiHo), which recently published a study that found Coronavirus detection dogs could detect the presence of Covid-19 in people with 94% accuracy, even if they are asymptomatic.

The Hanover study took place at an open-air concert by Fury in the Slaughterhouse at the Gilde Parkbühne with 500 attendees.

As part of the trial, attendees were required to take a PCR test and a rapid antigen test, and provide two arm sweat samples, which were sniffed by several dogs to detect the presence of Covid-19.

“In order to check that the dogs in the on-site entrance situation are able to recognise infected people, we smuggled in inactivated positive samples,” explains Professor Dr Holger Volk from TiHo.

“The result: the dogs have displayed all inactivated positive samples!”

“For this, there were helpers in the admission line who had the samples with them and handed them in. The result: the dogs have displayed all inactivated positive samples! So they did an excellent job,” says Volk says of the interim results, which will be corroborated with results from the PCR tests.

The Fury in the Slaughterhouse concert was the first of four trials to examine whether trained corona detection dogs are suitable for use in everyday situations.

The trials, organised in conjunction with Hannover Concerts, ProEvent Hannover and AWiAS Aviation Services GmbH, are funded by a €1.3 million grant from the Lower Saxony Ministry for Science and Culture.

Sniffer dogs were first used to detect infection in passengers in a trial at Dubai airport and since deployed in airports in Helsinki and Santiago, Chile, as well as more recently by the Miami Heat basketball team in Florida.

 


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Spanish venues endure “broadest restrictions in Europe”

Spanish concert halls are suffering under the broadest restrictions in Europe, according to a recent study by Live DMA.

While many European markets have fully reopened – or are planning to – Spanish venues are either still shuttered or are operating with a number of restrictions that make it “economically unfeasible’ for them to open their doors.

The country’s live sector is still reckoning with restrictions that include social distancing, mask-wearing and capacity limits, despite having the third-highest (73%) vaccination rate in Europe.

Spain’s association of live music venues, ACCES, is now demanding the full reopening of the live music sector, in line with the European Union guidelines for the safe resumption of cultural activities.

The EU guidelines say that member states must continue to adopt a strategic and phased approach to reopening, increasing capacity limits if the vaccination rate progresses sufficiently.

“[Spain has] the same social distance and practically the same limitations and capacity reductions as before the vaccination campaign”

Many European countries such as England, Denmark and Norway have already removed restrictions on live events, while others such as Belgium, Finland, the Netherlands, Sweden and Lithuania plan to do so at the end of this month – all of which have a lower vaccination rate than that of Spain.

“We do not understand why Spain, being at the head of the population vaccination rates, also continues to lead the countries with the greatest restrictions on cultural spaces such as concert halls,” writes ACCES. “Requiring the same social distance and practically the same limitations and capacity reductions as before the vaccination campaign began.

“These limitations, given our high vaccination rate, must be lifted or at least mitigated so that we are allowed to carry out our activity normally again, that is: Without social distance, with full capacity and with the possibility of consumption in the bars, because if not now, then when?”

Last year, Spain’s Association of Music Promoters (APM) reported that around 25,000 concerts were cancelled last year in Spain, causing a total loss of €120 million for concert halls, which prompted numerous protests and demonstrations including The Last Concert and #alertaroja.

 


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EAA adds Spain’s Navarra Arena to membership

The European Arenas Association (EAA) is welcoming Spain’s Navarra Arena (capacity. 11,800) as a new member.

The multifunctional, purpose-built arena opened in Pamplona, northern Spain, in September 2018.

Equipped with the ‘latest technology designed to enhance the efficiency of spaces’, the venue hosts a variety of national and international cultural, sporting, recreational and corporate events.

The addition of Navarra Arena boosts EAA’s membership to 34 arenas across 20 European countries.

“The strength of the EAA comes from the diversity of our members”

The Palacio Vistalegre (Madrid) and the Palau Sant Jordi (Barcelona) are the EAA’s only other Spanish members.

“The strength of the EAA comes from the diversity of our members,” says John Langford, EAA president.

“As we exit the restrictions of the pandemic and look forward to the restart of sport, live music and entertainment programmes in our arenas we are grateful for the shared knowledge and best practice built between us, knowing that having this means we can keep providing great entertainment safely for all those who use our spaces.”

