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Barclaycard Arena to become Arena Birmingham

The Barclaycard Arena in Birmingham, UK, will as of 1 September be known as Arena Birmingham, following the previously reported end of its naming partnership with Barclaycard.

At the time, bosses at the 15,500-capacity venue (pictured) – originally opened in 1991 as the National Indoor Arena (NIA) – suggested they were seeking a new naming partner for the arena; the new, sponsor-free name is, however, hailed as a “brand that reflects the venue’s location”.

Phil Mead, managing director of operator NEC Group Arenas, comments: “The Barclaycard Arena has been a resounding success since it launched with Michael Bublé in 2014 following a £26 million redevelopment. The award-winning venue has attracted world-class entertainment from Drake to Iron Maiden and Céline Dion, and has secured high profile international sports events from the Davis Cup in 2016 to the IAAF World Indoor Athletics Championships in 2018.

“We are now entering another exciting era with Arena Birmingham as it’s transformed into a destination in its own right within the city”

“Much of what we have achieved is down to the support of Barclaycard, who have been an excellent partner since 2012, but we are now entering another exciting era with Arena Birmingham as it’s transformed into a destination in its own right within the city. The construction of the Legoland Discovery Centre Birmingham is already underway, we are a principle venue of the Birmingham Commonwealth Games 2022 bid and will be hosting a roster of great events throughout the rest of 2017 and 2018.”

Along with its sister venue, Genting Arena (15,683-cap.), Arena Birmingham is one of Europe’s most-visited arenas; between them, NEC Group arenas attract more than 1.5m visitors annually. Upcoming events at Arena Birmingham include the Nooran Sisters (9 September), John Legend (20 September) and the Australian Pink Floyd Show (30 September).

 


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Barclaycard Arena Hamburg’s Müller steps down

Kai Müller, the long-serving senior event manager/programme coordinator at AEG’s Barclaycard Arena in Hamburg, has exited the venue to launch a new consultancy business.

Hamburg-based Elbe Entertainment will provide consulting services to the live entertainment industry when it launches on 21 September.

Müller had been at the 16,000-cap. arena (one of three German arenas managed by AEG Facilities, along with the Volskbank Arena in Hamburg and Mercedes-Benz Arena in Berlin) for 15 years.

“I’m very proud of the numerous moments in which we gave athletes, artists and performers the best possible venue and our visitors unforgettable events”

Müller’s former colleague, Ann-Kristin Schmanns, takes over booking for the venue.

“I’m very proud of the numerous moments – both behind and in front of the stage – in which we gave athletes, artists and performers the best possible venue and our visitors unforgettable events,” he wrote in an email to industry colleagues. “This wouldn’t have been possible without your trust and our cooperative collaboration. Thank you very much.”

He can be contacted at kai.mueller@elbe-entertainment.de.

 


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LiveStyled lands major AEG Europe partnership

LiveStyled, a London-based white-label app platform for venues, artists, sports teams and retailers, is to develop venue apps for five of AEG’s European arenas.

The company will roll out venue-branded mobile apps for The O2 and The SSE Arena, Wembley, in London; Mercedes-Benz Arena in Berlin; Barclaycard Arena in Hamburg; and Tele2 Stockholm, along with the Eisbären Berlin ice-hockey team over the course of the year, with The O2 the first to move over to the new platform.

“Venue mobile apps are a key part of AEG’s strategy to embrace digital technology to enhance the customer experience,” comments David Jones, vice-president of IT for AEG Europe. “With an embedded ticket, our apps will make it easier to get into the venue, detailed maps will help our customers to find their way around and, once at their seat, they can use the app to purchase food, drinks and merchandise.

“In addition, the apps will help us to learn more about our customers, so that we can better tailor our offer and communications to them.

“We look forward to driving a mobile-led transformation in the entertainment industry”

“We are very excited to be partnering with LiveStyled to deliver this vision. Out of all the providers we evaluated from around the world, they were the clear favourite on the strength of the mobile technology platform they have built and its ability to personalise content to individual users.”

Adam Goodyer, CEO of LiveStyled, adds: “We are thrilled to have been selected by AEG Europe to deliver this project. They are an organisation which truly understands the potential that mobile has to enhance the experience for customers, as well as the importance of placing customer data at the heart of business strategy.

“By combining our expertise in leveraging mobile data and analytics to improve business performance with AEG Europe’s vision of the fan experience, we look forward to driving a mobile-led transformation in the entertainment industry.”

 


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Frommhold named VP, COO of AEG Facilities Germany

Uwe Frommhold has been appointed vice-president and chief operating officer (COO) of AEG Facilities Germany, which operates three arenas in Germany.

Frommhold joined AEG in 2007, when the company purchased the 16,000-cap. Color Line Arena in Hamburg (now the Barclaycard Arena), of which he was the managing director. He was most recently vice-president of AEG Facilities Germany, and in his new role, effective 1 April, will support the company’s entire business in Germany, including AEG Global Partnerships and AEG Real Estate.

