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Building(s) for the future: Introducing the new arenas

As the live entertainment industry prepares for what could be the busiest years in its history, IQ looks at some of the new area projects that promise to take indoor shows to the next level. From Oak View Group’s groundbreaking Climate Pledge Arena to MSG’s spheres in London and Las Vegas, below you’ll find an extensive guide of the arenas set to open in the next five years and beyond.

 

2021

Climate Pledge Arena (Seattle, US)
Oak View Group
Naming sponsor: Amazon
Purpose: Sport and live entertainment
Opening date: October 2021
Configurations: 18,100 total. Capacities for different events will vary
Cost to build: $1billion (€0.85bn) of private investment
Design: Populous. McLennan Design advised on green/ sustainability features
Partnerships: Amazon’s The Climate Pledge, Alaska Airlines, Coors Light, Symetra, Virginia Mason Franciscan Health, WaFd Bank, Verizon and Ticketmaster
Special features:
■ Expected to be the first net zero carbon certified arena in the world and will harness the power of sports and entertainment to inspire change on the climate crises.
■ OVG has respectfully retained the iconic roof of the Seattle Center Coliseum, originally built for the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair and designed by renowned architect Paul Thiry.

“There is no question that the state of our planet is a critical issue for all of us. We have a responsibility to future generations to try to leave them with a better world. We love that Amazon is using its naming rights for a cause we care deeply about – this partnership is a visionary step for the facilities business and sport and music industries. Our goal is to be the most progressive, responsible, and sustainable venue in the world. It is not just about one arena – it’s a platform for us to step up and heal our planet.” – Tim Leiweke, CEO, Oak View Group.

“[Climate Pledge Arena’s] goal is to be the most progressive, responsible, and sustainable venue in the world”

UBS Arena (New York, US)
Oak View Group
Naming sponsor: UBS signed on for a 20-year naming rights deal worth $250million (€213m)
Purpose: Made for music and built for hockey
Opening date: Autumn 2021
Configurations: 18,500 total. NHL capacity: 17,000. Concert capacity: 18,500
Cost to build: $1.5bn (€1.3bn)
Design: Populous
Partnerships: UBS, Northwell Health, Verizon, Heineken, Dime and Ticketmaster
Special features:
■ State-of-the-art sound system that leverages sophisticated engineering acoustics to amplify the audio experience.
■ The first venue of its kind in New York to be eligible to achieve certification under the LEED V4 Building Design + Construction rating system while featuring state-of-the-art sustainable technology.
■ Arena displays will include the largest scoreboard in New York with industry-leading high-definition technology and two levels of high-resolution LED ribbon boards.
■ The utilisation of the Verizon 5G Ultra-Wideband network.

“We like to call this arena ‘the next most famous arena for the next century’. It will be the last great arena that will be built in all of our lifetimes in the New York City area. – Tim Leiweke, CEO, Oak View Group.

“UBS Arena will be the last great arena that will be built in all of our lifetimes”

Coca-Cola Music Hall (Puerto Rico)
ASM Global
Naming sponsor: Coca-Cola
Purpose: Coca-Cola Music Hall has a flexible and innovative design that will cater to a wide range of events, including concerts, family shows, boxing matches, corporate events, and much more
Opening date: 14 August 2021
Configurations: Up to 5,000 guests
Cost to build: $40m
Programming: Beatriz Colón
Special features: Coca-Cola Music Hall is the first medium-sized venue in Puerto Rico.

 

2022

MTS Live Arena (Moscow, Russia)
ASM Global
Naming sponsor: MTS (Mobile TeleSystems PJSC)
Purpose: Music, sports (basketball, MMA, etc), corporate events
Opening date: Q1 2022
Configurations: Standing floor, seated lower bowl, suites, upper bowl; or all seated; or banquet tables on the floor, seated lower level, suites, upper bowl
Cost to build: TBC
Design: HOK, Gensler
Financial backers: Private investment
Programming: AEG and ASM Global
Special features: Best rigging capacity in the country: up to 200 tons in total with a 4.5 ton point load
Partnerships: Ticketland (ticketing company owned by the naming rights partner); Bose (sound equipment); Compass Group (venue-wide catering); and AB InBev/Efes, L-wine, and Ahmad Tea (beverages).

“We are confident that a thriving, beautiful city like Moscow needs this one-of-a-kind new venue, which will be in demand for all European tours once the business is back to normal. No expense has been spared to create the world-class amenities and ultimate convenience for the artists and the fans.” – Rick Krezwick, ASM Global.