The EAA recently spoke to IQ about how its members plan to get back up and running following the onset of Covid.19. Subscribers can read the full feature here.

 


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GEI Summer Edition saw industry “come of age”

The 14th edition of the Green Events and Innovations (GEI) conference saw the industry “come of age” on the subject of sustainability, according to the organisers.

Thursday’s (16 September) conference, presented by A Greener Festival (AGF) and the International Live Music Conference (ILMC), was the first-ever Summer Edition of GEI, with the virtual event supported by a raft of sponsors including Ecotricity, Live Nation, Res, Ticketmaster, Solcell and The Virtual Venue.

The event followed a hybrid model, with some speakers coming together at PYTCH’s Virtual Venue in Bristol, powered by 100% renewable energy. Others joined from their homes and were broadcast live to delegates from around the world.

“We had such a great time delivering the first hybrid GEI Summer Edition. Live speakers connected with powerful and inspiring individuals and organisations from all around the world, and a truly international interactive audience,” says AGF co-founder Claire O’Neill.

“Considering the crucial topics that GEI addresses, this global collaboration is heartwarming and hopeful, to say the least. With 14 years of GEI under our belts, it feels like the industry is coming of age on the subject of sustainability and the next step is to use our unparalleled power of communication connect these messages with the masses.”

“The next step is to use our unparalleled power of communication connect these messages with the masses”

The speaker line-up was packed with industry titans including Nuno Bettencourt (Extreme), Dale Vince (Ecotricity/Forest Green Rovers), Dave Ojay (NAAM Festival), Amber Etre (Christie Lites), Fay Milton (Savages/Music Declares Emergency) and Celia Palau Lodge (Cooking Vinyl Records).

Samm Farai Monro (Magamba Network), Meegan Jones (Sustainable Event Alliance/Great Ocean Race), Stuart McPherson (KB Event) and Jamal Chalabi (Backlash Productions) also topped the bill.

Highlights from the Summer Edition included an exclusive first look at LIVE Green’s declaration and voluntary charter and a follow-up discussion between John Langford (Live Green/ AEG Europe), Stuart Galbraith (Kilimanjaro Live), Clementine Bunel (Paradigm), artist Sam Lee and Chiara Badiali (Julie’s Bicycle).

Also featured at the conference was a presentation of a new roadmap for greener events, following the recent publication of research conducted by scientists at the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research under commission by Massive Attack.

The wider programme included panels on greener arenas and vendors as well as ‘ask the expert’ sessions, a quick-fire innovation round and deep dives on carbon removals and value chain planning for events.

AGF is now looking towards returning to live events with the next GEI Conference set to take place in March 2022. Find out more about the work of AGF at agreenerfestival.com.


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Building(s) for the future: Introducing the new arenas

As the live entertainment industry prepares for what could be the busiest years in its history, IQ looks at some of the new area projects that promise to take indoor shows to the next level. From Oak View Group’s groundbreaking Climate Pledge Arena to MSG’s spheres in London and Las Vegas, below you’ll find an extensive guide of the arenas set to open in the next five years and beyond.

 

2021

Climate Pledge Arena (Seattle, US)
Oak View Group
Naming sponsor: Amazon
Purpose: Sport and live entertainment
Opening date: October 2021
Configurations: 18,100 total. Capacities for different events will vary
Cost to build: $1billion (€0.85bn) of private investment
Design: Populous. McLennan Design advised on green/ sustainability features
Partnerships: Amazon’s The Climate Pledge, Alaska Airlines, Coors Light, Symetra, Virginia Mason Franciscan Health, WaFd Bank, Verizon and Ticketmaster
Special features:
■ Expected to be the first net zero carbon certified arena in the world and will harness the power of sports and entertainment to inspire change on the climate crises.
■ OVG has respectfully retained the iconic roof of the Seattle Center Coliseum, originally built for the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair and designed by renowned architect Paul Thiry.

“There is no question that the state of our planet is a critical issue for all of us. We have a responsibility to future generations to try to leave them with a better world. We love that Amazon is using its naming rights for a cause we care deeply about – this partnership is a visionary step for the facilities business and sport and music industries. Our goal is to be the most progressive, responsible, and sustainable venue in the world. It is not just about one arena – it’s a platform for us to step up and heal our planet.” – Tim Leiweke, CEO, Oak View Group.

