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ASM Global to operate new £260m venue complex

ASM Global will be the venue management provider for a new £260 million arena, conference and exhibition centre on Gateshead Quays in Newcastle, as the operator further expands its UK footprint.

ASM Global, the result of a merger between SMG Facilities and AEG Facilities today  (11 October) cleared by the UK’s Competitions and Markets Authority, has signed a long-term agreement with developer Ask Real Estate and investor Patrizia to operate the 12,500-capacity venue.

It is estimated that the ten-acre Gateshead complex, due to open by 2023, will generate £30m for the economy and attract up to 300,000 new visitors to the region each year. Global architecture firm Hok has been appointed to design to new arena.

“We are thrilled to have selected ASM Global as our operator,” comments Ask Real Estate MD John Hughes.

“ASM Global have a global reputation for excellence and their experience will be key in helping us to develop what will be one of Europe’s key cultural locations”

“They have a global reputation for excellence and their experience will be key in helping us to develop what will be one of Europe’s key cultural locations. We have been working closely with them to ensure the arena will be able to accommodate the rapid advances in sound and production technology.”

ASM Global’s executive vice president for Europe, John Sharkey, says the operator is “delighted to bring to market such an ambitious development”.

“We look forward to building upon the success of the Utilita Arena (11,400-cap.) and Whitley Bay Playhouse (630-cap.), and leveraging our regional strength to further develop the events landscape and grow the north east economy,” says Sharkey.

In addition to its venues in the north east of England, ASM Global’s UK portfolio includes the O2 Arena (20,000-cap.), the SSE Arena, Wembley (12,500-cap.), Manchester Arena (21,000-cap.), the First Direct Arena in Leeds (13,700-cap.), Glasgow’s SSE Hydro Arena (13,000-cap.) and the York Barbican (1,900-cap.).

 


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Leeds First Direct Arena becomes biggest in Yorkshire

SMG Europe-managed First Direct Arena in Leeds, UK, has announced a “significant” increase in floor standing capacity reportedly making the arena Yorkshire’s largest indoor entertainment venue.

Following a review of capacities and operational procedures, the standing capacity for shows has increased by 16%, to 4,321. This brings the venue’s overall capacity to 13,781.

“Standing floor tickets for concerts at the First Direct Arena are always in high demand and it is great that even more guests can now be accommodated in this area,” says general manager Jen Mitchell. “The entertainment industry is constantly evolving and our operational teams have been working tirelessly to ensure that the First Direct Arena can cater for all event types.”

“Standing floor tickets for concerts at the First Direct Arena are always in high demand and it is great that even more guests can now be accommodated”

“As well as this capacity increase, we have also developed a number of additional configurations using our unique retractable seating and draping systems to provide maximum flexibility,” adds Mitchell.

Since opening in September 2013, major acts including Elton John, Bruce Springsteen, Prince, Fleetwood Mac, Drake and Morrissey have performed at the arena, which extended its naming-rights agreement with British retail bank First Direct in 2017.

SMG Europe’s arena portfolio includes the Manchester Arena (21,000-cap.), the Utilita Arena in Newcastle (11,000-cap.), the SSE Arena, Belfast (11,000-cap.) and the Event Complex Aberdeen (12,500-cap.), due to open this summer.

 


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First Direct extends naming deal with Leeds Arena

British retail bank First Direct has extended its naming-rights agreement with Leeds’s First Direct Arena for a further five years, with the 13,000-cap. venue retaining its current name until at least 2023.

First Direct sponsored the arena (pictured) prior to its opening in July 2013, initially for a five-year term ending in 2018. Operator SMG Europe says the backing of the bank – which offers its customers several benefits, including presales, complimentary tickets, a dedicated entrance and free F&B in the arena – has played an “instrumental role in bringing some of the biggest events to Yorkshire, from the Mobo Awards to an exclusive Jake Bugg concert and the finals of Europe’s Strongest Man.”

John Sharkey, CEO of SMG Europe, comments: “The First Direct Arena is our flagship venue, and we wanted a sponsor that matched our ambitions for it.

“We are delighted to announce this extension and we’re looking to really build on the already strong foundations in place”

“First Direct and SMG Europe share a passion for customer service, innovation and pushing boundaries, and, as such, it’s a perfect fit. We are delighted to announce this extension and we’re looking to really build on the already strong foundations in place.”

First Direct head Joe Gordon adds: “The reaction of our customers to our association with the arena has been outstanding, and we’re delighted to be able to commit to an additional five years and begin planning the exciting years of partnership to come. Other banks have branches, but we have an arena.”

Jen Mitchell was appointed GM of the arena earlier this year.

 


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New GMs for Leeds, Newcastle arenas

Arena operator SMG Europe has appointed new general managers for two of its venues in northern England.

Jen Mitchell becomes GM of the 13,500-capacity First Direct Arena, in Leeds, after eight years at the helm of London entertainment complex Kings Place, while Ailsa Oliver – formerly deputy GM of the First Direct Arena – takes the top job at the Metro Radio Arena (11,000-cap.) in Newcastle.

Oliver begins her new role with immediate effect, replacing Paul Tappenden, who retired last year. Mitchell takes over in Leeds in May, replacing outgoing GM Ben Williams.

“SMG Europe continues to grow its stronghold in the north of the country”

John Sharkey, executive vice-president of SMG Europe, says: “I’m delighted to announce both appointments as SMG Europe continues to grow its stronghold in the north of the country.”

SMG Europe is a wholly owned subsidiary of SMG, the world’s largest venue operator. SMG was sold to private-equity firm Ares Capital for US$3.43 billion, or $14.95 per share, last June.

 


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