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AO Arena to show World Cup clash ahead of concert

Manchester’s AO Arena is to screen England’s World Cup quarter-final clash with France live prior to Paul Heaton & Jacqui Abbott’s concert at the venue tomorrow evening (10 December).

Support act Billy Bragg has agreed to perform earlier than planned at 6.15pm GMT to enable the match to be shown on the 21,000-cap arena’s big screens from 7pm. Heaton & Abbott will then take to the stage for their headline set at 9pm.

“Following some lengthy thought and discussion, we have decided that we will now be showing the England v France match on the screens at AO Arena Manchester,” says a statement on the venue’s website.

“We are mindful that there will be people that won’t be keen on watching the match (we did, unsuccessfully, look at alternative entertainment within the arena itself) and also worried about transport home, but we assure you that Paul & Jacqui will still take to the stage by 9pm, meaning the show will finish around 10:40/45pm.

“With the right result this could be a great night!”

“This does mean we won’t be showing any extra time if that occurs, but if it does Paul and Jacqui will be very keen to keep you updated from the stage. With the right result this could be a great night!”

London’s The O2 previously streamed England’s 2018 World Cup semi-final defeat against Croatia before a Justin Timberlake concert, while BST Hyde Park showed the game to 30,000 attendees on the Great Oak Stage, preceded by a performance by the Lightning Seeds.

Heaton, a renowned football supporter, and Abbott have capped tickets for their current UK arena tour at just £30 in a bid to help fans weather the cost of living crisis.

“I’m against greed in the industry,” Heaton told BBC Breakfast. “It’s incredibly important that through the coming months and possibly years, that we tell the fans that we’re getting paid enough and we want to keep it low for you.”


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ASM partners with AI-based security scanning system

ASM Global has announced a partnership with Evolv Technology, a leader in weapons detection security screening.

The implementation of the “state-of-the-art technology” is said to enhance venue safety and security at ASM venues, as well as improve the customer experience by reducing queues and offering a seamless and swift arrival to the venue.

AO Arena (cap. 21,000), operated by ASM, is the first arena in Europe to use Evolv’s technology as part of a £50m investment into Manchester’s iconic venue.

The venue has been using AI-based threat detection screening system, Evolv Express, to screen guests as they arrive at the arena for events, without the need to stop or remove items from their pockets or policy-compliant bags.

So far, the system has been used for eight shows and welcomed over 54,000 guests with a full roll-out planned for September.

As part of the new partnership, ASM Global has been working closely with Evolv to ensure the technology has been tested to government standards in both the UK and US, as well as collaborating on further improvements and continuous development.

“We are planning a further roll out to other venues in Europe as part of our VenueShield programme”

Evolv Express uses powerful sensor technology with proven artificial intelligence (AI) to provide safer, more accurate threat detection at unprecedented volumes and speed of entry. Venue ingress data provided by Evolv’s analytics also helps venues to transform the way in which they plan their security staff and wider operations.

In an industry first, security professionals can use historical and real-time screening data to gain insights and to make predictions about throughput, with the goal of improving the guest experience while making the space more secure.

Peter George, CEO, Evolv Technology, says: “We are thrilled to partner with ASM Global to provide an enhanced security posture for AO Arena while making sure the guest experience is truly enhanced. With this partnership, AO Arena joins other iconic venues secured by Evolv, including Lincoln Center and Gillette Stadium in the US. As we continue to expand globally, we look forward to working with ASM to help bring safer venues and better experiences to more people.”

Gary Simpson, director of safety security and risk for ASM Global, adds: “We have been working with Evolv for over two years supporting the testing and development of the Evolv Express system. The detection technology has been used for some time in America but this is the first such deployment at an arena in Europe. Given the positive experience at the AO Arena, Manchester we are planning a further roll out to other venues in Europe as part of our VenueShield programme.”

Evolv operates as part of ASM Global’s VenueShield, the company’s safety and security programme. Evolv marks the first addition to VenueShield since Covid as security and safety turn to new technologies to keep customers safe and to future-proof venues.


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ASM Global hires Jen Mitchell as GM of AO Arena

ASM Global has appointed Jen Mitchell as general manager of the AO Arena (cap. 21,000) in Manchester, UK.

Mitchell will replace current GM James Allen, who is leaving ASM Global in April to set up his own venture.

Mitchell joins from the ASM-operated First Direct Arena (13,781) in Leeds, where she has spent the past five years working as GM, leading the team through an array of industry challenges and venue enhancements.

With 23+ years working in the venue and entertainment industry, Mitchell’s career includes working with venues and festivals from 400 seats to 80,000, with teams ranging from 30 to 800 staff.

Mitchell has worked in Qatar, Australia, and several venues and organisations around the UK, including the opening of Kings Place, London, which famously held 100 concerts in its opening five days.

