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Arena Market: Belgium

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Live Nation Belgium’s acquisition of venue operator Antwerps Sportpaleis in 2019 saw the promoter immediately become the leading operator at this level in Belgium.

Through its brand Be.at it now owns five arenas: Sportpaleis (23,000-capacity) and Lotto Arena (8,000) in Antwerp; Forest National (8,400) in Brussels; Trixxo Arena (17,000) in Hasselt; and during the summer, the Proximus Pop-Up Arena in Middelkerke (5,000); plus three 2,000-capacity theatres.

The country’s main Covid restrictions ended in March 2022, since then there’s been an “explosion of shows and festivals, many of which were delayed by the pandemic,” says Be-at CEO Jan Van Esbroeck. “This oversupply sometimes leads to difficult ticket sales, especially for less famous artists or events. In addition, the general economic situation is not favourable for families wanting to spend on activities in the leisure industry.”

The country’s main Covid restrictions ended in March 2022, since then there’s been an “explosion of shows and festivals”

“Uncertainty about rising inflation and international unrest is casting a shadow over the market. That said, household names seem to be immune, as does the niche aimed at families with young children. Our theatre calendars have never been so full, so things are looking very good in terms of local and smaller-scale activities. However, we expect the situation will normalise in the medium term, and we will enter 2023 in an arena market that is growing again.”

Van Esbroeck says that as a part of Live Nation, the arenas have a major focus on the sustainability of their operations over the next two years (Live Nation’s Green Nation charter states the company’s venues and festivals will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2030, and end the sale of single-use plastics, among other aims).

“As the market leader, we want to be an example for the entire Belgian sector,” says Van Esbroeck. “It is also clear that this will require extensive communication with concert-goers, and we’ll have to raise awareness and educate audiences.”

“Uncertainty about rising inflation and international unrest is casting a shadow over the market.”

The venues aren’t planning any major development works in the immediate future, as they are recovering from the past two years. However, Van Esbroeck says new Belgian laws impose strict ventilation standards on venues, so the company is investing in that area. In addition, it’s making further improvements in the sustainability of its consumer food and beverage offer.

Although owned by Live Nation, the venues are open to all promoters, and Van Esbroeck says the team works closely with its hire clients. “Our communications department will assist our promoters even more than before with supportive promotion, mainly based on data-related tools. We are also rolling out our own loyalty programme (Friends For Live) and will deploy it to the full to help them.”

Artists performing across be at venues include Rage Against The Machine, Panic At The Disco, Elton John, Placebo, Volbeat, Sigur Rós, Bon Iver, and Rosalía.

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