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Arena Market: France

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After a stop-start post-Covid period, arenas are reporting more shows than ever. But the sheer number of events leads some to worry about an oversupply – and a change in consumer behaviour to buy tickets very last minute is causing further concerns.

Live association PRODISS general manager Malika Seguineau said the organisation would “take stock in September” to “reflect on an economic model perhaps at the end of a cycle.”
The Accor Hotel turned the Covid crisis into an opportunity to accelerate its business transformation plans. The firm is launching a new business group called Paris Entertainment Company, becoming a multi-venue operator.

The Accor Hotel turned the Covid crisis into an opportunity to accelerate its business transformation plans.

The company will add a new arena (3,500-9,000 capacity) currently being built in north-east Paris for the 2024 Olympics, to its portfolio of the Accor Arena and Le Bataclan (500-1,700). “It will be a smart arena, providing an enhanced experience, more personalised and immersive thanks to digital tools,” says Accor Arena general manager Nicolas Dupeux. “And it will positively impact its local community.”

The group is evolving its model from a purely “show venue” company only open when events are happening, to being an “experience venue,” with entertainment districts open all year round and reasons to visit every day. And this will apply across its properties. “We’ve created activities that enable the audience to have a comprehensive experience, before and after the main event,” says Dupeux.

As part of this pivot, Accor Arena has undergone some major changes including a new B2B suite called Somewhere with a speakeasy bar; a new French local restaurant, L’Ami Coq, showcasing food from regions across France; a co-working space; and a new hospitality suite called L’Appartement, inspired by a typical Haussmann flat, with a terrace offering a panoramic view over the show.

A new after-show club called Phantom will open in November 2022, with 3,500m2 for clubbing after main shows.

“Rap and urban music (French or international) are shining a lot this season at Accor Arena,”

This year, the venue is hosting UFC for the first time in France, and Dupeux points to e-sports as a strong market trend that the venue is helping to grow in its home market. “Rap and urban music (French or international) are shining a lot this season at Accor Arena,” he adds. “We’re seeing more and more residencies for rap artists this season – that’s three or four dates in a row.

Rock music, such as metal, pop, punk, also performs very well – we’ve recently welcomed Tool, KISS, The Scorpions, Sting, The Cure, and The Offspring. Multifunction, retractable-roofed Paris La Défense Arena is a unique space capable of welcoming between 10,000– 40,000 people.

“The international live entertainment market is doing very well in France,” says booking director Raphaëlle Plasse, noting that many venues will not be available in late 2023 and 2024 due to France hosting the Rugby world cup and the Olympics/ Paralympic games. Alongside rescheduled shows from the pandemic, it means the venue is set to host double the number of events in 2022-23 season compared to 2018-19 – a record year.

“One of the biggest threats that we face (like everyone else in the industry) is the impact of the pandemic and Ukraine crisis on ticket holders, promoters, and venues,”

“One of the biggest threats that we face (like everyone else in the industry) is the impact of the pandemic and Ukraine crisis on ticket holders, promoters, and venues,” Plasse notes. “Following two years of lockdown (even with the comprehensive French government support), our sector is suffering from a lack of staff and from inflation. Sales cycles are slower and not as aggressive as before Covid.”

She says the biggest challenge, along with French promoters, will be to secure the post-pandemic boom by not letting production and venue prices increase significantly, and the accompanying ticket price rises that would cause. Plasse says the venue is working on a ticket trading platform to combat the effects of ticket touts.

Artists performing include Iron Maiden, Ninho, and Bruce Springsteen. For tours that head outside of the capital, Halle Tony Garnier in Lyon is a regular stop. With a fully seated configuration of 4,416 up to a standing/seated set-up capable of hosting 17,000 people, the 210x80m space will welcome acts such as The Cure, Roméo Elvis, and Dadju.

Artists performing include Iron Maiden, Ninho, and Bruce Springsteen

The Zénith franchise of buildings is a network of theatre- style spaces across France, with a broad capacity range. At the higher end of capacity is Zénith de Strasbourg (12,709) in the east of France. The modular venue can be configured for as few as 1,483 all seated and can provide production such as lights, sound, video, and backline though its partner Lagoona. Acts due to play here are Sting, The Cure, Dadju, and Disney in Concert.

On the west of France, Nantes metropolitan area has more than a million inhabitants, making the city’s Le Zénith (9,000) another regular touring stop. Acts performing in 2022 include Marillion, The Cure, and Arcade Fire.

Artists that have performed there include Beyoncé, Bruce Springsteen, Shakira, Rihanna, and Muse.

As well as offering an indoor capacity of 19,636, Zénith de Nancy has an outdoor amphitheatre for 25,000 people, making it the first venue in Europe to offer a reversible open-air stage. It has three offices for organisers and production, nine artist dressing rooms, and a catering area with a dining room for artists, the production team, and technicians.

Near the Mediterranean coast, the Sud de France Arena in Montpellier is the second largest new generation multifunction room in France. Able to welcome 7,500 people seated up to 13,500 as a maximum capacity, it opened in 2010. Artists that have performed there include Beyoncé, Bruce Springsteen, Shakira, Rihanna, and Muse.

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