“[Climate Pledge Arena’s] goal is to be the most progressive, responsible, and sustainable venue in the world”

UBS Arena (New York, US)
Oak View Group
Naming sponsor: UBS signed on for a 20-year naming rights deal worth $250million (€213m)
Purpose: Made for music and built for hockey
Opening date: Autumn 2021
Configurations: 18,500 total. NHL capacity: 17,000. Concert capacity: 18,500
Cost to build: $1.5bn (€1.3bn)
Design: Populous
Partnerships: UBS, Northwell Health, Verizon, Heineken, Dime and Ticketmaster
Special features:
■ State-of-the-art sound system that leverages sophisticated engineering acoustics to amplify the audio experience.
■ The first venue of its kind in New York to be eligible to achieve certification under the LEED V4 Building Design + Construction rating system while featuring state-of-the-art sustainable technology.
■ Arena displays will include the largest scoreboard in New York with industry-leading high-definition technology and two levels of high-resolution LED ribbon boards.
■ The utilisation of the Verizon 5G Ultra-Wideband network.

“We like to call this arena ‘the next most famous arena for the next century’. It will be the last great arena that will be built in all of our lifetimes in the New York City area. – Tim Leiweke, CEO, Oak View Group.

“UBS Arena will be the last great arena that will be built in all of our lifetimes”

Coca-Cola Music Hall (Puerto Rico)
ASM Global
Naming sponsor: Coca-Cola
Purpose: Coca-Cola Music Hall has a flexible and innovative design that will cater to a wide range of events, including concerts, family shows, boxing matches, corporate events, and much more
Opening date: 14 August 2021
Configurations: Up to 5,000 guests
Cost to build: $40m
Programming: Beatriz Colón
Special features: Coca-Cola Music Hall is the first medium-sized venue in Puerto Rico.

 

2022

MTS Live Arena (Moscow, Russia)
ASM Global
Naming sponsor: MTS (Mobile TeleSystems PJSC)
Purpose: Music, sports (basketball, MMA, etc), corporate events
Opening date: Q1 2022
Configurations: Standing floor, seated lower bowl, suites, upper bowl; or all seated; or banquet tables on the floor, seated lower level, suites, upper bowl
Cost to build: TBC
Design: HOK, Gensler
Financial backers: Private investment
Programming: AEG and ASM Global
Special features: Best rigging capacity in the country: up to 200 tons in total with a 4.5 ton point load
Partnerships: Ticketland (ticketing company owned by the naming rights partner); Bose (sound equipment); Compass Group (venue-wide catering); and AB InBev/Efes, L-wine, and Ahmad Tea (beverages).

“We are confident that a thriving, beautiful city like Moscow needs this one-of-a-kind new venue, which will be in demand for all European tours once the business is back to normal. No expense has been spared to create the world-class amenities and ultimate convenience for the artists and the fans.” – Rick Krezwick, ASM Global.

“We are confident that a thriving, beautiful city like Moscow needs this one-of-a-kind [MTS Live Arena]”

Swansea Arena (Swansea, Wales)
Ambassador Theatre Group
Naming sponsor: TBC
Purpose: Live music, comedy, theatre, sports, e-sports and conferences
Opening date: Early 2022
Configurations: 2,151 seated. 3,500 seated/standing. 2,500 standing only. 750 seated in section separated by auditorium wall
Cost to build: The Swansea Arena forms part of the £135m (€158m) Copr Bay phase one district that also includes a 1.1-acre coastal park, a landmark bridge, new homes, car parking and spaces for leisure and hospitality businesses
Design: Friedrich Ludewig of Acme
Financial backers: Swansea Council and the Swansea Bay City Deal. The Swansea Bay City Deal is an investment in nine programmes and projects across the Swansea Bay City region. It’s funded by the UK Government, the Welsh Government, the public sector and the private sector
Programming: Ambassador Theatre Group
Partnerships: TBC
Special features: Over 1,600 gold-coloured panels are being fitted around the outside of Swansea Arena, complete with over 95,000 LED lights. These will enable the screening of the light shows, as well as the potential to promote upcoming shows, concerts and other events.

“Located within touching distance of our world-class seafront, Swansea Arena will be among the best facilities of its kind. The stunning, gold-coloured LED skin surrounding the attraction also means the arena is in keeping with the digital age, with top quality Wi-Fi being made available there for visitors too.” – Councilor Rob Stewart, leader, Swansea Council.

“Ambassador Theatre Group is incredibly excited to be operating the brand-new state-of-the-art Swansea Arena. Not only because we are able to play a part in the incredible regeneration that is happening in the city, but to also bring artists and events to the area that have never had the opportunity to before. The venue is incredibly flexible and can host a great range of shows and events – we can’t wait to get the doors open!” – Lisa Mart, general manager, Swansea Arena.

“Located within touching distance of our world-class seafront, Swansea Arena will be among the best facilities of its kind”

Coachella Valley Arena (California, US)
Oak View Group
Naming sponsor: TBD
Purpose: AHL Hockey, concerts, and family shows
Opening date: Autumn 2022
Configurations: 11,679 for concerts, 9,918 for hockey, 10,815 for basketball and other sporting events. The lower bowl of the venue will seat close to 8,000
Cost to build: $290m (€247m)
Design: Populous. McLennan Design advised on green/ sustainability features
Financial backers: Privately financed by Oak View Group
Partnerships: Ticketmaster, Live Nation, Verizon, Alaska Airlines
Special features:
■ 300,000-square foot arena.
■ 20 suites.
■ A 145-capacity private club.
■ A pair of VIP clubs and a premium concourse club that seats 590.

“[Moody Center] should be the first place the biggest bands in the world want to play”

Moody Center (Austin, US)
Oak View Group, Live Nation/C3 Presents
Naming sponsor: Moody Foundation
Purpose: Live music, family shows, community events and sports Opening date: Spring 2022
Configurations: 15,000+ seat venue with the largest event floor in the US
Cost to build: $338m (€228m)
Design: Gensler
Financial backers: Privately financed through a partnership between Oak View Group, Live Nation/C3 Presents, actor Matthew McConaughey, and the University of Texas at Austin
Programming: Live Nation in conjunction with subsidiary C3 Presents
Special features: Designed specifically for concerts, this modern arena will provide state-of-the-art amenities and top-tier hospitality for artists and fans.

“As a proud alumnus and professor at the University of Texas, I’m honoured, now as minister of culture, to convey what a special place the university and the city of Austin are through the design and hospitality of the new Moody Center. It should be the first place the biggest bands in the world want to play, but the last place a visiting basketball team wants to play.” – Matthew McConaughey.

Tech Port Arena will have a first-class in-house sound system

Tech Port Center + Arena (San Antonio, US)
ASM Global
Naming sponsor: TBC (imminent)
Purpose: The Tech Port Arena will host national touring concerts, comedy, Ted Talks, regional/national conferences, product launches, and regional/national/international e-sport events supporting the aerospace, cyber security, and robotics tenants located at Port San Antonio.
Opening date: April 2022
Configurations: The arena will have 3,200 seats on two levels that will include 1,200 retractable seats that can host GA full-floor shows, seated configurations, and banquets.
Cost to build: $60m
Design: RVK Architects
Financial backers: American Triple I Partners, Port San Antonio
Programming: ASM Global will operate the venue and it will be an open venue to all promoters. Tech Port will co-promote or buy direct from agents.
Special features: ■ Tech Port Arena will have a first-class in-house sound system, 60’ LED wall for performances, and a lighting system that will include a 7.1 surround sound system in the arena for conferences, e-sports and music events.
■ Tech Port Center and Arena will also have a seven-day-a-week restaurant and bar experience to support the 15,000 employees that work at Port San Antonio, which will have live bands and DJs hosting after-hours events and festivals.
■ E-sports will be a large part of the complex, which will have a LAN centre and the first e-sport-focused, 60 station, LAN/Arena complex built in the US.
■ The building will be the first test site for the Genesis Water System, which converts air to water and will be a lifesaver for millions of people around the world looking for water in any environment.
Partnerships: TBC

 

2023

Co-op Live (Manchester, UK)
Oak View Group
Naming sponsor: A 15-year partnership with the Co-op to bring one of the most planet-friendly arenas in Europe to east Manchester
Purpose: Live music, sports, comedy, awards, and family entertainment events
Opening date: 2023
Configurations: 23,500-capacity, making it the UK’s biggest venue
Cost to build: £350m (€409m), 100% privately financed
Design: Populous
Financial backers: Oak View Group and City Football Group (CFG) are equal joint venture partners and investors in Co-op Live, along with Harry Styles as an investor
Partnerships: Ticketmaster will be providing digital ticketing technology
Special features:
■ Smart bowl design providing an intimate experience for fans and ‘black box’ for artists.
■ Innovative LED programmable halo around the building facade.
■ A football-pitch-and-a-half of solar panels on its roof.
■ Ten tennis courts creating a green biodiverse ring.
■ 100% rainwater harvesting.
■ 100% electric.
■ Targeting zero-waste to support carbon neutral goals.
■ Sustainable food sourcing via local producers. electric.
■ Local supply chain for the build creating jobs and apprentices.

