|Former names||Pavilhão da Utopia (1998)
Pavilhão Atlântico (1998-2013)
|Owner||Ritmos e Blues|
|Operator||Ritmos e Blues|
|Construction cost||€ 55 million|
|Architect||Regino Cruz (Skidmore, Owings & Merril)|
MEO Arena (formerly Pavilhão Atlântico) is a multi-purpose indoor arena in Lisbon, Portugal. The Arena is among the largest indoor arenas in the European Union and the largest in Portugal with a capacity of 20,000 people and was built in 1998 for Expo '98. It is named after its main sponsor, MEO.
Plans to build a multipurpose arena in Lisbon date back to the first discussions of the Expo '98 Master Plan. At the time, the city lacked a versatile facility able to accommodate concerts, congresses and sporting events of big scope. The existing structures, both in Lisbon and in Portugal alike, either had limited capacity (up to 4,000 people), or were difficult to adapt to non-conventional events, such as world class indoor sports competitions. Another shortcoming of existing venues was the lack of technical infrastructure deemed necessary to host modern concerts, musicals and to allow for proper live TV coverage.
The country needed an arena to fill the existing gap between smaller indoor halls, like the Lisbon Coliseum, and open-air stadiums. As a consequence, Portugal would not host games of important indoor sports championships and no major concerts would take place in the country in periods of cold and rainy weather.
The decision to build the Pavilhão Atlântico within the masterplan of Expo 98 allowed the arena to have a catchment area well beyond the city of Lisbon. Being a short distance from Gare do Oriente and several major highway interchanges, allows the arena to draw spectators from all over the country.
The building was designed by Portuguese architect Regino Cruz, who is the author of several government and office buildings in Brazil and in Portugal, in association with Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM). SOM has been awarded first prize in the contests for the Olympic stadiums of Manchester and Berlin, and is responsible for designing many big sporting pavilions in the U.S.A. (Portland, Philadelphia, Oakland or Minneapolis). The studio is also a co-designer of the Vasco Da Gama Tower, located at the northern end of the Parque das Nações in Lisbon. The shape of Pavilhão do Atlântico is reminiscent of a large flying-saucer or horseshoe crab. Such a unique shape demanded out-of-the box thinking for its underpinnings, both for structural and symbolic reasons. The roof, for example, sits atop a wood grid, designed in the shape of a carrack. Being part of a world expo celebrating the world's oceans and 15th-century Portuguese discoveries, wood was considered more fitting than either concrete or steel.
The main goals of the design were: 1) Minimize the visual impact generated from such a big structure; 2) rational energy use; and 3) simplify the flow of spectators in and out of the building.
The main façade is oriented towards the south, which increases sun exposure during the colder winter months, at the same time preventing direct sunlight in the summer months. This exposure allows the reduction of heating and air conditioning costs, while at the same time natural ventilation outlets on top of the building provide air circulation and cooling. By placing the main floor 6.4 metres below ground level the architects allowed for a generously high roof, while at the same time reducing the external footprint and minimizing heat exchange (as a result of the smaller surface area exposed to the weather). The external glass façade is shaded by overhanging panels, designed to allow sunlight only during winter months. A system of external moving blinds further allows natural lighting to enter the pavilion.
Accessibility is also straightforward by means of a short stadium-seating-like external staircase that surrounds the entire building.
During EXPO'98, the building was called the Pavilion of Utopia and housed the spectacle "Oceans and Utopias".
The EXPO'98 theme was "Knowledge of the Seas or of the Future", and while other expositions approached the "ocean" themes from artistic, scientific or historical perspective, at the Utopian Pavillion, the designers took a symbolic, dreamlike, and/or magical approach to the exhibits. As such, during the 132 days of the exposition, the Pavilion was an open space to showcase works of imagination, reflecting the fears, myths and legends that throughout history, have been associated with the World's oceans. Visitors were awarded with sights of Daedalus, Greek Gods, mythical heroes such as Hercules, as well as colorful displays portraying the birth of mankind and gods, the Big Bang, the Deluge, Atlantis, the Age of Discovery and space travel, just to name a few. Written by François I. Confine and Philippe Genty, and produced by Rozon, the show (which was presented four times a day) mixed classic theatrical elements and modern multimedia technology.
One of the most remarkable events to ever take place there were the MTV Europe Music Awards in 2005.
In addition, World Wrestling Entertainment has presented five house shows there, on December 4 & 5, 2006 and June 8 & 9, 2007. The December 4 event was the first WWE event in 13 years to take place in Portugal. All the shows were sold out. To be noted that the December 2006 events featured the SmackDown! brand and the June 2007 featured the RAW brand. The RAW brand returned to the arena on April 19, 2008. On September 24, 2008, the SmackDown/ECW Live Tour was held at the arena.
Pop singer Britney Spears brought her Femme Fatale Tour to the venue on November 9, 2011. One month later, on December 17, Rihanna performed at the venue during her Loud Tour. Rihanna then came back to Portugal in 2013 with her Diamonds World Tour, on May 28.
- Britney Spears, Justin Bieber, One Direction, Thirty Seconds to Mars, Bruno Mars, 50 Cent, ABC, Bryan Adams, Anastacia, Rick Astley, Charles Aznavour, B52s, Backstreet Boys, Beyoncé, Biffy Clyro, The Black Eyed Peas, The Black Keys, The Blackout, Andrea Bocelli, Sarah Brightman, Busta Rhymes, Carbon/Silicon, Belinda Carlisle, Eric Clapton, Joe Cocker, Leonard Cohen, Coldplay, The Corrs, Megadeth, Slayer, Deep Purple, Joaquín Cortés, The Cure, Curiosity Killed the Cat, Dave Matthews Band, Depeche Mode, Plácido Domingo, The Doors, Bob Dylan, The Eagles, Foreigner, Green Day, Guns N' Roses, Ben Harper, Enrique Iglesias, Julio Iglesias, Il Divo, Incubus, Iron Maiden, Elton John, Jack Johnson, Jennifer Lopez, Juanes, Judas Priest, Nik Kershaw, Alicia Keys, Korn, Lenny Kravitz, Blink-182, Lemar, