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AEG Europe given green light for Edinburgh Park arena

AEG Europe has secured planning permission for a new 8,500-capacity arena in Edinburgh Park, Scotland.

The City of Edinburgh Council announced the decision at midday today after the application was put forward with a recommendation for approval.

Construction on the privately funded arena is proposed to begin in 2025 and will continue over the course of two years, with the aim of delivering the first event in 2027.

AEG Europe, which owns London’s The O2 Arena and Berlin’s Uber Arena, are working with award-winning developers and site owners Parabola on the new arena, which will span 18,500 square metres and attract an estimated 700,000 visitors per year.

“We are delighted to have been granted planning consent for a cutting-edge new venue for Edinburgh”

AEG Europe Guest Experience and Sustainability experts have also been involved in the planning process in a bid to make Edinburgh Park the UK’s most sustainable arena.

“We are delighted to have been granted planning consent for a cutting-edge new venue for Edinburgh,” says Alex Hill, president and CEO of AEG Europe. “Having worked closely with City of Edinburgh Council, we strongly believe the arena will deliver huge benefits to the city throughout every stage of the building’s life cycle – from development to completion, for years to come when we’re bringing the world’s best artists to the Scottish stage.”

Alistair Wood, executive vice president, real estate and development, AEG Europe, adds: “We thank the City of Edinburgh Council for their forward-thinking and proactive approach and for their shared vision of a new best-in-class arena for Edinburgh. We now turn our attention to expanding on these plans through the appointment of an external contractor, as well as seeking naming rights partners and finalising funding partners.”

Edinburgh’s current largest indoor venue is the 3,000-cap O2 Academy Edinburgh.

 


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AEG Global Partnerships seeks naming rights deals

AEG Global Partnerships is searching for naming rights partners for its new venue at Olympia in London.

Set to open in summer 2025, the 4,000-cap West London venue will form the centrepiece of the £1.3 billion (€1.55bn) redevelopment of the 14-acre Olympia Estate.

The venue, which will be located above the existing west exhibition hall, will be operated by AEG, which signed a ‘long-term agreement’ with owners Yoo Capital and Deutsche Finance International who acquired Olympia in 2017 for €330 million.

In addition, the team – the partnerships arm of AEG Europe – is also seeking a partner for the Hammersmith Apollo, with its current naming rights partnership with Eventim expiring at the end of the year.

“Since the pandemic, brands have been keen to get back in front of consumers, and build truly long-lasting relationships based on mutual benefits and trust”

“Since the pandemic, brands have been keen to get back in front of consumers, and build truly long-lasting relationships based on mutual benefits and trust,” says Paul Samuels, EVP of AEG Global Partnerships. “Sponsored events are rated the preferred media channel among consumers, according to the 2023 Kantar Media Reactions survey, because unlike an advert that lasts just seconds, an event lasts hours, giving brands longer to engage with fans and – better still – enhance their experience.”

The new naming rights partners will join Qatar Airways, IG Group and Uber, who have all joined the ranks since the beginning of 2024.

“We’ve started working with more than 110 new partners in the past 12 months, and now we’re looking for two ambitious brands who want to take on the naming rights to two world-class venues,” adds Samuels. “In addition to the obvious perks of being a naming rights partner, wider activations can help to achieve a range of objectives, from increasing consideration and rewarding loyal customers, to meeting sustainability objectives.”

Along with naming rights partners, AEG Global Partnerships is seeking category partners who will be able to elevate the experiences of those visiting the venue.

 


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Munich and Edinburgh arena plans move forward

Proposed new arena developments in Munich, Germany and Edinburgh, Scotland are edging closer to reality.

Bavaria-based developer SWMunich Real Estate this week presented an update on its MUCcc Arena scheme in Munich to the district town of Freising’s planning and design advisory board.

The board, which comprised experts from various disciplines, praised the quality of the planning and architecture of the venue, in addition to making suggestions that will be incorporated into the climate-neutral arena project.

“The presentation of the project has shown us how well thought-out planning and sophisticated architecture can go hand in hand,” says Prof Dr Rudolf Hierl, chair of the design advisory board. “The concert arena sets new standards for architectural and urban quality in our region. We are delighted to be able to support this project.”

SWMunich will build and operate the 20,000-cap venue, backed by more than €300 million of private sector investment.

“The positive response from the design advisory board encourages us in our endeavours to create a concert arena that meets the highest standards,” says Munich Arena managing partner Lorenz Schmid. “The advisory board’s suggestions will flow directly into the further development of the Munich Arena concert arena to make it an enrichment for Freising and the region.”

“We’re determined to enhance Edinburgh as a venue for live music and other events”

Designed by Populous, the arena will be located in a new green space next to LabCampus, the technology and innovation centre at Munich Airport, with the seating to be arranged in a 270° horseshoe shape.

“We are proud to realise a project like the concert arena in our city, which is not only architecturally impressive, but also offers enormous economic and cultural advantages,” adds Freising mayor Tobias Eschenbacher.

Meanwhile, AEG Europe’s proposed 8,500-capacity arena project in Edinburgh is also on track after being backed by planning officers ahead of a council meeting later this month. The promoter and venue operator is seeking planning permission for the venue in Edinburgh Park, with hopes to launch it in 2027.

“We’re delighted that the proposals for a new arena in Edinburgh are recommended for approval and we look forward to presenting the facts about the proposals at committee and answering any questions elected members may have,” says Alistair Wood, AEG Europe’s EVP, real estate and development. “This reflects month of consultation and discussion with the public and key stakeholders prior to the application being submitted and a positive ongoing dialogue with all throughout the application process.

“This is the most sustainable site available and we’re determined to enhance Edinburgh as a venue for live music and other events. We are hopeful the planning committee will support the officers’ recommendations.”

Subject to planning permission, work is expected to begin on the project in early 2025. The Scottish capital’s current largest indoor venues are the 3,059-cap Edinburgh Playhouse and 3,000-cap O2 Academy Edinburgh.

 


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Earth Day 2024: Live’s sustainability priorities

A range of industry figures have shared their sustainability priorities for the live music business to mark Earth Day 2024 – an annual event highlighting the importance of environmental protection.

While the sector continues to raise its game on green issues, there remains plenty of room for improvement. It was announced earlier this year that a comprehensive study of the live music industry’s carbon footprint is being conducted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and co-funded by Coldplay, Live Nation and Warner Music Group.

The report will suggest practical solutions to reduce the environmental impact of live music events “at every level,” from pubs and clubs to stadiums.

Last week, meanwhile, The O2 in London revealed that more than 545.9 tonnes of carbon were extracted across The 1975’s four headline concerts in February. The shows marked the world’s first carbon-removed arena events and took place in collaboration with carbon removal experts CUR8 and sustainable event specialists A Greener Future (AGF).

“This year is all about firming up our path to net zero,” AEG Europe director of sustainability Sam Booth tells IQ. “After the success of our recent pilot series of carbon removed arena events at The O2, we now need to undertake some detailed work around our general gas usage, as well as figuring out our approach to dealing with fan travel and continue working with brand partners to address the emissions of the products we sell in the arena.

“Education is also an incredibly important area of focus, so we’re rolling out training to all our employees to ensure they know how to make more sustainable choices in their day-to-day roles.”

“How sustainable we can be with our power, transport, water, food, etc, all depends on policies, legislation, taxes and subsidies that make better choices possible”

Elsewhere, in January, sustainability initiative Vision:2025 and Julie’s Bicycle launched a 12-month pilot with 10 local authorities to test how the Green Events Code of Practice (GECOP) can be used to embed sustainability within local authority processes.

“We’re all looking for a simple answer to the question: What does good look like?” Vision:2025 chair Chris Johnson, co-founder of the UK’s Shambala Festival, tells IQ. “Our priority for 2024 is to test the new Green Events Code of Practice with local authorities, and take steps toward establishing an acceptable minimum best practice for sustainability across the UK that promoters, supply chain and local authorities understand.”

AGF (A Greener Future) recently hailed “significant areas of improvement” in festival sustainability after surveying more than 40 European events. The sustainability not-for-profit released its Festival Sustainability Report, comprising data analysis on mobility, food & drink, water & sanitation, power & fuel use, waste & recycling, and carbon emissions at events on the continent.

“In 2024 the largest number of the global population will be called to vote,” says AGF co-founder Claire O’Neill, who organises the Green Events & Innovations Conference (GEI). “How sustainable we can be with our power, transport, water, food, etc, all depends on policies, legislation, taxes and subsidies that make better choices possible. We need to have governments in power who will understand and support a just transition to a green economy.

