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Friday round-up: World news in brief 14/1/22

Welcome to IQ‘s weekly round-up of news from around the world. Here, in bite-sized chunks, we present a selection of international stories you may have missed from the last seven days…

UNITED STATES:

A man was arrested after allegedly making a bomb threat in an attempt to jump the queue ahead of Doja Cat’s free show in Indianapolis on 8 January. “Indianapolis IMPD has arrested a man who was trying to get through the security line for AT&T’s Playoff Playlist Live at Monument Circle,” says a police spokesperson. “Nearby witnesses told police the individual said he had an explosive on him. IMPD officers responded, searched his bag and did not find an explosive. The man had unrelated outstanding warrants and was immediately arrested for those.” The concert went ahead as planned.

NETHERLANDS:

European showcase festival and conference ESNS (Eurosonic Noorderslag) has finalised its festival programme. The five newest additions to the festival line-up are Dutch acts MEROL, Wies, Pom and Cloudsurfers, who will be playing Noorderslag, and Tinlicker at Eurosonic. For the second consecutive year, the Groningen event has moved entirely online from 19–22 January 2022 in response to the government’s latest Covid-19 measures.

BELGIUM:

Paradise City festival has been awarded the maximum four-star rating by not-for-profit organisation A Greener Festival for the second time in a row, making it the greenest music festival in Belgium and among the greenest festivals in the world. Last year, CO2 emissions per visitor were reduced by 16% compared to the previous edition, despite a larger capacity. Paradise City returns to Ribaucourt Castle, near Brussels, from July 1-3.

ICELAND/UNITED STATES:

European ticketing operations and management software company Tix Ticketing has announced the launch of its US operations, led by newly hired business development manager Aren Murray. Murray, who oversaw the growth of Texas A&M’s centralised arts box office, as well as ticketing operations at Tobin Center for the Performing Arts in San Antonio, will be responsible for overseeing business development initiatives, assisting venues and organisations in streamlining their ticketing operations. Launched in Reykjavik in 2014, Tix has existing offices in Iceland, Denmark, Norway, Finland and Sweden, as well as the Netherlands and the UK.

UNITED KINGDOM:

Manchester venue Band on the Wall is re-opening its doors this spring following the completion of a £3.5 million expansion project. The building has been transformed with the main room capacity extended to 500 and a whole floor dedicated to its learning programme, World of Music. The refurbishment was made possible thanks to a £1.4m grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, along with support from Arts Council England, Foyle Foundation, Oglesby Foundation, DCMS, Charities Aid Foundation, Carlsberg, Ticketline, Lloyds Bank and Manchester City Council.

UNITED STATES:

Live event ticketing technology and analytics firm Logitix has named Jed Weitzman to the newly created position of head of music. Weitzman brings over 25 years of executive experience, specialising in talent management, technology, and ticketing. Most recently, he built the music division for Ticket Evolution and consulted for over 60 major tours. Weitzman will lead the music division for Logitix to optimise concert ticket sales through real-time data, dynamic pricing, and distribution.

SWEDEN:

Premium livestreaming platform Staccs has announced its first local artist collaboration with singer-songwriter, Lars Winnerbäck. Fans will be offered exclusive access to Winnerbäck’s performance at Södra Teatern in Stockholm, filmed last August. “Following the success of our first collaboration with Nightwish, we are excited to continue to bridge the relationships between fans and artists,” says Staccs co-founder and COO Jonas Sellberg.

UNITED KINGDOM:

The Music Venue Trust (MVT) has announced a new campaign to encourage music fans to enjoy live music in safe environments by supporting their local grassroots music venues. The #golocal campaign puts the emphasis on enjoying live music in a safe environment by urging music fans to visit local grassroots music venues, avoiding mass transport and large crowds of people. “We see this difficult and uncertain period as an opportunity to put the focus firmly back on local music venues and to encourage people to investigate the many amazing opportunities to safely experience live music within their own communities,” says MVT CEO Mark Davyd.

 

 


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Anti-terror legislation for UK venues moves closer

UK venues would have a legal duty to protect the public from terrorist attacks under new legislation being considered by the government following the Manchester Arena bombing.

The government has today (10 January) published a summary of responses to the Protect Duty public consultation.

Protect Duty, which would standardise more stringent, airport-style security checks at major entertainment and sporting venues, has been championed by victims’ groups, including the Martyn’s Law campaign established by Figen Murray following the loss of her son in the May 2017 attack in Manchester, which killed 22 people at an Ariana Grande concert.

“Following the tragic attack at the Manchester Arena, we have worked closely with Figen Murray, victims’ groups and partners to develop proposals to improve protective security around the country,” says home secretary Priti Patel. “I am grateful for their tireless commitment to the duty and those who responded to the consultation; the majority of whom agreed tougher measures are needed to protect the public from harm.

“We will never allow terrorists to restrict our freedoms and way of life, which is why we are committed to bringing forward legislation this year, that will strike the right balance between public safety, whilst not placing excessive burden on small businesses.”

A total of 2,755 responses were received from organisations, sectors and campaigners during the consultation period, which ran from 26 February to 2 July 2021. The majority supported plans to introduce stronger measures – including a legal requirement for some public places to ensure preparedness for, and protection from, terrorist attacks.

Taking measures to ensure that there is an appropriate and consistent approach to protective security and preparedness at public places is a reasonable ask

In the ministerial foreword to the government response document, security and borders minister Damian Hinds MP reasserts his commitment to advancing the legislation.

“Terrorist attacks can potentially occur anywhere, in large or small venues, at a range of locations,” he says. “It is vital that the government continues to consider how and where improvements can be made to combat the threat of terrorism and further enhance public security.

“The Protect Duty would be one means by which we seek to further enhance public security, sitting alongside our existing and ongoing work programmes to achieve this aim. I have noted the strength of views expressed in response to several consultation questions, that it is right that those responsible for public places should take measures to protect the public and to prepare their staff to respond appropriately. In short, taking measures to ensure that there is an appropriate and consistent approach to protective security and preparedness at public places is a reasonable ask.”

He concludes: “I recently met Figen Murray… and other representatives of the Survivors Against Terror Campaign Team, who have campaigned for ‘Martyn’s Law’, to ensure a specific legislative requirement be developed.

“I have also engaged with the Counter Terrorism Advisory Network, a national stakeholder forum, whose membership includes survivors of terrorism. Listening to and reflecting on the experience of survivors has reaffirmed my commitment to take forward Protect Duty legislation.”

The government is now set to process its response to the consultation and progress the legislation, with further announcements due from the Home Office over the coming months.

Last June, the Manchester Arena Inquiry, led by chairman Sir John Saunders, published the first of three reports about the terror attack.

 


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Vaccine passports to be introduced in England

Vaccine passports and facemasks will be required in order to attend concerts in England as part of tougher restrictions unveiled by the government in response to the Omicron variant.

Speaking at a hastily arranged press conference in Downing Street, prime minister Boris Johnson said the rapid increase in infections meant it was necessary to implement its “Plan B” measures to combat the spread of the virus.

The new rules, he said, would “help to keep these events and venues open at full capacity, while giving everyone who attends them confidence that those around them have done the responsible thing to minimise risk to others”.

From next Wednesday (15 December), the wearing of face masks will be mandated in all venues where crowds gather, and Covid certificates will be needed for:

* Venues where large crowds gather, including nightclubs

* Unseated indoor venues with more than 500 people

* Unseated outdoor venues with more than 4,000 people

The introduction of a negative LFT in the certification scheme follows extended lobbying by the sector to include the measure in any new restrictions. Earlier this week the Scottish government also added LFTs to their own rules.

Johnson added that, “The NHS Covid Pass can still be obtained with two doses but we will keep this under review as the boosters roll out.”

The introduction of Plan B results in an unfair double standard

Reacting to the announcement, a spokesperson for music trade body LIVE said: “The introduction of Plan B results in an unfair double standard that allows people to go on all-day pub crawls in crowded bars without having to prove their Covid-19 status, whilst live music venues get hit with certification.

“Across the country, music venues and events already have tried, tested and workable systems in place to ensure that live events continue to be safe – and these remain effective. However, after such a prolonged closure throughout the pandemic it is important the industry is able to remain open and that the government have listened to the industry and included the use of lateral flow testing in covid certification.”

The botched rollout of Scotland’s vaccine passport app earlier this autumn cost venues £250,000 a week, according to the Music Venue Trust.

