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Mexico’s live business has embarked on a whole new life since the pandemic.
The Foro Sol is humming, festivals are booming, and meanwhile, the nation’s arenas are bursting at the seams. “People are simply going to a lot more festivals, a lot more concerts,” Leizer Guss, OCESA’s deputy director of international events told IQ in February. “Clearly the world changed, clearly consumption has changed. We are selling to more people now.”
Alongside Live Nation’s OCESA, Zignia Live is one of two major players in the Mexican live business, and the giant is looking backwards and forwards in arena terms: backwards for last year’s tenth anniversary of its 22,300-capacity flagship Arena CDMX (Arena de la Ciudad de Mexico), and this year’s 20th birthday of Arena Monterrey in the country’s northeastern second city; forwards to the opening of its next major project, the Arena Guadalajara, which was 40% complete as of February and due to open at some point in 2024.
“People are simply going to a lot more festivals, a lot more concerts”
Arena CDMX, Mexico’s key arena and Pollstar’s #7 arena in the world in 2022, had quite a first decade, drawing 17.6m guests to 1,430 events since Mexican superstar Luis Miguel opened the venue in February 2012. It remains notable, with reputedly the largest internal screens of any arena in the world (two 22m x 11m screens and two 11m x 11m screens), two heliports, 5,000 free parking spaces, and 864 HD plasma screens distributed throughout the venue, including the bathrooms.
“It is a venue with a lot of magic, a lot of versatility, for any type of artist,” Zignia Live spokesman Dante Guillén told Mexican newspaper Diario Imagen in February. At the time of writing, Arena CDMX was bracing for Michael Bolton, norteño stars Los Tigres Del Norte, K-poppers NCT Dream, and WWE SuperShow in June and July.
“The 2023 objective for the CDMX Arena is to be able to bring many talents to our billboard and that is happening, thanks to the positioning of the arena, with the confidence of being in a comfortable and safe place,” said Guillén.
After Arena CDMX, the 17,600-cap Arena Monterrey is the country’s second busiest arena, with Mägo De Oz, Sam Smith, Michael Bublé, Christian Nodal, and Pesado among those playing in 2023, following a supercharged 2022 of Wisin & Yandel, the Jonas Brothers, Roger Waters, Harry Styles, and others.
Guadalajara, meanwhile, in the western state of Jalisco, home of mariachi and ranchera music, is Mexico’s third- largest conurbation after Mexico City and Monterrey, and its new 22,000-capacity arena, delayed by the pandemic, will be the second biggest in Mexico.
“The 2023 objective for the CDMX Arena is to be able to bring many talents to our billboard and that is happening”
In December 2021, the landscape of the Mexican business underwent a seismic shift when OCESA owners Grupo Televisa and Corporacion Interamericana de Entretenimiento (Grupo CIE) concluded a deal to sell off 51% of the company to Live Nation.
OCESA promotes more than 3,100 events for nearly 6m fans annually across Mexico and Colombia and has a strong business in ticketing, sponsorship, F&B, merchandise, and venue operation – including 13 venues across Mexico with a collective capacity of nearly 250,000 seats – the largest being the iconic Foro Sol in Mexico City.
Major arenas in the portfolio include the Arena VFG in Tlajomulco de Zúñiga outside Guadalajara, which has had a busy year to date, pulling in Ricky Martin, Harry Styles, Muse, The 1975, The Killers, Billie Eilish, and two shows by Colombian folk-pop stars Morat. The 15,000-capacity venue bears the initials of the late Mexican singer Vicente Fernández, ‘the king of ranchera music,’ and also hosted Corona Capital Guadalajara for 40,000 in May on the adjacent land.
Another CIE/OCESA property, Mexico City’s Palacio de los Deportes, is 55 this year, but it remains thoroughly in the mix for major international and regional tours.
Another CIE/OCESA property, Mexico City’s Palacio de los Deportes, is 55 this year, but it remains thoroughly in the mix for major international and regional tours. Roger Waters, Imagine Dragons, and The Killers have all darkened its doors in recent months, and Sam Smith and Måneskin will be there later in the year, with Madonna’s The Celebration Tour and blink-182 cued up for 2024. The venue, which runs at a capacity of around 20,000, is currently getting a new zinc roof.
Also on CIE/OCESA’s books is the new 10,000-capacity Arena GNP Seguros in Acapulco, where OV7, Christian Nodal, Mastute, and Gloria Trevi have all recently been seen. The venue opened in 2022 and is the home venue of the Mexican Open tennis tournament.
The 16,500-cap Arena México is also the site of occasional concerts, but it is mainly a lucha libre wrestling venue, known as ‘the cathedral of lucha libre,’ with matches many nights a month.