“In the UK, voters now have to use photo ID to vote, which is a hurdle for many. We’re supporting #JustVote24 to help young and disadvantaged people to get their voter ID if they don’t have a passport/driving license or old persons bus pass, and to then get them to vote. The music campaign is called #crashtheparty and we urge everyone in live music to get behind this and local equivalents.”

Germany-based Holger Jan Schmidt, who heads up pan-European think-tank GO Group (Green Operations Europe) and is  general secretary of the European festival association Yourope, points out the latter organisation has adapted its approach a little of late.

“The focus today is less on honouring the spearheads of sustainable festivals and more on making the sector future-proof at large”

“Although we continue to present the Green Operations Award, the focus today is less on honouring the spearheads of sustainable festivals and more on making the sector future-proof at large,” says Schmidt, speaking to IQ. “Yourope today offers freely usable tools that enable every festival out there to position itself accordingly, train the team and benefit from the great expertise of the frontrunners. Examples of this are our European Green festival Roadmap 2030 and the Future Festival Tools with self-assessment tool, e-learning course and best practice guide.

“For this purpose, our association works with both the expert organisations in the live entertainment industry and with the festivals directly in order to identify their needs and develop tailor-made measures.”

In a further notable development, six Spanish music promoters – Advanced Music, Bring The Noise, Centris, elrow, The Music Republic and Sharemusic! – have inked strategic sponsorship agreements with Madrid-based global energy company Repsol to jointly promote the use of different multi-energy solutions and reduce their CO2 footprint.

The agreement initially covers 77 events managed by the firms in Spain and Portugal, rising to 89. Festivals such as the FIB, Arenal Sound, Sonar Lisbon and O son de Camiño will use 100% renewable fuels, among other solutions, to reduce their CO2 emissions.

Meanwhile, venue management company ASM Global, which operates more than 50 green certified venues, has marked Earth Month 2024 by naming Lindsay Arell as chief sustainability officer as it ramps up its efforts to convert its 400-strong venue portfolio to “the most sustainable on earth”.

After founding her own company, Honeycomb Strategies, Arell led the development of the ASM Global ACTS sustainability plan and is a past chair of both the Events Industry Council Sustainability Committee (EIC) and ASTM Venue Sustainability Standard. Arell’s new role forms part of ASM’s sustainability goals, announced in 2023, which include the elimination of single use plastic.

“Sustainability should be the cause of our lifetime in our industry”

“I’m thrilled at the chance to spearhead ASM’s sustainability initiatives working alongside our teams and communities across our over 400 global venues.” says Arell. “By providing our venue teams with the necessary knowledge and resources, we can accelerate the progress of our programme significantly.”

Just last week plans were announced for ASM to join with reuse platform r.World to rapidly introduce reusable service ware in venues throughout ASM’s portfolio.

Fellow venue giant Oak View Group (OVG) welcomes the world’s second carbon-neutral arena this month in Manchester’s Co-op Live, following the firm’s Climate Pledge Arena, with UBS Arena slated to follow. Speaking at ILMC 36 in London, OVG chief Tim Leiweke said: “Climate Pledge can’t be the only carbon-neutral arena in the world or else [the industry] has failed. We as an industry should lead this charge… sustainability should be the cause of our lifetime in our industry.”

He added: “We as a company are going to continue to build these arenas and make sustainability a priority and a way of life in our culture and then hopefully, it will inspire our industry to come along with us.”

OVG COO Francesca Bodie agreed: “Sustainability is part of our core DNA and we want to make sure that we’re not only championing but challenging our industry to get better.”

In addition, REVERB, which partners with artists, festivals, and venues to reduce their environmental footprint, is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. Working with artist partners like Billie Eilish, The 1975, Odesza, Harry Styles, Dave Matthews Band, Boygenius, Jack Johnson, The Lumineers, Dead & Company, Tame Impala, and many more, REVERB has created and executed comprehensive sustainability and fan engagement programmes on over 350 tours, 60 festivals, and 7,000 concerts.

Positive impacts to date include neutralising 375,000+ tons of CO2e, raising over $12m for environmental causes, hosting over 5,000 NGOs in fan-facing Action Villages, and preventing the use of over 4m single-use plastic bottles at concerts.

 


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AEG Europe submits Edinburgh Park arena proposal

AEG Europe has submitted a planning application for its proposed 8,500-capacity arena project in Edinburgh.

If granted approval by the city council, the venue will support the regeneration of the Edinburgh Park area alongside master developers Parabola.

Spanning 18,500 square metres, the arena is estimated to attract more than 700,000 visitors per year, with the company hoping to receive planning permission by June 2024 with a view of appointing an external contractor to start work thereafter.

“We are thrilled to be progressing with our plans for a spectacular new arena for Edinburgh,” says AEG Europe president and CEO Alex Hill. “The city has long been renowned as a destination for global culture and one of the world’s best for the arts and live entertainment. We’re excited to build on this reputation and bring world-class live music and entertainment to Edinburgh, as well as investing in the wider Edinburgh Park community through the creation of 1,000+ employment opportunities.”

“It’s been fantastic to see such strong support for our plans, and therefore we are hopeful for a swift and clear decision following our planning application”

The application follows a series of in-person public consultation events, held in December 2023 and January 2024. AEG has previously stated it hopes to launch the venue in 2027.

“We’re delighted by the feedback and valuable insights we’ve received during the extensive consultation and public exhibition process,” adds Alistair Wood, EVP of real estate & development for AEG Europe. “It’s been fantastic to see such strong support for our plans, and therefore we are hopeful for a swift and clear decision following our planning application.

“If we were able to secure planning permission, our focus would then immediately turn to identifying a building contractor and naming rights partner to bring this exciting project to life on site.”

Edinburgh’s current largest indoor venue is the 3,000-cap O2 Academy Edinburgh.

 


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Uber and AEG Europe seal Berlin venue partnership

Uber and AEG Europe have inked the largest naming rights partnership in Germany.

The companies have agreed a long-term deal for AEG’s two venues in Berlin-Friedrichshain, as well as the surrounding entertainment district.

From 22 March, Berlin’s Mercedes-Benz Arena and Verti Music Hall will be renamed Uber Arena and Uber Eats Music Hall, respectively – alongside the adjacent restaurants, cinema and bowling alley that make up Uber Platz (currently Mercedes Platz) – in a first-of-its-kind deal in the market.

“In Uber we have gained an innovative, globally renowned brand, who like AEG Europe, are passionate about creating a best-in-class customer journey and guest experience,” says Paul Samuels, EVP for AEG Global Partnerships. “We are thrilled to be collaborating with Uber and look forward to opening the doors of the Uber Arena and Uber Eats Music Hall for the first time in an official capacity on 22 March, yet also extend our appreciation to Mercedes-Benz and Verti, whom Uber succeeds as naming rights partner, for their collaboration over the past eight and six years respectively.”

“This one-of-a-kind investment is a big testament to our commitment to German cities and in particular to Berlin’s art, culture and sports scene”

Attracting 1.5 million visitors a year, the Uber Arena (cap. 17,000) opened in 2008 and was recently ranked the second highest-grossing arena in the world. The neighbouring Arthur Award-nominated 4,350-capacity Verti Music Hall, meanwhile, launched in 2018.

“We couldn’t hope for a better way to celebrate Uber’s 10th anniversary in Germany,” adds Uber Germany head Christoph Weigler. “This one-of-a-kind investment is a big testament to our commitment to German cities and in particular to Berlin’s art, culture and sports scene.”

The Mercedes-Benz brand will be staying on board as a partner of the Uber Arena in a more general capacity. While specific plans will be announced in the coming months, Uber – in close partnership with AEG Europe – is aiming to elevate guest experience at all levels, from transport arrival and departure, as well as bringing innovative new food and beverage ordering options to events.

 


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AEG Europe gives update on Edinburgh arena plans

AEG Europe has provided an update on the company’s plans for a new 8.500-cap arena in Edinburgh, Scotland.

The promoter and venue operator is seeking planning approval for the venue in Edinburgh Park, with hopes to launch it in 2027.

A second public consultation event took place in the Scottish capital earlier this week, which features more detail of the scheme, along with a replica model of the proposed arena.

“We did a gap analysis of the UK to see where the big gaps were in terms of arenas, and Edinburgh was the best place,” AEG Europe’s EVP for real estate and development Alistair Wood tells the Edinburgh Evening News.