“I am incredibly proud to be partnering with OVG on their plans for Co-op Live. Manchester is an incredible city, filled with incredible people, and I couldn’t be happier to be involved in their project. It feels very much like coming home.” – Harry Styles.

“Manchester is an incredible city, filled with incredible people, and I couldn’t be happier to be involved in [Co-op Live]”

MSG Sphere at the Venetian (Las Vegas, US)
MSG Entertainment
Purpose: Attractions, concert residencies, corporate events, award shows, product launches and select sporting events
Opening date: 2023
Configurations: Scalable capacity of approximately 17,500 seated to 20,000 with a mix of seated and standing
Design: The vision for MSG Sphere, including its design, is being driven by a talented team at MSG Entertainment, which has also brought on board Populous, one of the world’s most acclaimed design and architectural firms, to help make MSG Entertainment’s vision a reality – both in Las Vegas and London
Special features:
■ Fully programmable LED exterior – creating a digital showcase for artists, brands and partners.
■ The highest resolution LED screen on Earth – an immersive display plane that will wrap up, over, and behind the audience at a resolution over 100 times that of a high-definition television.
■ Advanced acoustics system delivering crystal clear audio to every guest.
■ The system will use a variety of technologies including beamforming, enabling audio to be directed to specific locations in the bowl at a volume that remains constant – from point of origin to destination. This means two people – sitting in different seat sections – could hear completely different things, adding to the possibilities for a truly customised experience.
■ An infrasound haptic system that will use deep vibrations so guests can “feel” the experience.
■ A new architecture for connectivity that delivers more than 25 megabits per second for every guest – enabling a broader range of content and greater interaction.

“The renders of the [Kai Tak Sports Park] provide a tantalising glimpse as to what that experience will look and feel like”

Kai Tak Sports Park (Hong Kong)
ASM Global
Naming sponsor: TBC
Purpose: Live entertainment, sport, conferences, seminars, meetings, exhibitions and trade shows
Opening date: Late 2023
Configurations: 10,000 maximum capacity with retractable seating systems to provide as much flexibility as possible.
Cost to build: HK$30bn (€3bn) including a 50,000 capacity stadium and other facilities
Design: Populous (architects), Arup (engineering disciplines) Financial backers: The Government of Hong Kong under a design build operate contract for 25 years
Programming: ASM Global (concerts and other live entertainment, conferences and functions), Sportfive (sport content)
Special features: Kai Tak Sports Park will integrate world-class sports facilities with retail, wellness and community leisure spaces to create an urban oasis. With its Pearl of the Orient theme, the main stadium will boast a retractable roof and flexible pitch surface that can host a wide range of international, regional and local events in any weather.
Building(s) For The Future_Feature
Partnerships: The Kai Tak Sports Park consortium is led by Kai Tak Sports Park Ltd (KTSPL), a subsidiary of New World Development Company Limited and NWS Holdings Limited. The KTSPL project team comprises of recognised local and global industry leaders with extensive experience in the design, construction and operation of large-scale projects. ASM Global will be responsible for management and operation of the precinct. The Park will include 57,000m2 of retail space, 3,000m2 of restaurants, a bowling centre, a sports health/wellness centre, an event village,
a main plaza, a children’s play area, and numerous outdoor sports courts.

“Kai Tak Sports Park will transform the sports landscape in Hong Kong. ASM Global will bring world-class sports and entertainment events and deliver an outstanding experience to fans and clients alike. The renders of the venues provide a tantalising glimpse as to what that experience will look and feel like and we can’t wait to start delivering events.” – Darren Burden, executive director, ASM Global.

