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Arena Market: South Africa

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South Africa’s arena scene has faltered since the closure of Johannesburg’s 20,000-capacity Ticketpro Dome in September 2021. After its closure, Durban’s International Convention Centre Arena (Durban ICC) and Pretoria’s SunBet Arena (10,000 each) became the African nation’s biggest arena-level venues.

Durban ICC hosted its most recent show with Bryan Adams in December 2017. Paw Patrol LIVE will stop by this year, and the Mandela African Boxing Cup was held in April.

SunBet Arena, located in the grander Time Square Casino, is operated by the gaming and hotel group Sun International. Late last year, potential acquisition talks swirled around Sun International – which owns roughly half of the casino market in South Africa – but no definitive outcome has come to pass at the time of writing. The gambling-focused company reported 5.5% year-on-year growth for 2023, bolstered by its December acquisition of Peermont Group, a ZAR7.3bn deal including 11 venues and an online sports betting site.

The Grand Arena in GrandWest Casino is also owned by Sun International, creating a dynamic pairing for the entertainment and hospitality company. The arena duo,
located roughly 1,450km from each other, attracts approximately 95% of all international shows, says Nikki Botha, marketing manager at GrandWest.

“Roughly 80% of all shows come to the Grand Arena in Cape Town and the SunBet Arena in Pretoria.”

“Given the long-haul considerations, it makes financial sense for promoters and organisers to include both cities on their tours,” Botha says. “Roughly 80% of all shows come to the Grand Arena in Cape Town and the SunBet Arena in Pretoria.”

Since the pandemic, GrandWest has invested in a few improvement projects, including a ZAR15m total refit of its audio system – which can be reconfigured for different types of events, such as boxing – and a new flexible spotlight option to improve its concert capabilities.

National promoters Big Concerts will bring a handful of artists to both Sun International arenas over the next year, including James Blunt, Kool & The Gang, and Andrea Bocelli. The Live Nation subsidiary also brought Take That, Bryan Adams, and Westlife to the pair of arenas in the past year.

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