“We are confident that a thriving, beautiful city like Moscow needs this one-of-a-kind [MTS Live Arena]”

Swansea Arena (Swansea, Wales)
Ambassador Theatre Group
Naming sponsor: TBC
Purpose: Live music, comedy, theatre, sports, e-sports and conferences
Opening date: Early 2022
Configurations: 2,151 seated. 3,500 seated/standing. 2,500 standing only. 750 seated in section separated by auditorium wall
Cost to build: The Swansea Arena forms part of the £135m (€158m) Copr Bay phase one district that also includes a 1.1-acre coastal park, a landmark bridge, new homes, car parking and spaces for leisure and hospitality businesses
Design: Friedrich Ludewig of Acme
Financial backers: Swansea Council and the Swansea Bay City Deal. The Swansea Bay City Deal is an investment in nine programmes and projects across the Swansea Bay City region. It’s funded by the UK Government, the Welsh Government, the public sector and the private sector
Programming: Ambassador Theatre Group
Partnerships: TBC
Special features: Over 1,600 gold-coloured panels are being fitted around the outside of Swansea Arena, complete with over 95,000 LED lights. These will enable the screening of the light shows, as well as the potential to promote upcoming shows, concerts and other events.

“Located within touching distance of our world-class seafront, Swansea Arena will be among the best facilities of its kind. The stunning, gold-coloured LED skin surrounding the attraction also means the arena is in keeping with the digital age, with top quality Wi-Fi being made available there for visitors too.” – Councilor Rob Stewart, leader, Swansea Council.

“Ambassador Theatre Group is incredibly excited to be operating the brand-new state-of-the-art Swansea Arena. Not only because we are able to play a part in the incredible regeneration that is happening in the city, but to also bring artists and events to the area that have never had the opportunity to before. The venue is incredibly flexible and can host a great range of shows and events – we can’t wait to get the doors open!” – Lisa Mart, general manager, Swansea Arena.

“Located within touching distance of our world-class seafront, Swansea Arena will be among the best facilities of its kind”

Coachella Valley Arena (California, US)
Oak View Group
Naming sponsor: TBD
Purpose: AHL Hockey, concerts, and family shows
Opening date: Autumn 2022
Configurations: 11,679 for concerts, 9,918 for hockey, 10,815 for basketball and other sporting events. The lower bowl of the venue will seat close to 8,000
Cost to build: $290m (€247m)
Design: Populous. McLennan Design advised on green/ sustainability features
Financial backers: Privately financed by Oak View Group
Partnerships: Ticketmaster, Live Nation, Verizon, Alaska Airlines
Special features:
■ 300,000-square foot arena.
■ 20 suites.
■ A 145-capacity private club.
■ A pair of VIP clubs and a premium concourse club that seats 590.

“[Moody Center] should be the first place the biggest bands in the world want to play”

Moody Center (Austin, US)
Oak View Group, Live Nation/C3 Presents
Naming sponsor: Moody Foundation
Purpose: Live music, family shows, community events and sports Opening date: Spring 2022
Configurations: 15,000+ seat venue with the largest event floor in the US
Cost to build: $338m (€228m)
Design: Gensler
Financial backers: Privately financed through a partnership between Oak View Group, Live Nation/C3 Presents, actor Matthew McConaughey, and the University of Texas at Austin
Programming: Live Nation in conjunction with subsidiary C3 Presents
Special features: Designed specifically for concerts, this modern arena will provide state-of-the-art amenities and top-tier hospitality for artists and fans.

“As a proud alumnus and professor at the University of Texas, I’m honoured, now as minister of culture, to convey what a special place the university and the city of Austin are through the design and hospitality of the new Moody Center. It should be the first place the biggest bands in the world want to play, but the last place a visiting basketball team wants to play.” – Matthew McConaughey.