 

2024

Newcastlegateshead Quays (Newcastle, UK)
ASM Global
Naming sponsor: TBC
Purpose: Concerts, live entertainment, boxing, mixed martial arts, sport, family entertainment, comedy, e-sport, e-gaming, conferencing, association events, exhibitions and regionally tailored and produced events
Opening date: Summer 2024
Configurations: 12,500-capacity arena plus conference and exhibition centre with over 6,300m2 including conference suite for 900, exhibition halls totalling 5,500m2
Cost to build: £260m (€304m)
Design: Hook
Financial backers: Ask and Patrizia
Programming: ASM Global
Partnerships: Local and national premium brands, Gateshead Council, regional stakeholder and education institutions

Derby Becketwell is perfectly placed to benefit from the demonstrable growth in 3,000-4,000 capacity shows in the UK”

Derby Becketwell Arena (Derby, UK)
ASM Global
Naming sponsor: TBC
Purpose: Concerts, live entertainment, family entertainment, comedy, sports entertainment, conferencing, exhibitions and corporate events
Opening date: 2024
Configurations: 3,500 capacity auditorium with flexible seating and standing modes
Cost to build: £39m (€45m)
Design: Corstorphine and Wright
Financial backers: St James Securities and Derby City Council
Programming: ASM Global
Special features: Becketwell Arena follows in the footsteps of the success of Bonus Arena in Hull and joins Swansea Arena as part
of a cohort of new 3,000-4,000 capacity venues in the UK, which represent a significant growth opportunity for the UK touring market. This new venue in the heart of the city of Derby will present intimate arena shows with fantastic sight lines and a first- class audience experience.
Partnerships: Close collaboration with Derby City Council and other regional stakeholders, putting the new venue at the heart of the city’s regeneration strategy, with a new entertainment, cultural and business events programme.

“We look forward to bringing world-class entertainment, sports entertainment and business events to Derby, in an innovative new venue, which is perfectly placed to benefit from the demonstrable growth in 3,000-4,000 capacity shows in the UK. We have been inspired by the vision shared for the city, and the growth and opportunities for the East Midlands economy more broadly. Along with a busy concert and entertainment programme, the venue will attract a wide range of business events and provide a great meeting place and activation platform for the region’s world-leading industrial sectors.” – Tom Lynch, group commercial director & senior vice president, Europe, ASM Global.

Emlive will be built atop a major mall development

Emlive (Bangkok, Thailand)
ASM Global
Naming sponsor: TBC
Purpose: Primarily entertainment and corporate banquets
Opening date: late 2024
Configurations: 5,000 maximum capacity
Cost to build: TBC
Design: The Mall Group
Financial backers: The Mall Group, AEG Real Estate
Programming: AEG Asia
Special features: Built atop a major mall development
Partnerships: TBC

 

2025

Cardiff Atlantic Wharf Arena (Wales, UK)
Oak View Group, Live Nation
Naming sponsor: TBC
Purpose: Live music, family shows, comedy and sport
Opening date: Spring 2025
Configurations: 15,000 capacity – standing and seated
Cost to build: £150m (€175m)
Design: HKO
Financial backers: Cardiff Council, Live Nation Entertainment, and Oak View Group, with Robertson Group as developers
Special features:
■ Single-tier arena to intensify the atmosphere for spectators and performers.
■ Seating and floor space that adapts to audience sizes anywhere between 3,500 and 15,000, and a variety of events from sports to family shows as well as live music and entertainment.
■ With world-class acoustics, fans and performers will be guaranteed the ultimate sound experience while noise levels are reduced to maintain a peaceful environment outside the arena.

“This project has reached an important milestone. It has been 22 years in the making, and we have made significant progress in recent years. The new indoor arena will be the primary catalyst of the regeneration of Atlantic Wharf.” – Russell Goodway, cabinet member for investment and development, Cardiff Council.

Cardiff Atlantic Wharf Arena has been 22 years in the making, and we have made significant progress in recent years”

Jeddah Arena (Saudi Arabia)
ASM Global
Naming sponsor: TBC
Purpose: Primarily entertainment and sport
Opening date: December 2025 Configurations: 20,000 maximum capacity
Cost to build: TBC
Design: Chapman Taylor
Financial backers: SARH Real Estate Investments
Programming: ASM Global
Special features: First international standard arena in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Partnerships: TBC

“ASM Global is looking forward to being an integral part of the team to deliver this visionary project in Jeddah. We pride ourselves on joining forces with partners with whom we know we can make a difference to creating and delivering amazing experiences.” – Harvey Lister, chairman & chief executive, ASM Global (Asia Pacific & Gulf Region).

