AMG Likes To Be Beside The Seaside

Major U.K. venue operator Academy Music Group has added Bournemouth’s Opera House to its portfolio, the second south coast building it’s taken over in the last three years.

The London-based venue chain has agreed to a new lease with Arnewood Estates Limited, which owns the freehold of the Grade II listed building, along with catering establishments including the local Chine Hotel. AMG has Live Nation, Irish entrepreneur Denis Desmond and major promoters Metropolis Music and SJM Concerts among its shareholders.

In January 2007, AMG expanded as far as the south coast by acquiring Brighton Hippodrome, which now operates as the O2 Academy Brighton. The new Bournemouth venue will likely be renamed the O2 Academy within a couple of months.

In January AMG began a long-term partnership with U.K. telecom O2, which included O2 getting the naming rights for AMG venues and access to priority tickets for O2 customers. Carling was previously a sponsoring partner with AMG.

AMG, which operates flagship London venues including London’s Brixton Academy and Shepherds Bush Empire, now has a provincial chain of rooms that also covers Glasgow, Newcastle, Liverpool, Sheffield, Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds and Oxford.
AMG recently announced it had purchased a major share in ABC Glasgow, and that a new Birmingham venue – previously The Dome – will open in the fall.

“The venue is beautiful. It’s in great condition and we’re looking forward to making some minor operational improvements,” said AMG chief exec John Northcote. “But primarily we’re bringing the same vibrant diary of live acts and club events that people expect from AMG venues, filling a significant gap in the market.”

The main room has a magnificent interior with period features, including the proscenium arch, art-deco styling and ornate steel work. AMG expects it will host about 150 events per year.

The actual building, which has a 1,925 capacity, has been in operation for more than a century. It’s previously been used as a circus, theatre, dance hall, ballroom and nightclub. In 2007, it underwent a multimillion-pound refurbishment.

It originally opened as The Grand Pavilion Theatre in 1895. It was first used as a circus, and in 1899 became The Boscombe Grand Theatre for its music hall days and The Boscombe Hippodrome several years later.

In more recent times it was converted to a dance hall, ballroom and then a disco that survived through the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s.