“We are not planning to go head to head with the Hydro in Glasgow but perhaps see artists who play there also play here. So we are really excited. This should be a great thing for Edinburgh.”

Wood says that AEG plans to bring 150-plus events a year to the venue.

“We are not going to get Beyoncé playing in this arena. But we could attract the likes of the Kaiser Chiefs and other similar level music acts”

“It’s been a long time in the making, but it’s privately funded and in a great location with unbeatable transport links,” he continues. “Momentum is key for us, we don’t want the project to stall and these plans to be forgotten about, we want to get going and get the place open as quickly as possible.”

Wood also responds to concerns that the Edinburgh proposal is not of a sufficient scale to compete with Scotland’s biggest indoor venues, Glasgow’s 14,300-cap Hydro and the 15,000-cap P&J Live in Aberdeen. Edinburgh’s current largest indoor venue is the 3,000-cap O2 Academy Edinburgh. The Royal Highlands Centre, situated on the outskirts of the city, holds 10,500 and is occasionally used for concerts.

“It’s the size of the market,” says Wood. “If you look at the overall location of Edinburgh, it extends quite a long way north and south, but not west. So we had to be realistic.

“We are not going to get Beyoncé playing in this arena. But we could attract the likes of the Kaiser Chiefs and other similar level music acts as well as comedians like Michael McIntyre, and this capacity is perfect for them. A lot of shows at the Hydro don’t play to a full venue, so we think this is the perfect size for Edinburgh and the perfect size for our first venue in Scotland.”

Subject to planning permission, work is expected to begin on the project in early 2025.

“We have had a positive pre-application consultation with the public and planners,” adds Wood. “Generally the feedback has been very positive. People are delighted that we are planning to build an arena in Edinburgh, and we can’t wait to deliver it.”

 


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AEG Europe unveils Edinburgh arena plans

AEG Europe has unveiled plans for a new 8.500-cap arena in Edinburgh, Scotland.

The promoter and venue operator is seeking planning approval for the venue, which would be located in the heart of Edinburgh Park.

The park’s owner, award-winning developer Parabola, has agreed to sell the west Edinburgh site for the new venue to AEG, which notes the location offers “unrivalled” public transport and motorway access, including two nearby tram stops, two mainline stations, bus connections and motorway links.

Subject to approval, work is expected to begin in early 2025, with the first live events taking to the stage in 2027.

“AEG is thrilled to announce this spectacular new arena for Edinburgh,” says Alex Hill, president and CEO of AEG Europe. “It’s a location with immense potential, amplified by Parabola’s transformative development and regeneration of Edinburgh Park. The much needed 8,500-capacity arena will bring world-class live music and entertainment to Edinburgh, further cementing its reputation as a destination for culture and global tourism,. We look forward to this development becoming an integral part of the local community.”

“This investment will complement all that is on offer at Edinburgh Park and ensure that the arts and culture has an outstanding live performance facility”

A planning application will be submitted to the City of Edinburgh Council in the coming weeks, and it is anticipated the matter will then be determined within six months. Public consultation exhibitions will be held at Edinburgh Park as part of the planning process.

“Parabola is delighted to be working with AEG in the delivery of such an iconic venue for the city,” adds Peter Millican OBE, chairman and founder of Parabola. “This investment will complement all that is on offer at Edinburgh Park and ensure that the arts and culture has an outstanding live performance facility. The new Edinburgh Arena will put west Edinburgh on the map as a new cultural destination.”

The Scottish capital’s current largest indoor venue is the 3,000-cap O2 Academy Edinburgh, although the Royal Highlands Centre, situated on the outskirts of the city, holds 10,500 and is occasionally used for concerts.

 


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The O2 launches ‘industry-leading’ Green Rider

The O2 in London has launched its very own Green Rider, an ‘industry-leading’ document outlining sustainable choices for incoming tours and productions.

The Green Rider includes best practice recommendations for how to reduce CO2 emissions, make more sustainable choices for equipment and materials used, reduce waste and energy consumption, and monitor an event’s carbon footprint, alongside an appendix containing useful resources and local suppliers.

The Rider will be shared with promoters and artist teams visiting the 21,000-capacity venue from now onwards.

