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Wembley launches rooms for neuro-divergent guests

Wembley Stadium has become the UK’s first music venue to launch two multi-purpose sensory rooms to better accommodate neuro-divergent guests and their families.

The new technology used includes traditional sensory equipment, alongside a stadium-first immersive solution to enable the stadium to accommodate the widest range of access requirements and achieve the huighest level of inclusivity.

The sensory rooms, designed and installed in partnership with multisensory equipment specialist Experia and in consultation with music therapy charity Nordoff Robbins, will provide guests who would ordinarily find the stadium experience challenging a safe and comfortable space to enjoy events.

“We pride ourselves on being an inclusive stadium, and this further reinforces that commitment”

“To be able to open these spaces at the most iconic multi-purpose venue in the world is a moment of great excitement,” says Matthew Owen, Wembley Stadium’s customer engagement manager & lead on disability access planning and provision. “We pride ourselves on being an inclusive stadium, and this further reinforces that commitment.”

The launch also aims to create a pathway to enable guests with disabilities to progress and go on to be able to enjoy an event in general admission.

“We are proud to be involved in this exciting launch of two multi-purpose rooms, which will give people who wish to attend events the opportunity to do so in a safe and enjoyable way,” says Sandy Trappitt, head of partnerships at Nordoff Robbins.

“As an organisation it is our privilege to connect, collaborate and co-create music with our clients.We aim to advocate for their continued access to the therapeutic benefits of music. Wembley Stadium is host to some of the biggest sporting events and music performances, and all guests will now be able to enjoy everything the venue has to offer.”

The rooms will be used for the first time at this weekend’s Emirates FA Cup and Vitality Women’s FA Cup finals.

The 90,000-cap national stadium’s 2022 live music programme kicks off with Capital’s Summertime Ball on 12 June, followed by shows with Harry Styles (18-19 June), Ed Sheeran (24-25, 29-30 June, 1 July), Westlife (6 August) and Coldplay (12-13, 16-17, 19-20 August).

The venue’s senior commercial manager James Taylor tells IQ about the venue’s plans here.

 


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New Colombia stadium tipped to spark tourism boom

Colombia’s new Arena Del Rio will attract an additional 1.4 million visitors a year to the city of Barranquilla, says Center for Music Ecosystems director Shain Shapiro.

The 50,000-cap project, which is slated to open in 2026, is being developed by UMusic Hotels, Two Ways Stadium and AECOM, with features set to include a retractable mobile lawn, a luxury 500 room hotel, three auditoriums and a club.

Billed as the first fully-integrated entertainment development in Latin America, additional attractions will include both a music and sports museum, a virtual reality park, 350 suites, 100 apartments, 120 offices, 100 commercial premises to operate, bars, clubs and restaurants, and a four-port marina.

“This is a great project that has a catalytic scope to think about music, sports and culture as business opportunities in Barranquilla”

Shapiro, founder and chair of music market development agency Sound Diplomacy, estimated the complex will generate US$97 million per annum in tourism revenue, equating its socioeconomic impact to “doing 3.5 carnivals a year”.

“This is a great project that has a catalytic scope to think about music, sports and culture as business opportunities in Barranquilla,” Shapiro told a panel event, reported El Heraldo. “In the last two years, the music industry grew by 18.4% worldwide and that generated an economic impact for nightlife.”

Arena Del Rio president Tatiana Orozco said that infrastructure improvements would be necessary, given the development will more than double the number of visitors to Colombia’s fourth largest city.

“We have to prepare ourselves as a city, there are enormous challenges in terms of training human talent, airport and road infrastructure that connects us with the other cities of the Caribbean region,” he added. “To build it, much more than bricks are needed.”

 


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Joe Giordano named VP of Arena & Stadium Alliance

Oak View Group (OVG) has announced the appointment of booking veteran Joe Giordano as VP of the Arena & Stadium Alliance.

A collection of the top 38 venues in North America, the Alliance provides a united platform for booking, content development, procurement and sponsorship sales opportunities.

Giordano was previously with ASM Global, having spent six years as assistant general manager at the 19,199-seat BOK Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Prior to that, he was regional booking manager and developed content for 40-plus ASM venues.

He also serves on the board of directors for the International Entertainment Buyers Association (IEBA).

“I want to make sure every Alliance member continues to feel supported by the power of Oak View Group working on their behalf”

“Joe’s success has been driven by his deep relationships – with his colleagues and clients, as well as with top industry touring professionals, promoters, agents, artist management and athletic directors,” says Chris Granger, president of OVG360, the third-party, service-oriented division of OVG. “He’s an inclusive and proactive leader, focused on helping others succeed; he’s an expert negotiator, able to identify mutual wins; and he’s a master at content development, striking the perfect blend of strategy, creativity, and boldness.”

