ASM Global adds to Swedish venue portfolio
ASM Global has taken over operations of two further venues in Stockholm.
The leading venue manager has signed a “long-term” lease with the properties’ owners, brothers Jakob and Mattias Johansson, to manage the Södra Teatern, a theatre venue with a capacity of up to 600, and Mosebacketerrassen, a rooftop terrace that can accomodate around 2,000 people.
Since 2008, the company (as AEG Facilities) has operated a number of venues in the Swedish capital, including the 15,000-capacity Avicii Arena (formerly the Ericsson Globe), 8,300-cap. Hovet and 3,400-cap. Annexet. In 2013, it added the new Tele2 Arena, a 45,000-cap. stadium in south Stockholm, and in 2017 took over Friends Arena (75,000-cap.) in Solna, in Stockholm County, north of the city centre.
“It feels fantastic to help elevate this classical venue’s continued development”
“It feels fantastic to now be a part of and help elevate this classical venue’s continued development,” says Andreas Sand, GM of Stockholm Live, ASM Global’s subsidiary in Sweden. “Södra Teatern is already a great venue which has evolved tremendously in recent years, both through careful renovation of the property but also modernisation of the business.”
“There’s really no better place in the city to see local artists like Albin Lee Meldau, Petter or Weeping Willows than on Mosebacketerrassen,” he adds.
Södra Teatern (pictured) was built in 1852 and is one of Sweden’s oldest active theatres. Until 2018, the theatre was owned by Riksteatern, a publicly funded theatre institution, after which it was sold to the Johansson brothers.
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Manchester Arena attack: Inquiry publishes first report
There were multiple “missed opportunities” to prevent or minimise the impact of the Manchester Arena bombing May 2017, the public investigation into the attack has found.
The Manchester Arena Inquiry, led by chairman Sir John Saunders, today (17 June) published the first of three reports about the terror attack, which killed 22 people at an Ariana Grande concert on 22 May 2017. The report, which looks into security arrangements at the arena on the night of the bombing, concludes that bomber Salman Abedi should have been identified as a threat on the night of the attack.
In his 204-page report, Sir John found a number of security failures that he says would have reduced the impact of the bombing, if not prevented it completely. The “most striking missed opportunity”, the report details, came from a member of the public, who raised concerns to stewards about Abedi’s suspicious behaviour in the run-up to the attack.
Although the stewards, Mohammed Agha and Kyle Lawler, took steps to investigate the man’s concerns, with Lawler stating that he thought “there was something wrong” with Abedi’s behaviour and trying to get through to a superior on the radio, his efforts were ‘inadequate’, says Sir John.
While approach by a steward or BTP officer may have caused Abedi to detonate his device, “it is likely that fewer people would have been killed” than were on 22 May, says Sir John. (Abedi ultimately set off his bomb as fans were leaving the show.)
Other failings identified by the inquiry include the lack of British Transport Police (BTP) officers in the arena’s foyer, for which there was “no satisfactory explanation”; a CCTV blind spot near the arena’s City room that allowed Abedi to hide from security cameras; and inadequate counter-terrorism training given the stewards.
Sir John additionally found that after the Paris attack of November 2017, the arena’s operator, SMG, should have “sought to push the security perimeter out, beyond the City room” to make “hostile reconnaissance” of the arena (now called AO Arena) more difficult for Abedi.
“We are carefully reviewing the findings outlined in volume one of the Manchester Arena Inquiry report”
Among Sir John’s recommendations are passing ‘protect duty’ legislation (sometimes called ‘Martyn’s law’, after one of the victims) for large venues such as arenas which would require them to consider terrorist threats and implement further protective security and preparations.
The public inquiry was set up in September 2020 to examine the circumstances leading up to and surrounding the bombing, and followed an earlier review headed by Lord Kerslake whose findings were published in March 2018. Though part one of Manchester Arena Inquiry says it holds BTP, SMG and security provider Showsec, “principally responsible for the missed opportunities”, the Kerslake report found that SMG and Showsec’s response to the attack went “above and beyond” the call of duty.
In a statement, SMG (now part of ASM Global), says that while security around live shows, and at Manchester Arena particularly, has “changed dramatically” since the 2017 attack, the company will take on board Sir John’s recommendations after having reviewed the full report in detail.
The statement reads: “On 22 May 2017, 22 innocent people tragically lost their lives and many others were injured when a terrorist detonated a bomb. The attack shocked the nation and the devastating impact was felt far beyond the city of Manchester.
“The impact was also felt across the industry and the environment in which we all operated changed dramatically that evening.
“Since the inquiry began, questions have been asked of SMG and others about the security operations in place that evening. Throughout, we’ve been committed to working with the inquiry to help the families of victims and survivors better understand the events of that evening, as well as look at the lessons learnt.