Tech Port Arena will have a first-class in-house sound system

Tech Port Center + Arena (San Antonio, US)
ASM Global
Naming sponsor: TBC (imminent)
Purpose: The Tech Port Arena will host national touring concerts, comedy, Ted Talks, regional/national conferences, product launches, and regional/national/international e-sport events supporting the aerospace, cyber security, and robotics tenants located at Port San Antonio.
Opening date: April 2022
Configurations: The arena will have 3,200 seats on two levels that will include 1,200 retractable seats that can host GA full-floor shows, seated configurations, and banquets.
Cost to build: $60m
Design: RVK Architects
Financial backers: American Triple I Partners, Port San Antonio
Programming: ASM Global will operate the venue and it will be an open venue to all promoters. Tech Port will co-promote or buy direct from agents.
Special features: ■ Tech Port Arena will have a first-class in-house sound system, 60’ LED wall for performances, and a lighting system that will include a 7.1 surround sound system in the arena for conferences, e-sports and music events.
■ Tech Port Center and Arena will also have a seven-day-a-week restaurant and bar experience to support the 15,000 employees that work at Port San Antonio, which will have live bands and DJs hosting after-hours events and festivals.
■ E-sports will be a large part of the complex, which will have a LAN centre and the first e-sport-focused, 60 station, LAN/Arena complex built in the US.
■ The building will be the first test site for the Genesis Water System, which converts air to water and will be a lifesaver for millions of people around the world looking for water in any environment.
Partnerships: TBC

 

2023

Co-op Live (Manchester, UK)
Oak View Group
Naming sponsor: A 15-year partnership with the Co-op to bring one of the most planet-friendly arenas in Europe to east Manchester
Purpose: Live music, sports, comedy, awards, and family entertainment events
Opening date: 2023
Configurations: 23,500-capacity, making it the UK’s biggest venue
Cost to build: £350m (€409m), 100% privately financed
Design: Populous
Financial backers: Oak View Group and City Football Group (CFG) are equal joint venture partners and investors in Co-op Live, along with Harry Styles as an investor
Partnerships: Ticketmaster will be providing digital ticketing technology
Special features:
■ Smart bowl design providing an intimate experience for fans and ‘black box’ for artists.
■ Innovative LED programmable halo around the building facade.
■ A football-pitch-and-a-half of solar panels on its roof.
■ Ten tennis courts creating a green biodiverse ring.
■ 100% rainwater harvesting.
■ 100% electric.
■ Targeting zero-waste to support carbon neutral goals.
■ Sustainable food sourcing via local producers. electric.
■ Local supply chain for the build creating jobs and apprentices.

“I am incredibly proud to be partnering with OVG on their plans for Co-op Live. Manchester is an incredible city, filled with incredible people, and I couldn’t be happier to be involved in their project. It feels very much like coming home.” – Harry Styles.

“Manchester is an incredible city, filled with incredible people, and I couldn’t be happier to be involved in [Co-op Live]”

MSG Sphere at the Venetian (Las Vegas, US)
MSG Entertainment
Purpose: Attractions, concert residencies, corporate events, award shows, product launches and select sporting events
Opening date: 2023
Configurations: Scalable capacity of approximately 17,500 seated to 20,000 with a mix of seated and standing
Design: The vision for MSG Sphere, including its design, is being driven by a talented team at MSG Entertainment, which has also brought on board Populous, one of the world’s most acclaimed design and architectural firms, to help make MSG Entertainment’s vision a reality – both in Las Vegas and London
Special features:
■ Fully programmable LED exterior – creating a digital showcase for artists, brands and partners.
■ The highest resolution LED screen on Earth – an immersive display plane that will wrap up, over, and behind the audience at a resolution over 100 times that of a high-definition television.
■ Advanced acoustics system delivering crystal clear audio to every guest.
■ The system will use a variety of technologies including beamforming, enabling audio to be directed to specific locations in the bowl at a volume that remains constant – from point of origin to destination. This means two people – sitting in different seat sections – could hear completely different things, adding to the possibilities for a truly customised experience.
■ An infrasound haptic system that will use deep vibrations so guests can “feel” the experience.
■ A new architecture for connectivity that delivers more than 25 megabits per second for every guest – enabling a broader range of content and greater interaction.

“The renders of the [Kai Tak Sports Park] provide a tantalising glimpse as to what that experience will look and feel like”

Kai Tak Sports Park (Hong Kong)
ASM Global
Naming sponsor: TBC
Purpose: Live entertainment, sport, conferences, seminars, meetings, exhibitions and trade shows
Opening date: Late 2023
Configurations: 10,000 maximum capacity with retractable seating systems to provide as much flexibility as possible.
Cost to build: HK$30bn (€3bn) including a 50,000 capacity stadium and other facilities
Design: Populous (architects), Arup (engineering disciplines) Financial backers: The Government of Hong Kong under a design build operate contract for 25 years
Programming: ASM Global (concerts and other live entertainment, conferences and functions), Sportfive (sport content)
Special features: Kai Tak Sports Park will integrate world-class sports facilities with retail, wellness and community leisure spaces to create an urban oasis. With its Pearl of the Orient theme, the main stadium will boast a retractable roof and flexible pitch surface that can host a wide range of international, regional and local events in any weather.
Building(s) For The Future_Feature
Partnerships: The Kai Tak Sports Park consortium is led by Kai Tak Sports Park Ltd (KTSPL), a subsidiary of New World Development Company Limited and NWS Holdings Limited. The KTSPL project team comprises of recognised local and global industry leaders with extensive experience in the design, construction and operation of large-scale projects. ASM Global will be responsible for management and operation of the precinct. The Park will include 57,000m2 of retail space, 3,000m2 of restaurants, a bowling centre, a sports health/wellness centre, an event village,
a main plaza, a children’s play area, and numerous outdoor sports courts.

“Kai Tak Sports Park will transform the sports landscape in Hong Kong. ASM Global will bring world-class sports and entertainment events and deliver an outstanding experience to fans and clients alike. The renders of the venues provide a tantalising glimpse as to what that experience will look and feel like and we can’t wait to start delivering events.” – Darren Burden, executive director, ASM Global.

 

2024

Newcastlegateshead Quays (Newcastle, UK)
ASM Global
Naming sponsor: TBC
Purpose: Concerts, live entertainment, boxing, mixed martial arts, sport, family entertainment, comedy, e-sport, e-gaming, conferencing, association events, exhibitions and regionally tailored and produced events
Opening date: Summer 2024
Configurations: 12,500-capacity arena plus conference and exhibition centre with over 6,300m2 including conference suite for 900, exhibition halls totalling 5,500m2
Cost to build: £260m (€304m)
Design: Hook
Financial backers: Ask and Patrizia
Programming: ASM Global
Partnerships: Local and national premium brands, Gateshead Council, regional stakeholder and education institutions

Derby Becketwell is perfectly placed to benefit from the demonstrable growth in 3,000-4,000 capacity shows in the UK”

Derby Becketwell Arena (Derby, UK)
ASM Global
Naming sponsor: TBC
Purpose: Concerts, live entertainment, family entertainment, comedy, sports entertainment, conferencing, exhibitions and corporate events
Opening date: 2024
Configurations: 3,500 capacity auditorium with flexible seating and standing modes
Cost to build: £39m (€45m)
Design: Corstorphine and Wright
Financial backers: St James Securities and Derby City Council
Programming: ASM Global
Special features: Becketwell Arena follows in the footsteps of the success of Bonus Arena in Hull and joins Swansea Arena as part
of a cohort of new 3,000-4,000 capacity venues in the UK, which represent a significant growth opportunity for the UK touring market. This new venue in the heart of the city of Derby will present intimate arena shows with fantastic sight lines and a first- class audience experience.
Partnerships: Close collaboration with Derby City Council and other regional stakeholders, putting the new venue at the heart of the city’s regeneration strategy, with a new entertainment, cultural and business events programme.

“We look forward to bringing world-class entertainment, sports entertainment and business events to Derby, in an innovative new venue, which is perfectly placed to benefit from the demonstrable growth in 3,000-4,000 capacity shows in the UK. We have been inspired by the vision shared for the city, and the growth and opportunities for the East Midlands economy more broadly. Along with a busy concert and entertainment programme, the venue will attract a wide range of business events and provide a great meeting place and activation platform for the region’s world-leading industrial sectors.” – Tom Lynch, group commercial director & senior vice president, Europe, ASM Global.

Emlive will be built atop a major mall development

Emlive (Bangkok, Thailand)
ASM Global
Naming sponsor: TBC
Purpose: Primarily entertainment and corporate banquets
Opening date: late 2024
Configurations: 5,000 maximum capacity
Cost to build: TBC
Design: The Mall Group
Financial backers: The Mall Group, AEG Real Estate
Programming: AEG Asia
Special features: Built atop a major mall development
Partnerships: TBC

 

2025

Cardiff Atlantic Wharf Arena (Wales, UK)
Oak View Group, Live Nation
Naming sponsor: TBC
Purpose: Live music, family shows, comedy and sport
Opening date: Spring 2025
Configurations: 15,000 capacity – standing and seated
Cost to build: £150m (€175m)
Design: HKO
Financial backers: Cardiff Council, Live Nation Entertainment, and Oak View Group, with Robertson Group as developers
Special features:
■ Single-tier arena to intensify the atmosphere for spectators and performers.
■ Seating and floor space that adapts to audience sizes anywhere between 3,500 and 15,000, and a variety of events from sports to family shows as well as live music and entertainment.
■ With world-class acoustics, fans and performers will be guaranteed the ultimate sound experience while noise levels are reduced to maintain a peaceful environment outside the arena.