The Scottish Music Venues Alliance reported a 39% dip in business per week, amounting to £249,471.23, since vaccine certification became mandatory for large events and nightclubs on 1 October, while a vast majority of people experienced repeated problems in registering and uploading their personal vaccine status to the app.

Vaccine passports have a damaging impact on night-time economy businesses

Mark Davyd, CEO Music Venue Trust, says: “Whilst this is obviously a blow to the progress in the battle against the virus, we are pleased that the government has listened to the grassroots music venue sector and adopted a Covid Pass policy that recognises testing and applies to larger gatherings – those venues operating at above 500 capacity.

“MVT’s #TakeaTest policy has been extremely successful in limiting infection incidents in grassroots music venues, and we welcome the announcement that this has been recognised in the new policy. Regardless of the size of the event you are attending, we continue to urge music lovers to #TakeaTest”.

Michael Kill, CEO of the Night-time Industries Association (NTIA), adds: “Vaccine passports have a damaging impact on night-time economy businesses, as we seen in other parts of the UK where they have been implemented. Trade is down 30% in Scotland and 26% in Wales following their implementation.

“The UK government have twice ruled out vaccine passports before twice changing their mind. The mixed public health messages this week that have been coming out of the government have arrived at the worst possible time – the pre-Christmas period is absolutely crucial for our sector. And now it is announced damaging vaccine passports are to be implemented.”

Check out the latest information on certification schemes, social distancing requirements, mask mandates, capacity restrictions and lockdowns affecting key European markets here.

 


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Wembley’s John Drury talks restaffing and no-shows

The SSE Arena, Wembley’s VP and general manager John Drury has spoken to IQ about the challenges of restaffing the venues sector as it emerges from the Covid-19 shutdown.

With a number of seasoned backstage hands defecting to other industries during the pandemic to make ends-meet, the business is battling a short-term talent shortage.

Drury, who predicts the Covid-induced upheaval to the global touring calendar could last until at least 2024, suggests the issue is far from straightforward.

“On security, in particular, a lot of SIA licences haven’t been renewed, and some of that will be no doubt people just picking up different work elsewhere and moving out of the industry,” he says. “Some will be people moving back to a home country, there’s probably a bit of Brexit in there as well, so that’s made it a challenge.

We’re still seeing more of a drop-off in numbers than normal

“We’re not really seeing it so much on the F&B side, but we’re certainly seeing it on front of house, stewarding and security, where it’s harder. We’ve not got to the point where we haven’t been able to service a show, obviously, and I don’t think we will get to that point. But it’s a challenge.

“We had a show last weekend where it ended up that we needed to bring the riggers in a couple of days earlier because that’s when they could get them and not on the show day. It meant the rigging for this one event came in ahead of the show the following day, but it was all done very amicably and everybody worked together to get it achieved. But we’ll see those challenges for a little while, no doubt.”

As previously revealed by IQ, promoters have reported the rate of no-shows by ticket-holders at concerts has been far higher than usual since the restart. Drury describes Wembley’s no-show rate as “up and down”.

“The standard tends to be around about 10%,” he says. “We were only seeing 5% on comedy, which was really encouraging, but at other events we were seeing as much as 20%, or more.

“We were finding it depended partly on shows that had been rescheduled once or twice. So some people might have just forgotten they were on, even though we’d been emailing and sending them reminders, and there is a bit of uncertainty out there, for sure. We’re still seeing more of a drop off in numbers than we normally would.”

Because we’d had some activity, it allowed us to get back into the swing of things more quickly

The 12,500-capacity London venue, which is due to round off 2021 with dates by acts including Manic Street Preachers, James + Happy Mondays, The Human League, Nightwish, Il Divo and Madness, stayed busier than most, if not all, UK arenas during 2020/21 “partly because of our size and partly because of location,” according to Drury.

“We ended up doing some filming for the BBC series The Wall through summer last year, and then we did some behind closed doors boxing for another six weeks with Matchroom,” he says.

“That led to us hosting the Anthony Joshua fight in December, [2020] for a crowd of 1,000 people. It was in that very short, small window where you could post some events for a very limited number. You couldn’t normally make that work for arena but, because of the pay-per-view, it worked.