”During the inquiry process, the experts stated that they did not see evidence that the security operation in place at Manchester Arena was out of step with the operations being used at other comparable venues. In fact, the standards that we adopted were in line with published industry guidance at the time. However, this doesn’t give us any comfort. Our guests came to the arena to enjoy a show but were met with a horrific tragedy. For that we are truly sorry.
”All of us at Manchester Arena have learnt a lot since the events of that night and our security measures continue to evolve to reflect the threats we face today. Since the attack, we have further extended the security perimeter, adopted a more intensive approach to checking and searching including the use of walk through metal detectors and installed a new CCTV and access control system.
”All of us at Manchester Arena have learnt a lot since the events of that night”
“However, out of respect for those who tragically lost their lives on 22 May 2017, and those whose lives changed forever, we can never be satisfied that we have done enough. To that end, we will be reviewing the report findings in detail and the recommendations that have been put forward. Any additional actions we should take, we will take as we continuously challenge ourselves to be better.
“Finally, we share the chair’s admiration for those who responded so selflessly and heroically to this atrocity.”
“The chairman, Sir John Saunders, and the inquiry legal team have put an enormous amount of work and effort into this important public inquiry,” reads a statement from Showsec. “Showsec has learnt lessons from the terrible events of 22 May 2017 and, as the chairman has acknowledged, Showsec improvements are already in place.
“Having been provided with the first volume of the report, Showsec will take some time to consider both Sir John’s criticisms and his recommendations before responding as he has requested. As always, the families are at the forefront of our minds.”
Lucy D’Orsi, chief constable of the BTP, comments: “We are carefully reviewing the findings outlined in volume one of the Manchester Arena Inquiry report today.
“I would like to reassure everyone that British Transport Police, as you would expect, has been reviewing procedures, operational planning and training since this dreadful attack took place in 2017. We continue to work closely with our emergency service colleagues, Greater Manchester Police and other experts to strengthen our multi-agency preparedness for major incidents. We are committed to ensuring our staff are supported and prepared to undertake the roles they are required to do.
“We will never forget that 22 people tragically lost their lives following the truly evil actions of the attacker and many received life changing injuries . They continue to be at the forefront of our thoughts as are their loved ones and all those affected by this dreadful attack.”
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ASM Global expands partnership with Ticketmaster
ASM Global, the world’s biggest operator of entertainment venues, has expanded its ticketing partnership with Ticketmaster across its North American stadia, arenas, convention centres and performing arts venues.
In addition to extending their existing deal, the pair have have also expanded their relationship to include shows promoted by Ticketmaster parent Live Nation other ASM Global venues in North America. ASM, formed in 2019 by the merger of AEG Facilities and SMG, operates more than 300 venues on five continents.
The partnership will give the more than eight million fans that pass through ASM’s American and Canadian venues each year access to Ticketmaster’s digital ticketing offer, which includes contactless entry, mobile tickets, instant transfer to friends or other fans, and anti-counterfeiting measures, say the partners, while ASM benefits from Ticketmaster’s live analytics dashboard.
“ASM is our largest partner in North America, and we are proud to grow our great work together”
ASM Global president and CEO Ron Bension says: “With amazing content in all of our venues as a powerful foundation, we continue to discover imaginative new methods that leverage breakthrough technologies to create unparallelled consumer journeys, including innovative food and beverage and premium VIP treatment for fans. Aligning with industry leaders like Ticketmaster is a critical component in providing millions of people with the most seamless and secure live experiences.”
“ASM is our largest partner in North America, and we are proud to grow our great work together,” says Michael Rapino, president and CEO of Live Nation. “We are committed to supporting ASM’s efforts to provide fans with best-in-class ticketing and fan-engagement now and into the future.”
AEG took full control of its own ticketing platform, AXS, last year, though the business sits outside ASM Global. In 2018, it was announced that AXS was the official resale and mobile ticketing partner to a number of AEG venues, including Staples Center (Los Angeles), PlayStation Theater (New York), Target Center (Minneapolis) and Sprint Center (Kansas City). Those venues did not become ASM properties upon the 2019 merger.
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ASM Europe EVP John Sharkey to step down
John Sharkey, executive vice-president of European operations for leading venue operator ASM Global, is leaving the company after seven years.
Sharkey – who joined ASM’s predecessor, SMG, in 2014 – gave his notice in February and will stay on until December.
He was appointed ASM Global’s EVP for Europe in late 2019, following the completion of the merger between SMG and AEG Facilities.
Prior to joining SMG Europe, Sharkey was group CEO of the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre (now the Scottish Event Campus), where he led the team responsible for delivering the 13,000-capacity SSE Hydro arena. He previously held positions with First Group, Scottish Enterprise and Ernst & Young.