“This project has reached an important milestone. It has been 22 years in the making, and we have made significant progress in recent years. The new indoor arena will be the primary catalyst of the regeneration of Atlantic Wharf.” – Russell Goodway, cabinet member for investment and development, Cardiff Council.

Cardiff Atlantic Wharf Arena has been 22 years in the making, and we have made significant progress in recent years”

Jeddah Arena (Saudi Arabia)
ASM Global
Naming sponsor: TBC
Purpose: Primarily entertainment and sport
Opening date: December 2025 Configurations: 20,000 maximum capacity
Cost to build: TBC
Design: Chapman Taylor
Financial backers: SARH Real Estate Investments
Programming: ASM Global
Special features: First international standard arena in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Partnerships: TBC

“ASM Global is looking forward to being an integral part of the team to deliver this visionary project in Jeddah. We pride ourselves on joining forces with partners with whom we know we can make a difference to creating and delivering amazing experiences.” – Harvey Lister, chairman & chief executive, ASM Global (Asia Pacific & Gulf Region).

 

2026

Milano Santa Giulia Arena (Milan, Italy)
CTS Eventim
Naming sponsor: TBC
Purpose: 2026 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games, live music
Opening date: 2026
Configurations: 16,000-capacity indoors. Plus outdoor area of more than 10,000m2 for open-air events
Cost to build: €180m Design: TBC
Financial backers: TBC

“Our new arena in Milan will be a must-play for all major tours, and we will also be able to offer top events from the Eventim portfolio to the region around Milan and beyond in our own arena through the four Italian promoters in our Eventim Live promoter network. This is another excellent addition to our value chain.” – Klaus-Peter Schulenberg, CEO, CTS Eventim.

“[CTS Eventim’s] new [Milano Santa Giulia Arena] will be a must-play for all major tours”

Bangkok Arena (Thailand)
ASM Global
Naming sponsor: TBC
Purpose: Primarily entertainment
Opening date: Late 2026
Configurations: 15,000 maximum capacity Cost to build: TBC
Design: The Mall Group
Financial backers: The Mall Group, AEG Real Estate
Programming: AEG Asia
Special features: Built atop a major mall development
Partnerships: TBC

 

TBC

MSG Sphere (London, UK)
MSG Entertainment
Purpose: Attractions, concert residencies, corporate events, award shows, product launches and select sporting events
Opening date: TBC. Planning application currently under consideration by the LLDC. “As we work through this process, our timeline will continue to evolve.”
Configurations: Scalable capacity of up to 17,500 seated or 21,500 when there is a mix of seated and standing
Design: See MSG Sphere at The Venetian
Special features: See MSG Sphere at The Venetian


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MSG: Concert touring to return from late September

Madison Square Garden Entertainment, owner of the New York arena of the same name, beat analyst expectations in the fourth financial quarter of 2021, sending its share price to US$72.55, an increase of 16.2%, as of close of business yesterday (23 August).

The company’s Q4 results, which reflected the return of live events to its US venues, saw it increase entertainment revenues to US$31.1 million for the three months ending 30 June – up 264% on Q4 2020’s $8.6m – and narrow adjusted operating losses by 12%, from $90.2m to $79.6m. Event-related revenues specifically increased by $3.5m primarily “due to select events held in the current year quarter”, such as three New York Knicks basketball games and a sold-out full-capacity concert by Foo Fighters.

Speaking during the firm’s Q4 earnings call yesterday, MSG Entertainment president Andy Lustgarten said: “While we are clearly operating in a very fluid environment, we successfully navigated through one of the most challenging times in our company’s history and remain cautiously optimistic about the road ahead. Looking back at fiscal 2021, we saw number of positives, and I am proud of the role we played in helping to shepherd the return of live entertainment in New York as our venues hosted the city’s first large-scale events since the start of pandemic.”

He also told analysts that MSG is making “meaningful progress on our next chapter, MSG Sphere in Las Vegas” – one of two high-tech Sphere arenas planned, along with one in Stratford, London – “heading towards the venue’s opening in calendar 2023.”

Lustgarden said he expects “concert touring to begin ramping back up in late September, leading to a strong concert booking schedule on a full-year basis” for the company.