“It was strangely like opening a new venue and was an interesting taste of what we were going to have to go through.”

The arena also hosted a Culture Club livestream and was used for filming a Tesco Mobile advert, along with the Strictly Come Dancing and Masked Dancer British TV series, and was utilised for UEFA’s Euro 2020 international football tournament over the summer.

“It was good to have that activity in the building, not because it made money – it covered its costs to a certain extent – but what it did was help us give work to our regular full-timers,” notes Drury. “It allowed us to bring in some contractors and give some of the supply chain some work that they very badly needed. So it was a real motivation for us to do something in the building – to be able to give some work to people that desperately needed it.

“We opened up with boxing on 24 July, which was our first proper event with no social distancing. And then the first proper gig, was McFly in the middle of September. And because we’d had some activity, it allowed us to get back into the swing of things a little bit more quickly. It’s been really good to be back doing shows, and let’s hope we can carry on.”

 


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ASM Global hires Chris Bray as EVP, Europe

ASM Global has named 30-year veteran Chris Bray as its new EVP of European operations.

Bray who will be based in Manchester, UK, has a background in commercial, operations, entertainment and strategic development within the high-street retail, leisure and hospitality industries.

For the past six years, Bray has served as CEO for sports and leisure, UK & Ireland at global contract catering and facilities management company Sodexo.

“Chris has been responsible for a business portfolio tasked with delivering exceptional experiences at some of the most prestigious sporting and event locations across the UK such as Ascot Racecourse, Chelsea Flower Show, Brighton and Hove Albion FC, Newcastle United FC, as well as the National Gallery and other iconic day visitor experiences across the country,” says ASM Global president and CEO Ron Bension.

It’s an exciting time to be joining ASM Global as it accelerates its growth ambitions across the globe

“We’re confident that he will execute tremendous value creation, organic growth and new business initiatives.”

The move forms part of the venue management giant’s ongoing European expansion plans.

“It’s an exciting time to be joining ASM Global as it accelerates its growth ambitions across the globe,” says Bray. “Recent wins in Europe including Newcastle Gateshead Quays, Derby Arena, Cantu Arena and Södra Teatern are testament to the exceptional capabilities of our European teams and the confidence that our clients have in our ability to deliver innovative services and world-class live experiences for their guests.

“I am really looking forward to working with the teams to build upon the great work they have done.”

Bray succeeds John Sharkey, whose departure was announced in May. Sharkey joined ASM predecessor SMG in 2014 and was appointed ASM Global’s EVP for Europe in late 2019, following the completion of the merger between SMG and AEG Facilities.

The move comes days after the firm confirmed Jason Oberlander as chief commercial officer and made two new hires to its programming department.

Within Europe, ASM Global’s flagship venues include AO Arena in Manchester, Avicii Arena, Tele2 Arena and Friends Arena in Sweden and Koenig Pilsner Arena in Germany, which will become Rudolf Weber Arena in January 2022.

 


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Las Vegas’ Resorts World Theatre set for opening

Resorts World Las Vegas and Concerts West/AEG Presents have unveiled new joint-venture, the Resorts World Theatre.

Designed by Scéno Plus, the multi-level, 5,000-capacity live performance venue is programmed and operated by AEG Presents/Concerts West, and will debut tonight (1 December) with the launch of Carrie Underwood’s production Reflection: The Las Vegas Residency.

Other upcoming acts will include Katy Perry, Celine Dion and Luke Bryan.

We are excited to introduce our guests to an extraordinary venue

“In collaboration with AEG, we are excited to introduce our guests to an extraordinary venue integrating world-class talent, innovative design by our partners at Scéno Plus, and cutting-edge technology,” says Scott Sibella, president of Resorts World Las Vegas. “The Resorts World Theatre celebrates our customers by delivering on our brand promise of exceeding industry standards through luxury and high-tech multi-sensory experiences.”

The seventh performance venue in as Vegas designed by Scéno Plus, the Resorts World Theatre features the city’s largest and tallest stage to date, covering an area of 13,550sq ft, with the furthest seat only 150ft from the stage.

It also features fully configurable high-definition LED screens and an immersive audio experience through more than 200 L-Acoustics speakers, powered by L-ISA Hyperreal Sound technology.