It is understood Sharkey does not yet have another role lined up following his exit from ASM.
“Over the last seven years, I have been lucky to work with some of the finest people in the business with such tremendous passion and energy for our industry,” says Sharkey. “I have also been incredibly proud to work for a business which stands for the best in gold standard venue management.
“It was a really tough decision to leave the business. However, the events of the last year have been profound”
“For these reasons, it was a really tough decision to leave the business. However, the events of the last year have been profound across the world and the pandemic has caused me to reflect and decide on a change of direction in my career.”
Ron Bension ASM Global’s president and CEO, comments: “John has been leading the European business for nearly seven years and during that time has been the driving force behind many of the business’s successes, from delivering venues in Aberdeen [P&J Live] and Hull [Bonus Arena] to integrating the acquisition of our in-house catering business CGC and overseeing the significant progress of the Kai Tak project in Hong Kong.
“John will leave the business in December, but before that time he will be instrumental in leading the teams as we get ready to re-open and bring guests back into our venues. I wish John the very best in the next chapter in his life and would like to thank him for the commitment and dedication to the business over the years.”
Bension adds: “We have recently commenced a search for a new European lead, who will be responsible for leading the European business and delivering a number of exciting venue projects including Wolverhampton, Derby and Cantu in Italy, with a number of others in the pipeline.”
Mark Jan Kar appointed new GM of Coca-Cola Arena
Mark Jan Kar has been promoted to general manager of Dubai’s Coca-Cola Arena following the recent resignation of arena CEO Guy Ngata.
Kar, who is currently the arena’s director of commercial and live, will assume the role on 20 June following the departure of Ngata, who is returning to his home country of New Zealand.
Harvey Lister, chairman and chief executive of arena operator ASM Global Apac, says: “Guy’s leadership and management of the arena is demonstrated by Coca-Cola Arena Dubai being named venue of the year at the Middle East Event Awards last month. Guy will be returning to Auckland to join his family for an extended period and we wish him well in his future endeavours.”
“Mark’s understanding and knowledge of the many wonderful and unique characteristics of the destination will be invaluable”
Welcoming Kar, Lister continues: “We are committed to and optimistic about the future. As a long-time resident of Dubai, Mark’s understanding and knowledge of the many wonderful and unique characteristics of the destination will be invaluable, and he will be fully supported by the whole ASM Global team as we grow content for the United Arab Emirates and the Gulf region generally.”
With a capacity of 17,000, Coca-Cola Arena is the biggest indoor arena in Dubai. The venue opened in 2019 but has, in common with other entertainment venues globally, spent much of the past year with its doors shut, though it managed to reopen for socially distanced shows at the tail end of last year.
“I am looking forward to the opportunity afforded to me by ASM Global APAC and [venue owner] Dubai Holding,” says Kar. “As an executive team we are committed along with our stakeholders to the return of live in the city of Dubai and truly excited for what the future holds.”
ASM Global moves into Italy with new Cantù arena
Venue management and services company ASM Global has ‘planted the flag in Italy’ after signing on to co-manage operations, run the commercialisation, and oversee the development of a new entertainment and sports arena in Cantù.
The 6,000-seat arena, which will be complete in late 2023, will be the new home of professional basketball team Pallacanestro Cantù.
The two-tier facility will also provide structural flexibility to allow for other sports and events, including expos, fairs, conventions, and corporate gatherings.
“Today we plant the flag in Italy, a region with incredible growth potential,” says Ron Bension, president and CEO of ASM Global.
“We to making the new arena one of the most recognised facilities in the region”
“ASM brings to Cantù the decades of expertise and world-class service that have made ASM the premier venue service company it is today. We are looking forward to building on our success and making the new arena one of the most recognised facilities in the region.”
John Sharkey, Executive VP, Europe, ASM Global, says: “The Cantù arena is but another example of ASM’s ability to help turn a great idea into reality. We were introduced to this project last year and even in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic we remained steadfast to get to today. I couldn’t be prouder of our team and our new Italian partners and I cannot wait to break ground.”
Financial services and real estate development firm Cantù Next will provide most of the project’s funding – though the cost of the arena has not been revealed – and the local municipal government is in support.
ASM Global appoints new chief executive
Ron Bension, the long-time president of Live Nation’s House of Blues Entertainment, has joined ASM Global and president and CEO.
“We are thrilled to have Ron join the ASM Global team. He is precisely the type of executive we seek to lead our businesses,” says Kosty Gilis, managing director of Onex, the parent company of the former SMG and co-owner, with AEG, of ASM Global. “His extensive history of managing enterprises that create superb experiences for customers and visitors will be an enormous asset to the company. In addition, his demonstrated strategic thinking and execution capabilities are a perfect fit for the next phase of ASM’s growth as we exit the pandemic.”