“2022 is currently pacing ahead of fiscal 2020, which was slated to be a record bookings year”

“In fact, fiscal 2022 is currently pacing ahead of fiscal 2020, which was slated to be a record bookings year for our company prior to the onset of the pandemic,” he said, adding that holds at Madison Square Garden are up 50% on 2019, the last pre-pandemic year.

While recent weeks have seen a number of cancellations as the delta variant of Covid-19 spreads, the US continues to lead the way on the reopening of the concert business.

The MSG Entertainment president also referenced recent remarks by Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino that the live music market will explode when coronavirus restrictions are lifted, particularly from 2022 onwards.

“There is real demand for artists to be on the road,” said Lustgarden. “We feel even more confident in this after listening to Live Nation’s recent public comments, where they talk about the touring business for the years to come. Live Nation has a different purview to what we do, because they are buying global tours and mapping them out at the right time, so while we speak directly to artists, they are speaking to whole tours.

“Together – between what we are seeing and hearing from artists, and what we are hearing from Live Nation – we feel really good about not only this fiscal year, but what the future could be for the next few.”

In addition to the Garden (pictured), MSG-owned and/or -operated venues include the Radio City Music Hall and Beacon Theatre, both in New York, and the forthcoming MSG Sphere Las Vegas and MSG Sphere London.

 


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NY launches Covid-19 pass to fast-track return to live

New York has become the first US state to launch a digital Covid-19 pass that shows citizens’ vaccination status and test results, in an effort to help venues welcome larger groups.

Madison Square Garden (cap. 20,789) in New York City and the Times Union Center (cap. 17,500) in Albany are among the major venues that have already announced they will begin to utilise the Excelsior Pass in the coming weeks.

Smaller arts, entertainment and event venues will be able to use the Excelsior Pass from 2 April.

The pass can either be printed out or stored on smartphones using the Excelsior Pass Wallet app. Each pass will have a secure QR code, which participating businesses and venues can scan using a companion app to verify proof of Covid-19 negative test results or proof of vaccination.

Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the launch of the Excelsior Pass, developed in partnership with IBM, on Friday (26 March).

“New Yorkers have proven they can follow public health guidance to beat back Covid, and the innovative Excelsior Pass is another tool in our new toolbox to fight the virus while allowing more sectors of the economy to reopen safely and keeping personal information secure,” said governor Cuomo.

“The Excelsior Pass will play an important role in allowing people to gather safely, which will be critical to NY’s recovery”

“The question of ‘public health or the economy’ has always been a false choice — the answer must be both. As more New Yorkers get vaccinated each day and as key public health metrics continue to regularly reach their lowest rates in months, the first-in-the-nation Excelsior Pass heralds the next step in our thoughtful, science-based reopening,” he said.

James Dolan, executive chairman, MSG Sports and executive chairman and CEO, MSG Entertainment, says: “We are grateful the state is focused on doing everything possible to reopen businesses across our region safely and quickly. The Excelsior Pass will play an important role in allowing people to gather safely, which will be critical to New York’s recovery. We were proud to be part of the Excelsior Pass pilot and look forward to participating in the programme.”

Madison Square Garden (MSG) was part of the pilot programme to test the Excelsior Pass.

The initial phase of the pilot took place during a Brooklyn Nets game at Barclays Center (cap. 19,000) on 27 February and was tested for a second time during a New York Rangers game at MSG on 2 March.

Following that, major stadiums and arenas in New York were permitted to reopen with a capacity of 10% from 23 February, using guidelines based on the testing programme.

Similar ‘vaccine passports’ are already being developed, or are under consideration, in a number of European Union countries, including Sweden, Denmark, Poland, the Czech Republic and Cyprus.

An EU-wide vaccine passport that could replace the piecemeal approach currently being pursued by individual member states, was put forward last week.

 


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MSG Ent announces first-ever virtual residency

MSG Entertainment has announced its very first virtual residency with Phish frontman Trey Anastasio at New York City’s historic venue, The Beacon Theatre.

The eight-week residency, The Beacon Jams, will be livestreamed exclusively through video live streaming service Twitch every Friday from 9 October to 27 November.

The Beacon Jams performances will have no live audience and will feature acoustic and electric performances as well as home audience interaction.

All proceeds from The Beacon Jams donations will benefit Phish’s long-running non-profit, the WaterWheel Foundation, and its new Divided Sky Fund (DSF).

The proceeds will be used to deliver help to those affected by addiction and help further plans to open a treatment centre in Vermont.

“As we navigate the live music scene through this socially distant world, we couldn’t think of a more natural way to bring live music to so many fans for such a great cause,” says Darren Pfeffer, executive vice president, MSG Entertainment.