“We are appreciative of our long-standing and trusted partnership with AEG, and for the collaboration with the Resorts World Las Vegas team to design a unique space, where unrivalled entertainers such as Celine Dion, Carrie Underwood, Katy Perry and Luke Bryan, can deliver memorable performances in the unparalleled comfort of the Resorts World Theatre,” adds Olivier Berthiaume-Bergé, president and CEO of Scéno Plus.

 


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Campaign to save Night & Day Cafe ramps up

The Music Venue Trust (MVT) has revealed noise complaints have been made against more than 40 venues since lockdown lifted in July, as a campaign to protect Manchester’s Night & Day Cafe reaches 50,000 signatures.

The 220-cap venue, which celebrates its 30th birthday this Saturday, was served with a noise abatement notice on 18 November by Manchester City Council (MCC) licensing after being reported by a nearby resident.

A petition launched in support of Night & Day says the council is now threatening to close the venue, alleging it is a “noise nuisance”.

“We have met the resident a number of times to explain what we do and that nothing has changed operationally to how we operated pre-lockdown and the 28 years prior to that,” says the petition. “We ask for Manchester City Council licensing to remove our noise abatement notice and for the council to address the real issue here which is that housing with ill-considered planning and construction has been approved and built next to a pre-existing live music business.

“Over the past 15 years, flats have been built or existing buildings converted to flats around us with no real thought or consideration to the pre-existing business, building and what it does.

“We also ask not to be labelled us as a ‘nuisance’. We believe we are a real cultural asset to the city of Manchester, the North West and indirectly to the UK as a whole.”

It’s time the complaints process was changed

MVT CEO Mark Davyd told NME there had been over 40 noise complaints against UK grassroots music venues since the sector reopened en masse in July.

“With the exception of one case, all relate to complaints that the venue had resumed its normal operation; no new hours, no change of music, no increase in volume,” said Davyd.

“This is one of a raft of absurd new complaints lodged by people who apparently think it’s OK to move near to venues during a pandemic and complain when they reopen. Every noise complaint costs the venue money to defend and defeat.

“It’s time the complaints process was changed so that obviously ludicrous complaints such as this, against a venue celebrating 30 years of business, can be immediately dismissed or the venue financially recompensed for being forced to prove that the cause of the ‘nuisance’ is the new resident’s decision to move next to it.”

Sacha Lord, night-time economy advisor for Greater Manchester and co-founder of Manchester’s Parklife festival and The Warehouse Project, said he would do everything within the powers to save the Night & Day, which previously won a similar battle in 2014.

“If you choose to live next to a live music venue, don’t then complain about noise,” Lord said on Twitter. “Night & Day Cafe is a true iconic gem. I am in touch with them and will do everything I can to work with all parties, to save this venue.”

 


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Ben Lovett talks Venue Group’s US ambitions

Mumford & Sons’ Ben Lovett has told IQ about his first move into the US market with the opening of two new venues in Huntsville, Alabama.

Lovett is CEO of Venue Group, which operates London’s Omeara (320-cap), Lafayette (600-cap) and The Social (250-cap). Last year, he announced plans to expand his independent empire with the 8,000-cap Orion Amphitheater in Huntsville, Alabama, scheduled to open in May 2022.

“It probably seems quite an exotic shift from London at first glance, but there was a whole sequence of events that led me to Huntsville,” explains Lovett. “It actually started with the London mayor’s office, funnily enough, and Shain Shapiro from [music market development consultancy] Sound Diplomacy, who did the whole audit about the night-time economy and why we need to keep culture in the centre of our cities, so they don’t end up becoming just a big bunch of flats and offices.

“We met at the launch of Omeara five years ago, then [Shapiro] did a similar study for the city of Huntsville, which is now the biggest city in Alabama. They have lots of great jobs and lots of people live there, but there’s nothing to do, and the conclusion was that they wanted to build a big outdoor amphitheatre.

“They put a request for people to come in to present their vision – it was like an episode of X Factor. And we were like, ‘If you’re going to do this, you’ve got to build something remarkable.’ And they liked the sound of that, so they gave us the contracts and we’ve spent the last three years designing this thing.”

Details of its 13-15 May opening weekend celebration, The First Waltz, were confirmed earlier this week. Acts will include Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, Emmylou Harris, John Paul White, St Paul and the Broken Bones, and Brittany Howard of Alabama Shakes.