“Jen has vast experience and a proven track record in delivering excellent results throughout her career”

Commenting on Mitchell’s appointment, Marie Lindqvist, SVP operations Europe at ASM Global, says: “Jen has vast experience and a proven track record in delivering excellent results throughout her career, including her time at the First Direct Arena in Leeds. Jen comes with great business acumen and is skilled in developing high-performing teams. So, we’re delighted that Jen is remaining a part of the ASM Global team and are pleased to announce her appointment as the new GM of the AO Arena, Manchester.”

Mitchell added: “I am thrilled to be joining the team at the iconic AO Arena and to be able to continue my career within the ASM Global family. There are exciting times ahead, and I look forward to being part of the journey as the venue continues to grow and bring world-class entertainment to our valued partners and customers.”

Jen Mitchell will commence her new role from April 2022, as the AO Arena, Manchester looks ahead to a busy and exciting year, with major live music events taking place including Billie Eilish, Dua Lipa, Celine Dion, Alicia Keys, Swedish House Mafia, Snoop Dogg, Justin Bieber and more.


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EAA adds arenas in Poland and the UK to membership

The European Arenas Association (EAA) is welcoming two new venues, taking the total membership to 36 arenas across 20 European countries.

Arena Gliwice, one of the largest and most modern sports and entertainment venues in Poland, has joined the association.

The Gliwice-based arena (cap. 17,000) opened in May 2018 and has since hosted more than 460 events in the region.

The purpose-built arena comprises two separate venues, Arena Glowna and Mala Arena, which each boast “cutting edge technology”.

According to newly elected EAA president Olivier Toth, Eastern European members now total almost 20% of the total membership.

ASM Global’s AO Arena in Manchester, UK, is also joining the membership.

At 21,000-capacity, the AO Arena has the highest seating capacity of any indoor venue in the UK

At 21,000-capacity, the arena has the highest seating capacity of any indoor venue in the UK and the second-highest in Europe.

Toth says the arena will bring “extensive know-how and experience” to the association.

“Also we are looking forward to following their progress as they transform into one of Europe’s most sustainable venues as a result of their current development plans,” he added.

James Allen, GM, AO Arena Manchester, says: “The long period of separation during the global pandemic has highlighted the necessity of collaboration in a supportive manner across Europe, which the EAA champions.

“Our new headline sponsor, AO has strong links with mainland Europe so it is only right that their arena does too. It is a privilege to have our membership application accepted and we look forward to being active members.”

The addition of Arena Gliwice and AO Arena Manchester comes after Spain’s Navarra Arena joined the association last month.


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OVG given green light for new Manchester arena

Oak View Group (OVG) has been given the go-ahead to build a new 23,500-capacity arena on the Etihad Campus, the site of Manchester City FC’s Etihad Stadium in Eastlands, in east Manchester.

The new arena will be the UK’s largest venue and will rival the ASM Global-operated AO Arena (cap. 21,000), located in Manchester city centre.

Proposals for the new venue, which will bring £350 million in private investment to the city, were submitted in March following consultation with the local community and have now been approved by Manchester City Council.

Tim Leiweke, OVG’s co-founder and chief executive, said: “We’re delighted that Manchester City Council has given our proposals the go-ahead, and we can’t wait to get started, bringing a £350million private investment, creating thousands of jobs, and delivering one of the world’s best arenas to this amazing city.”

“I want to say a huge thank you to the community for taking the time to listen to what we had to say and providing feedback that ensured this arena is of Manchester, for Manchester and by Manchester.”

Councillor Pat Karney, city centre spokesperson, said: “Today’s decision is about confidence in our city, Greater Manchester and the North West. It is about new employment and training opportunities for thousands across East Manchester and beyond at a time when they are badly needed.

“Today’s decision is about new employment and training opportunities at a time when they are badly needed”

“The city centre, our communities and the wider city will be strengthened by our newest neighbour – Oak View Group Manchester. This is the next chapter in East Manchester’s regeneration.”

In June, ASM Global submitted a formal objection to the plans, alleging again that a second large entertainment venue in the city is unsustainable and would have a negative affect on Manchester’s economy.

ASM released a statement regarding today’s decision, saying it is “wholly disappointed”.

“This decision will have a significantly adverse impact for our existing arena, and the wider city centre businesses and attractions it supports,” the statement reads.

“Clear evidence has been presented on multiple occasions that demonstrates the application for an Eastlands Arena relies on flawed research, impossible market projections, is in defiance of national and local policy, and does not align with the adopted Core Strategy to support sustainable growth in the city.”

Construction is expected to commence in November, bringing 3,350 jobs during a three-year construction phase. The arena will create a further 1,000 jobs when the arena opens, which is projected to happen in 2023.


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