Boom times for UK/Ireland arenas, says NAA

The UK and Ireland’s biggest indoor venues generated £491.7 million in box office receipts last year – up 42 pc on 2008. The historic numbers were driven by a larger number of events, higher attendances at those events and a 12 pc leap in average ticket prices
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The UK and Ireland’s biggest indoor venues generated £491.7 million in box office receipts last year – up 42% on 2008, writes Music Week’s Gordon Masson. The historic numbers were driven by a larger number of events, higher attendances at those events and a 12% leap in average ticket prices, according to figures published by the National Arenas Association (NAA). In its latest annual report, the NAA reveals that the number of events hosted by arenas during 2009 totalled 2,333 – an increase of 18% on 2008’s 1,978 performances. Those events were attended by more than 13.6 million people – up 30% on 2008’s total audience of 10.4 million. That in itself provided the nation’s arenas with record breaking business, but the fact that promoters pushed up the price of tickets last year resulted in the massive revenue growth. On average ticket prices rose to £36.12 in 2009, compared to £32.24 the year before. However, they remained marginally lower than the all-time high £36.86 average price in 2007. Analysing prices by genre, the NAA reports that the biggest ticket hike was levied on Pop concerts, where the average cost of a ticket in 2009 was £52.37, compared to £42.24 a year before. The price of a Rock concert ticket was up to £41.46 from £35.69 in 2008, while MOR performances had an average ticket price of £49.94 compared to £45.30 the year before. Average prices for events in the classical and ethnic music genres dipped, as did prices for comedy and sports events. But the fact that 61% of arena performances involved live music helped promoters earn much greater returns from tours and shows, while a 49% leap in the volume of audiences going to comedy shows in arenas also boosted those top line numbers. “In addition to all the NAA member venues reporting their figures, non-members the Manchester Evening News Arena [pictured] and Metro Radio Arena in Newcastle also provide their data, so this gives us a very accurate overview of the health of the arenas business,” says NAA chairman Phil Mead. Mead contends that the money venues are investing to improve facilities are helping make them more attractive to audiences and performers alike. As the managing director of arenas for NEC Group, Mead last year oversaw the £29 million refurbishment of the LG Arena. He adds: “There’s been a great deal of investment by NAA members in recent years – The O2 arena, The O2 Dublin, The Echo Arena in Liverpool, the LG Arena, the new arena that’s being built in Glasgow – and that’s definitely helping to improve the customer experience, which in turn leads to people visiting arenas more often.” The most popular live music tour during 2009 was Pink’s Funhouse outing, which attracted a total audience of 428,150 attendees at NAA member venues, which now number 17 with the indoor venue at Coventry’s Ricoh Arena joining Aberdeen’s Press & Journal Arena, the SECC in Glasgow, Belfast’s Odyssey Arena, The O2 Dublin, Liverpool Echo Arena, Sheffield Arena, Trent FM Arena Nottingham, Birmingham’s NIA and LG Arenas, London’s Royal Albert Hall, The O2, Wembley Arena, Earls Court & Olympia, Cardiff International Arena, The Brighton Centre and Bournemouth International Centre. Other major venues such as the Metro Radio Arena in Newcastle and Manchester Evening News Arena are not NAA members. However, both of those venues contribute to the NAA’s annual report, meaning that the research accurately reflects the health of the country’s arenas circuit.



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