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Japan’s live industry welcomes several new venues

Japan’s live music industry will benefit from several new venues opening over the coming years, due to a major change in men’s basketball leagues.

New rules for B League top category (B1) teams mean they must attract an average audience of 4,000 per game and build a home venue of at least 5,000-capacity.

This means nine likely new venues will be built in time for 2027. With basketball games taking up only 30 days per year, the remaining availability is a huge opportunity for the live industry, which has long complained about a lack of concert venues.

“The promotion of establishing arenas by B League clubs is a great move,” says Takeo Nakanishi, chairman of Japan’s promoters’ association, ACPC.

“This is a big plus, especially for the live entertainment industry, as it becomes the hometown of each club. Up until now, there were aspects of stadium/arena plans in rural areas that could only be advanced through interaction with the government. The government is now moving in a positive direction, and the private sector has also joined the movement.

“I’m really looking forward to Nagasaki Stadium City, which is scheduled to open in autumn 2024, especially considering its scale. The idea is not to revitalise a city but rather to create a city in Nagasaki.”

“The most important thing is for the newly built stadium/arena to continue to be a profitable venue”

Due to open on 14 October 2024, Nagasaki Stadium City (located in the eponymous prefecture) will comprise a 20,000-seat stadium and a 6,000-capacity arena. This year will also see the opening of the 20,333-capacity K-Arena in Yokohama – which already has concerts from Sam Smith, Saucy Dog and Awich lined up – and the 5,000-capacity Yokohama Buntai.

2025 will see at least five new venues open including The Tokyo A-Arena (cap. 10,000), the Kobe Arena (10,000), Kagawa Prefectural Arena (10,000), LaLa Arena in Tokyo Bay (10,000) and Aichi International Arena in Nagoya (17,000) – replacing the current Aichi Arena inside Nagoya Castle.

Osaka Arena is set to be the largest arena in western Japan when it opens in autumn 2027 as part of a mixed-use development. It is expected to have a capacity of 18,000 and projects 1.8m visitors a year.

In May last year, the Saga Arena opened in the prefecture of the same name in Kyushu’s northwest. The multipurpose 8,400-capacity arena can host a variety of events, from large-scale events such as sports, concerts, and entertainment, to business events such as conferences and exhibitions.

“SAGA Arena has proved very popular,” says Nakanishi. “In any case, the most important thing is for the newly built stadium/arena to continue to be a profitable venue, so we will continue to communicate [with the B League] in order to maintain a win-win relationship. Furthermore, there may be something that will bring great benefits not only to our concerts but also to events and exhibitions, so I would like them to explore various possibilities. It’s like adding more options than just basketball and music.”

 


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UTA buys into sports agency Klutch

United Talent Agency (UTA) has created a dedicated sporting division, UTA Sports, after making a significant investment in Klutch Sports Group, which represents basketball stars including LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Draymond Green.

Cleveland, Ohio-based Klutch is led by founder Rich Paul, a National Basketball Association (NBA) agent and friend of James. The agency also has an office in UTA’s home city, Los Angeles.

“We started Klutch because we believed there was a different way to represent players,” Paul comments. “We understood the world was changing and how athletes required an entirely new perspective from their agents. When I met with Jeremy [Zimmer, UTA CEO] and the UTA team, it was clear to me they were the perfect partner for Klutch’s next phase of growth. They understand and share our view on the future of sports and recognise how there is an entirely new way to represent elite athletes.

“The innovation, resources and talent at UTA [are] going to supercharge everything we can do.”

According to Variety, Paul, who established Klutch Sports in 2012, will also serve as head of UTA Sports.

“Rich has built Klutch with the vision, values and entrepreneurial spirit that UTA cherishes”

The acquisition of a stake in Klutch bolster’s UTA’s existing sports business, which includes representation of several NBA, NFL (National [American] Football League) and Olympic athletes.

“Rich has built Klutch with the vision, values and entrepreneurial spirit that UTA cherishes,” says Zimmer. “By focusing on growing clients’ businesses and putting their interests first, Klutch is built for the modern athlete who wants to thrive at the intersection of sports, media, music, art and culture.

“We are thrilled to work with Rich and his team to build Klutch and UTA Sports into a global powerhouse.”

The news follows an aborted takeover by UTA of music powerhouse Paradigm Talent Agency, after Paradigm founder Sam Gores elected to remain independent. Through Coda, Paradigm has its own UK sports agency, Coda Independent Sports.

Among UTA’s Hollywood rivals, meanwhile, CAA has interests in several sports-focused companies, including Elevate Sports Ventures and China’s Momentum Sports, and WME’s parent company, Endeavor, includes sports agency giant IMG.

 


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