Giordano replaces Jeff Nickler, who is staying with the company as SVP and GM of OVG’s Moody Center in Austin, which is set to open next month.

“I know what it’s like to manage a building that must punch well above its weight to attract major shows. I know the importance of entrepreneurialism and creativity in our industry,” says Giordano. “I’m a building operator, and this business is personal to me. To this end, I understand the collective impact the Alliance yields, and I want to make sure every Alliance member continues to feel supported by the power of Oak View Group working on their behalf – from global partnerships to content and booking to an entire array of arena services.”

 


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Def Leppard & Motley Crue tour tops 1m sales

Def Leppard & Mötley Crüe’s rescheduled co-headlining tour of the US and Canada is being extended after notching up more than one million ticket sales.

The bands will be joined by fellow rock legends Poison and Joan Jett and the Blackhearts for The Stadium Tour, North America’s biggest stadium run of 2022.

Originally planned for 2020 before being delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Live Nation-promoted 35-plus show tour kicks off at Truist Park in Atlanta, Georgia on 16 June and wraps up with a newly announced stop at the Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, Nevada on 9 September.

Due to demand, new dates have also been added at Toronto’s Rogers Centre (8 August), Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis (16 August), BC Place, Vancouver (2 September) and Commonwealth Stadium, Edmonton (4 September).

“It’s been a while coming and we can’t wait to get back on stage again”

Mötley Crüe reached a new generation of fans with their 2019 Netflix biopic The Dirt and celebrated their 40th anniversary last year.

“It’s on! We don’t think we’ve ever looked forward more to kicking off a tour than this one,” says Mötley Crüe in a joint statement.. We can’t wait to finally see all the fans across North America again. Get ready for a wild ride this summer!”

Def Leppard, who have sold 110 million records over the course of their career, headlined the UK’s Download Festival in 2019 and celebrate their own landmark 45th anniversary this year.

“On behalf of the band, we’re beyond thrilled that the stadium tour is finally happening this summer. It’s been a while coming and we can’t wait to get back on stage again,” says lead vocalist Joe Elliott.

Emerging rock band Classless Act, signed to Better Noise Music, is set to open the tour.

 


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Wembley Stadium partners with Oak View Group

Oak View Group (OVG) has been hired by The FA (Football Association) to expand and diversify sponsorship, content and other opportunities at London’s Wembley Stadium.

The new partnership will see OVG work with the existing Wembley team to drive additional sponsorship, commercial and content opportunities for England’s 90,000-cap national stadium, which celebrates its 100th birthday in 2023.

OVG already works with UK venues including the Royal Albert Hall, Ascot Racecourse and Silverstone.

“Wembley Stadium is a global icon, known the world over for hosting some of the most historic moments in sport and live music and we are incredibly proud of its addition to the OVG family,” says OVG CEO Tim Leiweke. “As venue owners and operators, OVG knows the importance of maximising sponsorship opportunities and delivering a year-round calendar of brilliant events. We look forward to what we know will be an innovative and productive partnership working with the topflight team at Wembley Stadium and The FA.”

“This partnership will open up new and exciting sponsorship and content opportunities for Wembley Stadium”

Concerts lined up at the stadium in 2022 include Harry Styles (18-19 June), Ed Sheeran (24-25 & 29-30 June, 1 July), Westlife (6 August) and Coldplay (16-17 & 19-20 August). The venue created a second concert window for the summer of 2022 to meet the “incredible” demand for live shows.

“We’re delighted to partner with Oak View Group, which will open up new and exciting sponsorship and content opportunities for Wembley Stadium,” says Mark Burrows, FA chief operating officer. “We’re very proud to welcome millions of people to our stadium each year for iconic sporting and music events, and this partnership will help us to build on that.”

OVG is also announcing a partnership with the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars in the UK. The NFL has confirmed the Jaguars will return to Wembley Stadium for a home game in the 2022 season, marking the team’s eighth appearance at the venue. OVG will be working with the Jaguars directly to develop UK-based commercial opportunities.

 


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Inside Wembley Stadium’s 2022 music comeback plans

London’s Wembley Stadium has created a second concert window for the summer of 2022 as it bids to meet the “incredible” demand for live shows.

The 90,000-capacity national stadium will welcome Ed Sheeran for five nights from 24 June to 1 July before hosting the UEFA Women’s Euro 2022 final on 31 July. It will then revert to music with Westlife (originally scheduled for 2021) on 6 August, followed by six dates by Coldplay from 12-20 August.

James Taylor, the venue’s senior commercial manager, tells IQ it was a “huge challenge” to accommodate the level of interest.