He now hands over management of the Barclaycard Arena to Steve Schwenkglenks, who has been promoted to general manager of the venue.

“Uwe’s industry experience and leadership will be key in growing AEG’s business in Germany”

Richard Krezwick, senior vice-president of AEG Europe Facilities, comments: “Uwe’s industry experience and leadership will be key in growing AEG’s business in Germany. Barclaycard Arena in Hamburg, Mercedes-Benz Arena and the €200 million development of Mercedes Platz in Berlin make Germany a key component of our international operations. Uwe’s promotion exemplifies our keen interest and support of the German market.

“This is a well deserved promotion for Steve. He has done a tremendous job for the company in Hamburg and with all of his additional assignments” – which include spells in Brazil – “over the years.”

 


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NEC Group turnover up £6m under new ownership

The NEC Group increased turnover by more than £6 million in its first 11 months under private-sector ownership.

The UK venue-management group – which was in May 2015 sold by Birmingham City Council to Lloyds Development Capital (LDC)  – saw revenues increase by £6.4m (5%) to £133.8m and earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) by £4.2m (15%) to £31.8m from 1 May 2015 to 31 March 2016, after adjusting for “certain one-off transactions” relating to its £307m acquisition by LDC.

In addition to operating Birmingham’s soon-to-be-renamed Barclaycard Arena (15,800-cap.) and Genting Arena (15,700-cap.), NEC Group manages the National Exhibition Centre (NEC), International Convention Centre (ICC) and Vox Conference Centre – all also in Birmingham – and owns The Ticket Factory, event management/consultancy outfit NEC Live Productions and catering firm Amadeus.

The 2015–2016 financial results include, for the first time, contributions from Vox and the new Resorts World leisure complex, operated by Genting UK, at the NEC.

“This is a strong set of maiden financial results for the group under private ownership”

“This is a strong set of maiden financial results for the group under private ownership,” says NEC Group CEO Paul Thandi (pictured).

“We have a clear strategy and the management team is making great progress in delivering against that strategy, having embraced very positively the change in ownership. We have excellent visibility of future trading due to the profile of forward bookings for events and we will continue to invest in and move all of our businesses forward, maximising the opportunities presented by [planned London–Birmingham railway] High Speed 2 and the significant investment in and around our Solihull site that will bring.

“I am very confident that we will, in due course, be posting an even more impressive set of financial results for the current year ending 31 March 2017.”

 


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New rigging apprenticeship trialled in UK

Rigging experts from Blackout, UK Rigging, RTM Rigging, Production Services Ireland (PSI) and the NEC Group came together at the Barclaycard Arena in Birmingham late last month for a trial run of the UK’s new live event rigging apprenticeship.

The apprenticeship, developed by the National Rigging Advisory Group (NRAG) as part of the British government’s Trailblazer scheme to create three million new apprentices by 2020, is designed to plug a gap in the number of trainees created by increasing demand for riggers for live events.

Apprentices will follow an on-the-job training programme accompanied by, among other things, certificated courses and two week-long residentials. Successful candidates will obtain a level-3 national vocational qualification (NVQ).

Six trainee volunteer riggers from Blackout and the NEC Group undertook a test rigging installation at the arena on 29 June, observed by assessors Mark Armstrong (RTM Rigging), Harry Box (UK Rigging), Sean Pagel (PSI) and rigging consultant Eric Porter. The assessors marked the trainees against six criteria: general health and safety; work methods; rigging skills and techniques; working at height; team work; and communication and behaviours.

“This apprenticeship is a big move for the industry, so ensuring the right assessment methods are implemented is paramount to its success”

Paul Rowlands, rigging development manager for the NEC Group, says: “The [trial] day provided us with some very insightful feedback that can be used when modifying the final assessment product. By involving both current trainees and an expert assessment team, we hope to provide a well-rounded and thorough apprenticeship, which stands apprentices in good stead for a career in rigging.

“This is a big move for the industry, so ensuring the right assessment methods are implemented is paramount to its success.”

Anyone interested in applying for the apprenticeship should email jobs@blackout.co.uk.

IQ revealed earlier this month that Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers (STAR) is lobbying the British government to create a similar apprenticeship for aspiring ticket agents.

 


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Barclaycard to pull out of Birmingham arena

The National Indoor Arena (NIA) in Birmingham, UK – known since 2014 as the Barclaycard Arena – is seeking a new naming partner as it approaches the end of a five-year commercial partnership with the credit card business of the same name.

Operator NEC Group announced the tie-up with Barclaycard in March 2012, and the 15,800-capacity venue reopened after an 18-month, £26 million programme of refurbishment in late 2014.

NEC Group confirmed to IQ that the current naming-rights deal will expire in February 2017.

The NIA was opened in 1991 by Olympic athlete Linford Christie and has since then hosted more sporting world championships than any other indoor venue in Europe. It is one of the busiest large-scale indoor sporting and entertainment venues in the world.