Newcastle Arena becomes Utilita Arena
Arena operator SMG Europe has announced that its 11,000-capacity arena in Newcastle, UK, has entered into a naming rights partnership with energy supplier Utilita Energy. The former Metro Radio Arena will now be known as the Utilita Arena.
Utilita Energy currently supports sporting venues, including the football stadiums Villa Park (Aston Villa), Ibrox Stadium (Rangers) and Selhurst Park (Crystal Palace). The company hopes that the partnership with Newcastle Arena will facilitate expansion in the entertainment industry.
“We know just how important this venue is to the north east, so to have our name above the door is an absolute honour,” comments Nic Rhodes, head of brand marketing at Utilita Energy.
“As Utilita continues to grow, our Utilita Extra customer rewards programme becomes increasingly important to us – and the Utilita Arena will play a major role in this. The venue has a brilliant reputation across the UK so we are absolutely delighted be on board.”
The energy supplier takes over from regional radio station Metro Radio as Newcastle Arena’s naming partner. The radio station sponsored the arena for 15 years and will continue to be the official media partner for Utilita Arena.
“We know just how important this venue is to the north east, so to have our name above the door is an absolute honour”
Ailsa Oliver, who became general manager of Newcastle Arena in January 2017, says: “We are thrilled to begin this new phase in the arena’s timeline. I look forward to an extremely dynamic relationship with Utilita Energy and our continued exciting work with Bauer Group Media Metro Radio going from strength to strength.”
Executive vice-president of venue operator SMG Europe, John Sharkey, says he is “delighted” by the appointment of the new naming right partner.
SMG Europe’s arena portfolio includes the Manchester Arena (21,000-cap.), the First Direct Arena in Leeds (13,500-cap.), the SSE Arena, Belfast (11,000-cap.) and the Event Complex Aberdeen (12,500-cap.), due to open this summer.
“The north east has an exceptional community spirit and loyal connection with the Arena. We are excited for all involved to reap the benefits Utilita will now offer not only to guests of the venue but the industry as a whole,” comments Sharkey.
This year, Utilita Arena will welcome artists including Boyzone, George Ezra, Westlife, Rod Stewart, Little Mix and Kiss. The arena is the largest concert and exhibition venue in the north east of England.
Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.
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.