“We had to create a second concert season in August 2022 post the Women’s Euro Final to fit the demand in,” he says. “That was incredibly complex to navigate, but with various parties working together we made it work.

“In order to give the acts all wanting to play at Wembley the chance to hit the number of nights they wanted to do, we also managed to gain approval from Brent Council to extend our music cap, so we are in a good position to capitalise on delivering concerts at the venue and satisfy demand for years to come.”

Upon the completion of next year’s shows, Sheeran and Coldplay will have equalled Take That’s record of 12 nights at the new Wembley, with Take That also holding the record for the most dates on one tour, with eight, for their 2011 Progress Live run with Robbie Williams.

“Coldplay are only the second act to reach six nights on one tour at Wembley and have sold these shows out already. We saw incredible demand, which demonstrates that the public are keen to get out and see live shows again,” says Taylor.

“Ed Sheeran became only the third act to reach five nights in a season, which was impressive in itself as he is an ‘in the round’ show, and thus a 90,000-plus capacity. We have Westlife also playing in 2022, with other acts still in the pipeline so hopefully we are not finished yet.”

Wembley set a new benchmark in 2019 by holding 14 gigs in the space of five weeks, including three dates by the Spice Girls and two each by BTS, Fleetwood Mac and Pink.

I’m not seeing anything that gives me concern over market saturation

“We are shaping up well for 2022,” adds Taylor. “We have secured the two biggest tours out in 2022 in Ed Sheeran and Coldplay, which means we are in with a shout of another record number of nights at Wembley for the second consecutive concert season.

“We have seen a number of acts move out of 2022 into 2023, some as they had arena tours building into stadium shows which Covid has obviously delayed. 2023 is looking incredibly strong for stadium shows and I’m doing my level best to accommodate as many of our holds as possible.”

After two barren years due to the pandemic, England’s capital is bracing itself for a stadium rock bonanza next summer.

London Stadium has a triple-header starring Green Day, Fall Out Boy and Weezer (24 June), followed by two nights with Red Hot Chili Peppers (25-26 June), before the return of Foo Fighters on 30 June and 2 July.

Plus, Tottenham Hotspur Stadium will make its concerts bow courtesy of two dates by Guns N’ Roses (originally slated for 2020) on 1-2 July, while Arsenal FC’s Emirates Stadium will stage its first music shows since 2013 when it welcomes The Killers from 3-4 June (also originally planned for 2020).

According to Taylor, the evidence suggests the pent-up demand from the public is sufficient enough to support the huge volume of stadium tours – enquiries for dates at Wembley already stretch to 2025.

“Given the demand for the shows we have already put up, they have definitely met expectations and I’m not seeing anything that gives me concern over market saturation,” says Taylor. “Time will tell, but nothing is causing me concern to date. I believe the stadium shows at other London stadiums have also sold well, which is good to hear.”

 


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The Weeknd’s retooled tour could make up to $300m

The revamp of The Weeknd’s 2022 tour could generate up to US$300 million in ticket revenue, according to Billboard, making it one of the year’s top-grossing tours.

Earlier this week, it was announced that the After Hours 2022 tour – which was previously rescheduled three separate times due to the pandemic – would be again retooled with larger shows and added stadiums across the world.

The newly renamed and revamped After Hours Til Dawn stadium tour will feature new dates in Asia, Australia, Africa, South America and the Middle East but further details are yet to be announced.

“Due to the constraints of arenas and the demand for more shows I want to do something bigger and special for you which requires more stadiums,” wrote The Weeknd, aka Abel Tesfaye, on Instagram on Tuesday (19 October).

Some one million fans who purchased tickets to the original tour dates are to be refunded automatically, all of whom will be given priority to buy tickets for the stadium shows when they go on sale.

The Weeknd may be able to achieve [up to $300m in sales] this while performing 30% fewer shows

This means that promoter Live Nation will be on the hook to refund more than $100m in sales – which is 2.5% of the company’s total annual balance sheet – according to Billboard.

However, if the overhaul works out, The Weeknd could double or triple ticket revenue up to $300m in sales, by Billboard’s estimation, making it one of the year’s top-grossing tours.

On top of that, The Weeknd may be able to achieve this while performing 30% fewer shows – since large stadiums often have two to four times the capacity of arenas.

The Weeknd’s global After Hours til Dawn tour was originally scheduled in 2020 (when it was just the After Hours tour) to hit 105 arena dates beginning June 2020, but was postponed due to the pandemic – first to 2021 then January 2022 and now to summer 2022.

The rejuvenated tour comes after The Weeknd scored the longest-charting Billboard Hot 100 song of all time with ‘Blinding Light’ and the second longest-running No.1 album on the Billboard 200 for 2020 with After Hours.