 

2026

Milano Santa Giulia Arena (Milan, Italy)
CTS Eventim
Naming sponsor: TBC
Purpose: 2026 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games, live music
Opening date: 2026
Configurations: 16,000-capacity indoors. Plus outdoor area of more than 10,000m2 for open-air events
Cost to build: €180m Design: TBC
Financial backers: TBC

“Our new arena in Milan will be a must-play for all major tours, and we will also be able to offer top events from the Eventim portfolio to the region around Milan and beyond in our own arena through the four Italian promoters in our Eventim Live promoter network. This is another excellent addition to our value chain.” – Klaus-Peter Schulenberg, CEO, CTS Eventim.

“[CTS Eventim’s] new [Milano Santa Giulia Arena] will be a must-play for all major tours”

Bangkok Arena (Thailand)
ASM Global
Naming sponsor: TBC
Purpose: Primarily entertainment
Opening date: Late 2026
Configurations: 15,000 maximum capacity Cost to build: TBC
Design: The Mall Group
Financial backers: The Mall Group, AEG Real Estate
Programming: AEG Asia
Special features: Built atop a major mall development
Partnerships: TBC

 

TBC

MSG Sphere (London, UK)
MSG Entertainment
Purpose: Attractions, concert residencies, corporate events, award shows, product launches and select sporting events
Opening date: TBC. Planning application currently under consideration by the LLDC. “As we work through this process, our timeline will continue to evolve.”
Configurations: Scalable capacity of up to 17,500 seated or 21,500 when there is a mix of seated and standing
Design: See MSG Sphere at The Venetian
Special features: See MSG Sphere at The Venetian


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Dutch live industry furious about indoor capacity limit

Key figures from the Netherlands’ live sector say the new 75%-capacity limit for indoor standing events is “unsubstantiated, arbitrary and extremely harmful”.

The measure was announced yesterday (14 September) by the Dutch government as part of a wider rollback of restrictions, planned for 25 September.

The live industry, which recently galvanised more than 150,000 residents to protest restrictions on live entertainment, has hit back at the government for delaying a full reopening.

“As a sector, we have really done everything we can to influence decision-making and provide substantiation to be fully open. But imaging apparently outweighs facts,” says Jolanda Jansen, spokesperson on behalf of the Alliance of Event Builders.

Riemer Rijpkema, spokesperson on behalf of the EventPlatform adds: “We are surprised and disappointed about the choices made by the cabinet. From all the studies of the Fieldlab Events programme and now also from the countless examples from the countries around us, it is clear that events can open safely at full capacity. The 75% limit is unsubstantiated, arbitrary and extremely harmful.”

Indoor events, clubs and venues will also be required to close between 00:00 and 06:00 CET.

The Dutch government today (15 September) has attempted to soften the blow by announcing a €15 million fund to compensate promoters and venues for lost revenue from indoor standing shows.

Ruben Brouwer, director at Mojo, calls the compensation “a blanket for the bleeding”

However, Ruben Brouwer, director at Mojo, calls the compensation “a blanket for the bleeding”.

“Why is 75% good and safe, and 100% not? They don’t explain that. Then you have a bag of money here to make up for the shortages. I think every organiser has to decide what to do next: am I going to organise it or should I cancel it? This is too little, too late.”

Also from 25 September, social distancing will be completely abolished and capacity limits will not apply to outdoor events.

However, the corona pass will be a condition of entry for everyone aged 13 and over who wants to visit an event, festival, theatre, cinema or catering facility.

Attendees at multi-day events will be required to show their corona pass every 24 hours.

The news comes too late for many major festivals such as Lowlands, Mysteryland, DGTL, Down the Rabbit Hole, Awakenings and Paaspop, which were called off earlier this year.

Amsterdam Music Festival, the Netherlands’ largest indoor music festival, was cancelled yesterday (15 September).

 


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Copenhagen to gain ‘top-tier’ music venue

The Danish capital is set to gain a new 2,500-capacity music venue this winter.

Stagebox will open this November in Refshaleøen, a former industrial site in the harbour of Copenhagen that has been dubbed a ‘cultural playground’.

The venue, which is being opened by new operator Live Partner Denmark, will be located at Refshalevej 189 – an old and historical construction hall in the post-industrial shipyard.