“Trey’s connection not only with the Beacon Theatre, but with all our venues over the years, including Madison Square Garden, The Chicago Theatre, and Radio City Music Hall, have made this unique concept a perfect partnership.”

“Fans of Trey and Phish will be able to attend from anywhere in the world, feeling like they are in the front row of the Beacon”

Will Farrell-Green, head of music content at Twitch says: “We could not be more excited to be part of this amazing partnership with Trey Anastasio and MSG Entertainment to help raise donations for such worthy causes.

“Twitch offers the same intimate experience that artists and their audiences have come to expect from live shows. Over the course of this virtual residency, fans of Trey and Phish will be able to attend performances from anywhere in the world, while feeling like they are right in the front row of the Beacon.”

“I’ve been sober for 13 years,” Anastasio says, “It’s a great blessing in my life. We started talking about the idea of a treatment centre about a year ago.

“I was worried that the project would get derailed because of the pandemic but it didn’t – it actually picked up steam; things are really rolling along now. The Beacon Jams emerged as a way to raise money for it while also allowing me to play for the fans again.”

This is Anastasio’s second residency with MSG Entertainment in recent years after Phish completed a residency at Madison Square Garden in New York in 2017 – a 13-night run known as The Baker’s Dozen.

Alongside Madison Square Garden and The Beacon Theatre, MSG Entertainment’s venues include Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden; Radio City Music Hall and The Chicago Theatre.

The company is also building a new state-of-the-art venue in Las Vegas, MSG Sphere at The Venetian, and has announced plans to build a second MSG Sphere in London, pending necessary approvals.

 


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MSG sets out further Sphere London commitments

Madison Square Garden Entertainment has set out further details of its London arena project, MSG Sphere.

The futuristic 21,500-capacity arena – which will, if approved, occupy a nearly five-acre site in Stratford, east London – has overcome a major hurdle after Network Rail, which manages much of the UK’s railway network, withdrew its objection to Sphere following consultation with MSG and local partners.

“We are pleased to provide additional details in support of our planning application for MSG Sphere, underlining our commitment to create jobs and boost the local economy,” comments Jayne McGivern, MSG Entertainment’s executive vice-president of development and construction. “The materials reflect the constructive dialogue we have had with a range of local stakeholders, and further demonstrate the careful consideration that has gone into every aspect of our plans.”

The updated documents – issued in response to a request from the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC), which is considering MSG’s planning application – can be read on the LLDC planning portal here.

In addition to its work with Network Rail, the MSG submission includes a number of voluntary planning conditions the company says addresses feedback from LLDC and local residents.

“The materials reflect the constructive dialogue we have had with a range of local stakeholders”

They include parameters around the hours of operation, event timings and the high-tech venue’s eye-catching external display, including restrictions on overnight lighting, as well as measures to coordinate arrival and departure times for event attendees.

Another contains a proposal to provide 111 disabled parking spaces at Stratford International station with free mobility assistance to the arena.

MSG originally hoped Sphere London could open in 2022 – a year after its sister venue in Las Vegas – but with the planning process continuing well into 2020, that is no longer a “realistic” goal, the company said last November. (The opening of MSG Sphere Las Vegas has since been pushed back to 2023 after construction was halted by coronavirus.)

The latest submission to the LLDC builds on previous commitments made by MSG Entertainment, including a guarantee that all on-site jobs will be paid at least the London living wage, investment in a new entrance and ticket hall for Stratford station, and a commitment to employing local people for least 35% of construction and operational jobs.

“We are confident our proposal thoughtfully sets out how we will deliver a world-class venue, and remain excited about the opportunity to bring MSG Sphere to London,” continues McGivern.

 


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Layoffs sweep MSG Entertainment

MSG Entertainment, which operates New York venues Radio City Music Hall and Madison Square Garden, has announced 350 layoffs, totalling a third of its corporate workforce.

Its sister company, MSG Sports, which owns basketball team, the New York Knicks, and ice hockey team, New York Rangers, is also cutting 50 jobs, or about 15% of its corporate staff.

“This was a difficult decision for both companies, as we know that our success rests on the strength of our people, who consistently set the industry standard for excellence and professionalism,” a rep for MSG Entertainment and MSG Sports told New York Post.

“This was a difficult decision for both companies, as we know that our success rests on the strength of our people”

“While we believe this is a necessary step to protect the long-term future of our businesses, we continue to actively pursue solutions that will allow us to safely reopen our doors, so we’re able to bring as many employees back as quickly as we can, once a return date for live events is established.”