The idea is to build one of the best new venues in the world

The scheme is being managed by Huntsville Venue Group, a partnership between Lovett and industry veterans Ryan Murphy, Mike Luba, Don Sullivan, Jeff Kicklighter and Al Santos.

“The idea is to build one of the best new venues in the world,” declares Lovett, who reveals plans are afoot to complement the project with another ‘Omeara-sized’ venue in the city.

“One of the things that we learned was that you need to build a whole ecosystem,” he says. “There’s no point having just one big venue so bands from out of town come and play a handful of times, you’ve got to nurture local grassroots talent.”

The New York-based Brit suggests there is still much more to come on that front.

“We are going to try and figure out another venue in London before too long, and we’re having some interesting conversations with other cities in America,” he adds. “I’ve spent so much of my adult life touring America and I’m such a big fan of this country; I want to try and see where else we can build great venues here.”

Venue Group has offices in London, New York, Huntsville, Alabama and Austin. And the 35-year-old musician and Communion co-founder, who invested in D2F startup Planet over the summer, suggests the fallout from the cessation of touring during the pandemic has only strengthened his resolve.

“That hasn’t slowed us down,” he insists. “If anything, it’s actually made us more bullish – the reason being that we saw every man and his dog try and figure out a way to bring shows into people’s living rooms, and it just didn’t work. So if 18 months can’t break down the bond of the live music experience between fans and artists, then you better believe I’m going to go all in on this thing.”

Check out iq-mag.net next week for part two of our interview with Lovett.

 


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House of Vans unveils new Mexico City venue

House of Vans is expanding its live interests by opening a new venue in Mexico’s capital.

Located in Col. San Juan, House of Vans Mexico City is billed as “part skatepark, part music venue, part theatre, part art gallery”,  and opens with a gig by Japanese Breakfast on 9 December.

The project adds to the brand’s existing UK and US hubs in London and Chicago.

It’s a space where the ‘Off The Wall’ spirit lives

“It is an honour for Vans to permanently open House of Vans Mexico City,” says Iñigo Perezcano, Vans senior marketing manager.

“It’s a space where the ‘Off The Wall’ spirit lives, which will enable action sports, music, art, and street culture communities to embrace and develop their expressive creativity to keep making history within Mexico City’s rich creative landscape.”

Other shows announced for its opening week include Mexico City-based Molotov on 10 December and UK synthpop band Hot Chip on December 11.

 


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Harry Styles show to launch OVG’s New York arena

Harry Styles has been confirmed as the first music artist to perform at Oak View Group’s new UBS Arena at Belmont Park, New York.

Styles’ show at the 19,000-cap venue, which will be the finale of the his 2021 Love On Tour, will take place on Sunday, 28 November. The concert will spearhead the building’s opening month celebrations, with numerous other events planned throughout November.

Home to the National Hockey League’s New York Islanders, the US$1.1 billion multi-purpose arena will host more than 150 major events annually, with other acts lined up to appear over the coming months including Eric Church, Genesis, Imagine Dragons, Tool, Journey, John Mayer and New Kids on the Block.

UBS Arena intends on being carbon neutral for operations before 2024, which will make it the first arena to do so on the eastern US seaboard.

UBS Arena is poised to become a global landmark entertainment and sports destination

The redevelopment project, which Oak View Group (OVG) is working on in collaboration with the New York Islanders and Sterling Project Development, is expected to create 10,000 construction jobs and 3,000 permanent jobs, generating approximately $25bn in economic activity over the term of the lease.

“UBS Arena is poised to become a global landmark entertainment and sports destination, leading us to partner with one of the world’s premier brands, UBS,” Tim Leiweke, CEO of OVG and leader of the arena project, said earlier this year.

UBS Arena will celebrate its opening with a ribbon cutting ceremony on 19 November, ahead of its official opening with the New York Islanders’ home opener against the Calgary Flames the following day.

Ground was broken on the project on in September 2019 and halted in March 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. Work started back up two months later on 27 May.

Styles has made an investment in OVG’s Co-op Live development in his hometown of Manchester, UK. The development will become the UK’s first all-electric arena when it opens in 2023.

 


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