Stagebox’s CEO Daniel Vangsgaard and head of partnerships Stefan Petersen (previously a booking agent and promoter at All Things Live Denmark) say they have kept the hall’s original features but the sound and lighting have been elevated.

The pair expect approximately 200,000 guests at Stagebox over the course of 2022.

The official opening concert, along with additional concerts and information on partnerships, will be announced later this month.

“I daresay that Copenhagen has long lacked a venue that was built exclusively for events and concerts”

“Speaking for Danish concert organisers, I daresay that Copenhagen has long lacked a venue that was built exclusively for events and concerts, where the sound and surroundings have been prioritised in order to provide the ultimate audience and artist experience,” says Vangsgaard, director and venue manager.

“And we’re incredibly excited to present them with such a space – both Danes and internationals.”

Refshaleøen is also home to major music festivals and events, as well as Michelin-star restaurants, food markets, plant halls, and exhibitions.

In 2017, Beatbox Entertainment (the promoter behind greenfield festivals Tinderbox and NorthSide) launched the brand new Haven festival in the shipyard – selling 20,000 tickets.

More recently, Live Nation Denmark, along with nine of the country’s biggest festivals, held a one-off event at Refshaleøen to mark the reopening of the country.

 


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Scottish parliament approves vaccine passports

The Scottish parliament yesterday (9 September) approved plans for vaccine passports, which will come into force from 1 October for those seeking entry to nightclubs and ‘analogous venues’, as well as large-scale events.

Scotland is one of the few countries in the world to implement a vaccine passport that doesn’t include test results – following in the footsteps of Israel which also restricts entry to those who have been fully vaccinated.

The new vaccine certification rules will mean that anyone over the age of 18 will need to show they have had both doses of the vaccine before they are allowed entry to:

Exemptions will apply to under 18s (to be kept under review), participants in vaccine trials, people unable to be vaccinated for medical reasons and employees at venues within the scope of the scheme.

The Scottish government is yet to finalise a definition of ‘nightclubs and analogous venues’ prompting music industry bodies to criticise the lack of detail in the policy.

“[This policy] potentially disproportionately penalises young people, excluding one in four of them from the late-night economy”

Music Venue Trust CEO, Mark Davyd, says: “As it stands this Scottish government policy amounts to an attempt to exclude some people from going somewhere at some time, without proving adequate information on when, where, who or how.

“In doing so it potentially disproportionately penalises young people, excluding one in four of them from the late-night economy, and people from diverse backgrounds, excluding nearly 50% of them from the late-night economy.”

Davyd also complains that no financial support has been offered to deliver the policy, and none offered to mitigate the impacts it will have on business.

Affected venues will be required to download a free QR code verifier app to a smartphone or device and staff will be required to check a customer’s QR code to ensure the record of vaccination is genuine.

The cost of the app is free, but any additional staffing or infrastructure costs to deliver the scheme will be absorbed by the business.

“The Scottish government has targeted the late-night economy throughout this pandemic”

An overview on the government’s website suggests that the regulations should impose a legal obligation on the person responsible for operating the business or venue to ‘take all reasonable measures’ to restrict entry only to those fully vaccinated.

The Scottish government plans to publish guidance to set out what ‘reasonable measures’ would be proportionate in different settings with different capacities.

The Nighttime Industries Association (NTIA) – the membership of which includes many clubbing businesses that will be affected by the new requirement – says the vote has “put an already fragile nighttime economy on a dangerous path to devastation”.

“The Scottish government has targeted the late-night economy throughout this pandemic,” says Michael Kill, CEO, NTIA. “Our industry has gone to exceptional lengths to support the public health strategy in Scotland, and have been led to believe that consultation would be considered and enacted upon, but instead, we have been met with empty promises and hollow words.”

“Thousands of people in Scotland’s nighttime economy have lost jobs, businesses are overburdened with debt and many have not survived.”

“The call for evidence from the Scottish government has been ignored, and has left us no option but to challenge this, as an industry in the coming weeks, or we will suffer the catastrophic consequences of ill-thought out policy.”

Elsewhere in the UK, the British government has said it will press ahead with plans to introduce vaccine passports for nightclubs and other crowded indoor venues from the end of next month. It is rumoured that Wales is also considering launching a vaccine-only passport this autumn.

 


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