“As a world-famous venue and industry-leaders in live entertainment, we have a responsibility to help drive forward the sustainability agenda for international touring and live events, and that’s exactly what we’re trying to do with The O2’s Green Rider,” says Sam Booth, director of sustainability at AEG Europe.

“Working closely with organisations like A Greener Future, we’ve identified key areas where the environmental impact of a tour can be significantly reduced, and this document has been designed to directly address this. Our ambition is to create a blueprint for shows visiting the arena moving forwards, and for the wider live industry, whilst also working collaboratively with artists and touring crews to make events at The O2 more sustainable, but still a great experience for the bands and the fans.”

“Our ambition is to create a blueprint for shows visiting the arena moving forwards, and for the wider live industry”

The creation of a Green Rider follows the announcement that The O2 will be hosting ‘carbon removed’ events as part of a worldwide arena first, in collaboration with carbon removal experts CUR8 and sustainable event specialists A Greener Future.

The pilot events, taking place at The 1975’s headline shows at the venue in February 2024, will use a portfolio of carbon removal methods to physically extract the carbon generated by the events from the atmosphere and durably store it out of harm’s way, according to the AEG-operated arena.

Adam Pearson, commercial director at The O2, adds: “The O2 arena hosts over 200 events a year with some of the biggest acts in the world, so we have a massive opportunity here to really drive the sustainability agenda forward in our industry. Sustainability forms a core part of the venue’s business strategy as we strive to reduce our overall environmental impact and ultimately achieve net zero, but we need to be aligned with the artists, promoters and touring crews that come through the door to produce truly impactful change.

“We’re really excited about the launch of our Green Rider and have received a really positive response from the industry so far, but the document will be ever-evolving, so we welcome any suggestions for how to improve this further from the industry.”

The O2 was the first arena in England to achieve its Greener Arena certification from A Greener Future in December 2022, thanks to the venue’s sustainability practices and commitments.

 


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Mercedes-Benz Arena marks 15 years in business

The Mercedes-Benz Arena in Berlin has welcomed more than 18.1 million guests at 1,992 events since opening 15 years ago, according to operator AEG Europe.

Beyoncé, Billie Eilish, BLACKPINK, ABBA, Arctic Monkeys, Ariana Grande, Britney Spears, Bruno Mars, BTS, Coldplay, Celine Dion, Dua Lipa, Ed Sheeran, Paul McCartney, Post Malone, Rihanna, Rod Stewart, Shawn Mendes and Slayer are among the artists that have performed at the 17,000-seater arena over the years.

The multi-purpose indoor arena opened on 10 September 2008 with a concert by American heavy metal band Metallica.

“15 years of Mercedes-Benz Arena means 15 years of highlights and unforgettable moments,” says Ole Hertel, vice president and managing director. “One thing is certain: a cosmopolitan city like Berlin would no longer be imaginable without an event venue of this size and quality. We will continue to strive to provide the ideal setting for top-class entertainment in the future. In the past twelve months, we have seen how people are drawn to unique live experiences. That’s why we’re looking forward to the next 15 years with excitement and optimism, despite all the current and certainly future challenges.”

“A cosmopolitan city like Berlin would no longer be imaginable without an event venue of this size and quality”

During the twelve-month period from the beginning of July 2022 to the end of June 2023, 192 events took place in the Mercedes-Benz Arena including concerts from Robbie Williams, Chris Brown, and Måneskin.

In the recently published Global Arenas Guide 2023, Hertel discussed a new trend of last-minute ticket purchasing in Germany. “If shows don’t sell out immediately then people are buying tickets rather late, and hat has changed a bit since the pandemic. People are probably looking at their monthly budgets, and once they find out they’ve got a little bit more money to spend, they’re going to buy a ticket and it might be within the last week or so.”

Hertel revealed that 2022 was a record year for the arena, with 171 events held. “The most we ever had [previously] was 156 in 2018. That is really remarkable. 2023 is almost going to be like that.”

Upcoming events at Mercedes-Benz Arena include Fred again…, Blink-182, Ayliva, Felix Lobrecht and Two Steps From Hell.

Alongside concerts, the Mercedes-Benz Arena is also home to the Eisbären Berlin ice hockey club and the Alba Berlin basketball team, and is used for other ice hockey, basketball and handball matches. During the last 15 years, the arena opened its doors 1,023 times for sporting events.

 


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