EAA Bends Rules For London O2

London Wembley Arena general manager John Drury was quick to welcome the city’s O2 Arena to the European Arenas’ Association, which waived its rule about allowing only two members from each country.

“With our previous successful year, we have shown that London is a big enough market to sustain two big arenas, therefore Wembley Arena is pleased to welcome London’s The O2 to the EAA,” he said, as a third English venue was allowed to join the European network. Birmingham’s LG Arena is also a member.

Also joining the EAA is Zurich Hallenstadion, which brings the Swiss contingent up to two. Basel St. Jacobshalle is also a member.

At its twice-yearly meeting at Lisbon Atlántico Pavilion Oct. 1, the consensus of among the EAA’s leading lights was that the old “two per country” rule was preventing the continent’s best new arenas from joining.

“We recognise that the organisation should be open to the most prestigious and successful venues in Europe, to truly represent the best in Europe,” said EAA president and Paris Bercy general director Philippe Ventadour.

“It is important for London’s The O2 to be part of the EAA, with its many benefits such as benchmarking, but also to speak with one voice in Europe,” said O2 business operations director Steve Brice. “We are proud to add our support and be part of the organisation.”

To incorporate more new venues in major cities, the rules have now been modified to allow more than two venues from each member country to be part of the EAA, even permitting sometimes competing venues from the same city, such as Wembley and The O2.

EAA managing director Linda Bull explained how the EAA initially met as a group of friends from a small number of cities across Europe with similar issues and challenges.

“As Europe changed and the demands on our arenas grew, more venues expressed an interest to join our club,” she said. “We now present a united group of the very best arenas in Europe, valued by the live entertainment industry and an important focus for promoters looking to tour across Europe.

“As an experienced and prominent group of venues, the EAA can speak with one voice, whether we are lobbying on vital areas such as security and ticketing.”

Hallenstadion GM Felix Frei was also pleased that, given the size of the country, the EAA was happy to welcome a second Swiss venue.

“We very much wanted to be part of the EAA as it is a good platform for venues across Europe,” he said. “We very much value the ability to compare and discuss issues facing all our venues. The Hallenstadion is a very important venue in Switzerland, but it is a big competitive market and we see the EAA as a way of optimising the market.”

St. Jakobshalle managing director Thomas Kastl said it’s in the EAA’s interests for major venues to be members and was more than happy to welcome the Hallenstadion.

“It can only help towards a stronger competitive industry,” he said.

The EAA membership is now 29 venues spread across 21 European countries.