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Publication

Arena Market: Brazil

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An odd facet of São Paulo, the busiest live music market in Brazil – which in turn is the busiest live music territory in South America – is its lack of a modern, custom-built indoor arena. But one way or another, that is soon going to change.

An agreement in October 2021 by international titans Live Nation, Oak View Group. and GL Events promises to deliver a 20,000-capacity arena to a newly developed Distrito Anhembi, in the city’s Zona Norte, by 2024. The new venue will sit alongside a cultural boulevard, an exhibition centre, and a new convention centre.

Among the features detailed by its backers are: environmental sustainability programmes, VIP seating, hospitality lounges, premium acoustic technology, and an array of food and beverage offerings.

“It will be a major achievement for the city of São Paulo and for the world.”

“We are going to build the best arena in Latin America,” said São Paulo Mayor Ricardo Nunes. “It will be a major achievement for the city of São Paulo and for the world.”

The news has been greeted with enthusiasm by promoters, who identify the new arena as a prominent missing piece in the wider network of continental arena options.

“Slowly but surely, we’re finally getting a circuit of new arenas in the region,” says Move Concerts CEO Phil Rodriguez. “With this, the region will now have arenas in most of the major centres: Bogotá, Rio, São Paulo, Buenos Aires, Montevideo, and Santiago.”

“Slowly but surely, we’re finally getting a circuit of new arenas in the region”

Landing almost simultaneously was a plan for a second arena just a couple of kilometres to the east, this one potentially a 25,000-capacity space to be constructed at Cidade Center Norte – currently a mall and expo centre – by property developer Baumgart Group and Allianz Parque operator WTorre Entretenimento. The development, which also includes a hospital and residential development, is expected to break ground this year but is a long-term project with a total ten-to-15-year timeframe.

Busy before the pandemic – Muse, Nickelback, and Black Eyed Peas all came through in 2019 – the 10,200-cap, 1950s-era Ginásio do Ibirapuera is now at the centre of an argument over its future, including a possible plan to hand the venue, primarily a municipal sports arena, to the private sector for demolition and redevelopment. For now, shows are on pause.

Elsewhere in São Paulo, the newly rebranded 7,000-cap Vibra São Paulo – formerly Credicard Hall – in Santo Amaro has been one of Latin America’s busiest venues since 1999 and reopened in May under new operator Opus Entretenimento.

And earlier this year, Grupo São Paulo Eventos’s Espaço das Américas in Barra Funda, west of São Paulo, was renamed Espaço Unimed. Demi Lovato, A-ha, Rosalía, Caetano Veloso, and Liam Gallagher are all part of a busy 2022 at the 20-year- old, 8,000-capacity centre, while Bruce Springsteen, Roberto Carlos, and Ed Sheeran are among those who have gone before.

“We have every Saturday of 2022 booked up, sold-out tours of national and international artists, and a very high demand for our facilities, both from artists and the audience”

More picturesque, with a higher international profile, Rio is significantly smaller than São Paulo – with around 6.8m inhabitants to its gigantic western neighbour’s 12.4m. Consequently, it is the second city in entertainment terms, though by no means a quiet town.

GL Events’ 18,000-capacity Jeunesse Arena, a former Olympic venue completed in 2007 for that year’s Pan American Games, is having its best year ever, with J Balvin, Michael Bublé, and Harry Styles among those coming through.

“We have every Saturday of 2022 booked up, sold-out tours of national and international artists, and a very high demand for our facilities, both from artists and the audience,” says Silvia Albuquerque, GL Events director of regional venues.

“Big names of Brazilian music are returning to the stage after long breaks, and the audience has been flocking to these shows. In August, we hosted Milton Nascimento’s career- closing tour and tickets for all three nights were sold out.”

“Big names of Brazilian music are returning to the stage after long breaks, and the audience has been flocking to these shows”

In 2019, GL invested Brazilian R$1.5m (€280,000) in automatic modular curtains to allow new configurations of the Jeunesse Arena down to about 300 people, with further investments in flooring replacement and renovation of corporate boxes and production areas.

In addition to concerts, eSports have caught a wave. “In November, we will host the finals of the Counter-Strike World Championship, and tickets for all days of the event sold out within hours,” says Albuquerque.

Also in Rio is Time4Fun’s Qualistage arena in Barra da Tijuca, out to the west of the city, formerly the ATL/Citibank/ KM de Vantagens Hall. “Rio is the second-largest market in Brazil and perhaps the third in all of South America, so there’s a high demand for Brazilian and international concerts,” says general manager Bernardo Amaral.

Qualistage has two configurations: 8,423 with 8,000 standing and 423 seated, or 3,127 all seated, and is in an ongoing process of self-improvement, according to Amaral.

“Rio is the second-largest market in Brazil and perhaps the third in all of South America, so there’s a high demand for Brazilian and international concerts”

“The venue went though many renovations: decoration; lighting design; new dressing rooms, tables, and chairs; and new naming rights – Qualistage, from health company Qualicorp,” says Amaral. “There are some competitors, of course, but with our capacity, modernity, and the quality of our suppliers, we deliver the best-quality results, and agents and promoters look for that.”

Brazil these days is a multi-centre touring destination, with numerous stadiums and arenas, of varying modernity. But look to any major city and there is a venue that is equal to international productions of arena scale.

Porto Alegre has the vintage 14,586-cap Ginásio Gigantinho, at which the Milton Nascimento tour also stopped in August, and the mid-size, 5,500-cap Pepsi On Stage. Centro de Eventos do Ceará in Fortaleza has staged big shows over the ten years since its inauguration, including Guns N’ Roses, David Guetta, girl brand Rouge, and pop duo Sandy & Junior.

The 20,000-cap Mineirinho in Belo Horizonte, the erstwhile largest indoor arena in Brazil, has fallen into disuse in recent years, though in May a consortium led by DMDL and Progen took up a 35-year contract to manage and renovate the facility, with an investment of R$150m (€29m) pledged.

Also on the circuit are the 5,000-capacity outdoor Concha Acústica do Teatro Castro Alves auditorium in Salvador, which was refurbished in 2016 at a cost of R$90m (€17m), the 11,105-cap Ginásio Nilson Nelson in the capital, Brasilia, and the Classic Hall in the north-eastern city of Olinda, which welcomed Laura Pausini, Aerosmith, and A-ha pre-pandemic.

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