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Arena Market: Hungary

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Hungary has spent several years being buffeted by a number of challenges – extreme inflation, the nearby war, and political friction with the current government. Yet the pent-up, post-Covid demand means that the live entertainment market has remained solid, a trend that is set to continue for the rest of 2024 and beyond.

That means strong ticket sales for the country’s three main arenas. There’s the 8,500-capacity Főnix Arena in Debrecen, which has hosted Iron Maiden and Deep Purple alongside numerous sporting events, and the brand-new, 22,000-capacity MVM Dome in Budapest. Originally described as Europe’s largest dedicated handball venue, the facility, which opened in December 2021, can also host a variety of sports and has ramped up its concert and entertainment offering over the last few years: Thirty Seconds To Mars, Rod Stewart, and The World of Hans Zimmer are all scheduled for summer 2024.

It’s a similar story for László Papp Budapest Sportaréna, the established capital-city arena. A multifunctional space with several layouts ranging from 5,000 to 14,000, it has successfully tapped into the international tours sweeping the region; Diana Krall, Bring Me The Horizon, and Pentatonix have all played recently.

“Because of extreme inflation, we saw a significant cost increase both in venue maintenance and event management – this could not be passed on to our customers,”

“Strong demand, with very few available days in the Friday to Sunday period,” is how Tibor Lak, the arena’s manager and finance manager, sums up the coming 18 months. Even though they are seeing “slightly fewer arena tours this year,” they have, he says, “welcomed lots of new and extremely popular local bands who were able to have sold-out events as a first arena show.” To further expand, Lak is looking at new genres like e-sports, as well as corporate events and international conferences.

Challenges remain, though. While Hungary has significantly decreased the record inflation that plagued 2023 and is now enjoying stable economic growth, aftershocks remain. “Because of extreme inflation, we saw a significant cost increase both in venue maintenance and event management – this could not be passed on to our customers,” says Lak. “Furthermore, there is a lack of manpower in several areas, like cleaning, security, etc., so we must spend more time monitoring subcontractors’ services to maintain quality.”

While negotiations continue on the long-term venue operation contract with the state, which currently concludes at the end of 2025, the arena is also continuously investing to improve both the fan and artist experience. “We have updated our dressing rooms for the main acts, and our exclusive catering partner is continuously working on new solutions to speed up service delivery,” says Lak.

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