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Through its subsidiary Be-at, Live Nation Belgium owns the 23,000-capacity Sportpaleis in Antwerp, as well as the Lotto Arena (8,000-capacity), Brussels’ Forest National (8,500), Trixxo Arena (17,000) in Hasselt, and the summer-only Proximus Pop-UpArena (5,000), located in Middelkerke on the Belgian coast.
After two years of being at a standstill, it’s understandable that the live entertainment circuit would experience a massive influx of audiences willing to make up for lost time. “In our larger arenas, we’ve noticed an increase in attendance for all-night events, with record-breaking expenditure from concertgoers per head on food & beverage,” explains Be-at CEO Jan Van Esbroeck.
“In our larger arenas, we’ve noticed an increase in attendance for all-night events, with record-breaking expenditure from concertgoers per head on food & beverage”
However, Van Esbroeck also says that it comes with some adverse side effects. “I get the impression that people spend their money on “known” factors such as household acts and established names, so emerging talents hardly get exposure in the current market,” he explains. “However, I believe that this is only temporary, as the market will stabilise somewhat after this period, and new acts will once again find the fans they need to grow.”
Van Esbroeck has also noticed an increasing number of acts have been opting for open-air venues for larger capacity but is apprehensive about whether this will continue over the next couple of years. Though he’s glad that one trend which proved to be popular over the pandemic period hasn’t caught on. “I’m happy that ‘hybrid concerts’ watchable via the Internet have proved to be a niche activity and in no way seem to be a threat to live entertainment,” he says. “We are now mainly concentrating on increasing the customer experience. With our group, we want to be able to offer a total experience to the customer.”
“I’m happy that ‘hybrid concerts’ watchable via the Internet have proved to be a niche activity and in no way seem to be a threat to live entertainment”
While major development works aren’t in the pipeline across Be-at arenas anytime soon, Van Esbroeck adds that there has been a heightened interest and awareness in implementing sustainable measures over the next few years. As reported in our special feature on P14–17, Live Nation aims to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions of its venues and festivals by 50% by 2030 and plan to end the sale of single-use Europeplastics, among other aims. “We’re glad that we have the budget available to conduct this, as it’s up to us to guide our audiences towards zero-carbon activity,” he explains. “One of our plans is to renovate the roof and renew the sanitary installations in the Forest National, so that it meets the highest standards for sustainability.”
With major artists such as Post Malone, Elton John, Depeche Mode, Macklemore, Avril Lavigne, Tenacious D, and Bring Me The Horizon booked to perform across all Be-at venues over the next 12 to 18 months, Van Esbroeck is optimistic. “We’re looking to the near future with confidence, and we expect a better-than-average 2023 and a very healthy 2024 on the horizon.