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“Live entertainment in Switzerland has, for the most part, returned to pre-pandemic levels, and we are also seeing an increasing number of stadium tours,” says Philipp Musshafen, CEO of the country’s largest venue, Zürich’s Hallenstadion (cap. 15,500).
However, while business is strong, it’s not without challenges. “Ticket sales and prices are increasingly under pressure from both the public and private sector, and we will have to see how this develops,” he adds.
Last year, the venue said goodbye to anchor tenant Zürich Hockey Club (ZSC Lions) after 72 years, and Musshafen says the additional availability has been gobbled up by other activities.
“Live entertainment in Switzerland has, for the most part, returned to pre-pandemic levels, and we are also seeing an increasing number of stadium tours”
“Currently, it looks like our business is slowly but surely returning to pre-pandemic levels, so [this year] will be pretty much the same as 2019, just without ice hockey. However, due to postponements of events in autumn 2022 (our first six months without hockey), we will only see the full extent this autumn. We now have more dates available [hockey took up 70 days] and increased flexibility, which allows us to host multi-day shows now, and we already have a few in the books.”
He says a shortage of skilled workers, the energy crisis, and price increases continue to affect the industry. “In addition, we see a shift towards stadium tours and short-termism continues to increase as the willingness to make commitments on all parts has not yet fully returned.
“In this environment, it is very important to remain flexible and stay up-to-date, especially for important business topics such as sustainability. Good teamwork and communication but also excellent collaboration with our stakeholders, especially promoters, is essential for our success.”
“In addition, we see a shift towards stadium tours and short-termism continues to increase as the willingness to make commitments on all parts has not yet fully returned”
Despite the feverish success of K-pop in other European countries, it is yet to make a significant impact in Switzerland, Musshafen reports, while e-sport is also not a common feature at arenas. That presents an opportunity for these genres of entertainment to get a foothold.
“I see growth opportunities for us in hosting events within new genres such as K-pop but also in the corporate market segment. Behind the scenes we, like everyone else, need to continue to optimise our processes and thus also our costs wherever possible.”
Last year, the venue increased capacity to 15,500, and Musshafen says upgrades at the arena continue. The ambience and lighting in the foyer have been redesigned, takeaways now offer different vegan dishes, and the arena has been connected to the city of Zürich’s district heating network. “Now more than 90% of the energy is obtained via district heating, which has a significantly lower impact on the environment than normal heating. We also have a new arena floor and building automation.”
“I see growth opportunities for us in hosting events within new genres such as K-pop but also in the corporate market segment”
So far this year, the venue has welcomed former president Barack Obama and artists such as Post Malone and Sam Smith, with Romeo Santos, SZA, Nicky Jam, Elton John, Lewis Capaldi, and Helene Fischer booked in at the time of writing.
St Jakobshalle in Basel describes itself as “the hall for all,” with 20,000m2 of space that can be configured for concerts, musicals, shows, and sporting or corporate events. With a capacity of 10,000, the venue is focussed on a diversity of bookings. Forthcoming events include horse spectacular Cavalluna and electronic music festival Next.
Geneva Arena in the French-speaking part of Switzerland has a potential audience of over 3m to call on. With performances from Gojira, Disney on Ice, Blue Man Group, and Slimane ahead, the venue can be configured for between 1,700 and 9,500 people. Backstage, it has six dressing rooms, two changing rooms, and a large catering space.
While mainly used for sports, the ASM Global-operated Vaudoise Aréna (11,500) in Lausanne also hosts live entertainment. It will welcome central African duo Calema and the Harlem Globetrotters this year