The Grammy award-winning artist also headlined the 2021 Super Bowl Halftime Show, which is traditionally the most-watched event of the year on US television.


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NY stadiums, arenas permitted to reopen

New York governor Andrew Cuomo will allow major stadiums and arenas to reopen with a capacity of 10% from 23 February.

The guidelines for reopening will be based on the testing pilot programme conducted by the NFL team Buffalo Bills at the weekend, in which 6,700 fans who presented negative tests, and agreed to contact tracing, attended the game socially distanced

In order for stadiums and arenas to reopen at 10%, all fans and staff planning to attend an event will need to provide a negative PCR test within the 72 hours prior. Fans must also be temperature checked upon entering a venue and will be required to wear face coverings while in attendance.

Indoor arenas must observe enhanced air filtration, ventilation and purification standards, as well as socially distanced seating configurations. The permission applies to stadiums and arenas with a capacity of 10,000 or more.

The Barclays Center (cap. 19,000) in Brooklyn has already announced plans for their first event and will welcome fans back to the arena on 23 February for a basketball game between the Brooklyn Nets and the Sacramento Kings.

“While we continue to fight Covid on multiple fronts, we must also get this economy reopened intelligently and in a balanced way,” said governor Cuomo.

“While we continue to fight Covid on multiple fronts, we must also get this economy re-opened intelligently”

“Live sports and entertainment have long been engrained in the fabric of New York and the inability to hold events has only added to the isolation we have all felt at the hands of this virus.

“Thankfully, our pilot program to reopen Buffalo Bills games to fans was an unparalleled success and now we are taking that model and expanding it to other large venues across the state to not only reinvigorate local economies, but also help bring some fun and joy back into people’s lives as safely as possible.”

Cuomo has also announced that the state will host concerts for the first time in a year as part of the New York Arts Revival programme he announced in January.

More than 300 pop-up gigs will take place between 20 February and 6 September (Labor Day) at venues including the Apollo Theater, Harlem Stage, La Mama, and Alice Busch Opera Theatre.

The governor says the gigs will visit flexible venues with no fixed seating so event formats can be reconfigured to allow adequate social distancing.

In January, Dr Anthony Fauci, chief medical advisor to US president Joe Biden, predicted that live performances could resume this autumn, depending on how widely the Covid-19 vaccine can be distributed by then.

Fauci suggested that if between 70% and 85% of the US population would have to be vaccinated, venues with good ventilation and proper air filters could open without social distancing – though some theatres may ask audience members to continue to wear masks.

 


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Sports pave the way for large-scale events

Sport is leading the way for large-scale events, drawing visitors by the tens of thousands whilst complying with coronavirus restrictions.

Last Sunday (20 September), one of Poland’s premier football clubs, Lech Poznan, set a new record for the biggest crowd to attend a sporting event in Europe since March – selling 17,000 tickets.

Poznań Stadium operated at just under 50% of its usual capacity of 42,837 for the match in order to comply with Polish regulation, which currently states that every second seat in the audience can be made available to the public, alternately in rows, but not exceeding 50% of the total number of seats.

In Australia, the New South Wales (NSW) government recently announced that major sporting events at selected Sydney stadiums can increase crowds from 25% to 50% capacity, up to a maximum of 40,000 spectators, from 1 October.

Selected stadiums include Stadium Australia (cap. 83,500), Bankwest Stadium (30,000) and Sydney Cricket Ground (48,000), which will be permitted to host ticketed and seated-only events under Coronavirus protocol.

Each stadium will also be required to employ a unique chequerboard seating arrangement – which will be divided into different zones to avoid mixing – and a ticket allocation process that will ensure the social distancing of participants when seated.

“Our number one priority is the health and safety, however it is no secret we’re also focused on firing up the economy”

“Our number one priority is the health and safety of the people of NSW, however it is no secret we’re also focused on firing up the economy,” said NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian.

“Safely allowing more fans at in-demand major sporting events will bring enjoyment, employment and help stimulate the NSW economy.”

This decision will benefit the National Rugby League for games in its Premiership finals and State of Origin.

Elsewhere, the Turkish Formula 1 grand prix sold more than 40,000 tickets in six hours last Wednesday – an astounding number for Covid times and yet a fraction of the 100,000 tickets organisers hope to sell for the race at Istanbul Park circuit.

According to Intercity chairman Vural Ak, a socially distanced six-figure crowd can easily be accommodated with the track at less than half its capacity. “We know the capacity of this track,” he told reporters at a press conference earlier this month. “Around 220,000 spectators can watch the race in the grandstands and in the open areas.

“At the moment, for safety reasons, if we close some sections, about 100,000 spectators will be able to watch the race by following social distancing rules.”

 


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