According to the Post, employees affected by layoffs will receive a severance and benefit package, as well as outplacement support.

The news of the layoffs comes after MSG announced the cancellation of its annual musical holiday stage show, Christmas Spectacular Starring the Radio City Rockettes presented at Radio City Music Hall, due to uncertainty associated with the pandemic.

The company also operates the MSG Sphere Las Vegas, which is expected to be complete in 2021, and its sister venue in London following a year later, pending approval.

 


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Ted King to head up content for MSG Sphere venues

Madison Square Garden (MSG) Entertainment has announced that 35-year entertainment industry veteran, Ted King, will join the company as president of creative content and studio productions, effective from 22 June.

Prior to MSG, King served as a senior show producer for Paramont and led creative development of projects at Pictures’ Themed Entertainment. He has also served as principal of Ted King Entertainment, which he founded in 2009, and was executive producer at Granaroli Design & Entertainment, which he joined in 2011.

In his role at MSG Entertainment – MSG’s newly separated entertainment business – King will lead MSG Sphere Studios, focusing on developing content for the multi-sensory MSG Sphere venues, the first of which is being built in Las Vegas with another planned for London, pending necessary approvals.

In addition, King will work with MSG Sphere construction and MSG Ventures, the team behind the venue’s state-of-the-art technologies, to develop tools that help to maximise MSG Sphere’s immersive capabilities, which include a fully programmable LED exterior and spatial sound.

He will report to MSG Entertainment’s executive chairman and chief executive officer, James Dolan.

“Ted understands how to build powerful environments, making him ideally suited to help us unlock MSG Sphere’s potential”

“With MSG Sphere, we’re using cutting-edge technology to transform the entertainment venue and construct an entirely new platform,” says Dolan. “As an experiential storyteller, Ted understands how to build powerful environments, making him ideally suited to help us unlock MSG Sphere’s potential and create experiences that truly transport audiences.

“Ted has spent the last year as a consultant on this project, and we are thrilled to make him an official part of our MSG Entertainment family.”

“This is a tremendous opportunity to be part of an exciting vision for the future of entertainment – fully immersive experiences on a grand scale,” adds King. “I am excited to be joining the team and look forward to building on the rich legacy of the Company.”

MSG Sphere Studios, MSG Ventures and other MSG Entertainment employees will use a new, 48,500 square-foot space that MSG Entertainment is opening in Hollywood’s Burbank Studios.

The space will feature a 10,500 square-foot soundstage – originally home to The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson – which is currently being transformed into a full-service studio that includes production, editing, camera testing, and recording space.

 


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MSG completes entertainment spin-off

MSG Entertainment has become a new public company, as the Madison Square Garden Company (MSG) completes the spin-off of its entertainment businesses from its sports company.

The newly separate MSG Entertainment started trading on the New York stock exchange today (20 April) under the symbol MSGE, with shares opening at $68. Each MSG common stockholder received one share of MSGE Class A or B common stock for every common stock of MSG they held before the spin-off.

Former WeWork executive, Mark FitzPatrick, has been named executive vice president and chief financial officer of MSG Entertainment, with MSG’s Andrew Lustgarden serving as president of the new company.

The entertainment company retains no equity interest in MSG Sports, which now trades as MSGS, following revisions to an initial spin-off plan in November 2019.

“While the current environment presents significant challenges to our industry, we are confident in the future, and look forward to MSG Entertainment building on its reputation as a leader in live experiences,” says James Dolan, executive chairman and CEO of MSG Entertainment.

“While the current environment presents significant challenges to our industry, we are confident in the future”

“We are also very pleased to welcome Mark, a talented corporate finance executive who brings extensive experience working with well-known companies. We believe he is the ideal executive to help guide MSG Entertainment as we continue to pursue excellence across our operations.”

MSG Entertainment’s assets include New Yorks’ Madison Square Garden and the adjoining Hulu Theatre, Radio City Music Hall, the Beacon Theatre and the Chicago Theatre, as well as developing the cutting-edge ‘Sphere’ arenas in Las Vegas and London.

Prior to the spin-off last month, MSG sold the 18,000-capacity Forum in Inglewood to LA Clippers owner Steve Ballmer in an $400 million all-cash deal.

MSGE also retains majority interesting in hospitality company Tao Group and Boston Calling Events, the producer of Boston Calling Music Festival.

Photo: Min Lee/ Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0) (cropped)

 


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