Prior to joining Live Nation, Bension had held CEO and president roles at companies including Tickets.com, GameWorks, MCA Recreation Group and Universal Studios Hollywood.
“We admire Ron’s long and successful track record across a number of highly respected companies”
He succeeds Bob Newman, the former AEG Facilities chief who stepped down to become chairman of the global venue operator in November.
“We admire Ron’s long and successful track record across a number of highly respected companies in the live events and leisure industries and are confident in his ability to build on the progress made under Bob Newman,” says AEG CEO Dan Beckerman. “ASM is poised for success and at AEG we are as committed and optimistic as ever about the future of the company and the industry.”
Bension comments: “I am excited to join ASM Global. The company has an unparallelled track record of success and leading capabilities. I look forward to working closely with the dedicated ASM Global team to grow the business and to build upon the company’s deep relationships with its incredible, best-in-class clients around the world.”
Green light for ASM-operated Gateshead arena
A brand new 12,500-capacity arena operated by ASM-global is expected to open on Newcastle Gateshead Quays in 2023, following approval from the local planning committee.
The arena is the leading component of Newcastle Gateshead’s £260 million regeneration scheme which will include a conference and exhibition centre, restaurants, a hotel and large areas of ‘outdoor realm’ and performance space on the same site as the arena.
Construction on the complex is expected to start in March 2021 and the project will create around 2,000 new jobs in the region, giving a £60m annual boost to the local economy.
“This ambitious and transformational development will create a genuinely unique events campus with an iconic waterfront location,” says Tom Lynch, director of business development, Europe for ASM Global.
“ASM Global has enjoyed over 25 years of success in the North East and we look forward to leveraging our global and local partnerships with leading entertainment, sports, corporate, convention and exhibition event producers, to cement NewcastleGateshead’s reputation as a sought-after business, leisure and cultural destination.”
“This ambitious and transformational development will create a genuinely unique events campus”
ASM Global also operates the 11,000-capacity Utilita Arena, located in Newcastle upon Tyne, Gateshead’s twin city.
Martin Gannon, Gateshead council leader says: “We’ve wanted to revitalise this key site for a long time. Our long-term aspiration has always been to bring internationally recognisable facilities of this scale to not just Gateshead but the entire region.
“This project is transformational, and today’s decision signals confidence in the North East. Newcastle Gateshead Quays will be a global leader in entertainment, leisure, and hospitality but most importantly it is about creating new employment and training opportunities for thousands at a time when they are badly needed.”
“Despite the current challenges, we need to remember the worth of the events industry. We look forward to opening the venue late 2023.”
The plans were submitted by Gateshead Council’s development partner Ask:Patrizia, which has appointed Sir Robert McAlpine to build the 54,500 sqm scheme, designed by HOK Architects (Etihad Arena, Abu Dhabi).
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.
ASM Europe reshuffles senior management team
Venue operator ASM Global has announced changes to the senior management team in its European division.
Marie Lindqvist, currently general manager and vice president for the Stockholm business in Sweden will become senior vice president for ASM Europe.
The new appointment will see Lindqvist relocate to the European Headquarters in Manchester, led by executive VP for Europe John Sharkey, where she will pick up “operational oversight” across the European venue portfolio.
Andreas Sand, currently Stockholm CFO and commercial director, will succeed Linqvist as the new Stockholm general manager and vice president.
“We are truly excited and fortunate to have Marie, who holds an amazing track record of success and business calibre to further support placing ASM Global at the front of best practice in Europe, as we have elsewhere across the world,“ says Bob Newman, ASM global president.
“Marie holds an amazing track record of success and business calibre to further support ASM Global”
“Andreas Sand has been key to our growth across all areas in Sweden and will use his proven talent, experience and knowledge to build on our track record of success and take the region’s business to even greater levels of achievements.”
Sharkey commented, “Whilst Marie will not become a stranger to the Scandinavian market, her experience and business acumen will be invaluable in supporting our venue businesses and help build the new world for sports, entertainment and convention business success as part of a resource and skillset in a way that only ASM Global can deliver.“
“Our European team is already high calibre and with Marie’s appointment this takes our capability to even higher levels – it is truly a fabulous appointment. She is leaving the Stockholm business in great shape but in equally capable hands with Andreas who is ready for this move; he will be a great successor to Marie and an excellent leader of the team in Sweden.”
ASM operates a portfolio of arenas, stadiums, convention and exhibition centres, performing arts centres, theatres and other venues across five continents including Manchester Arena, First Direct Arena in Leeds and SSE Arena, Wembley.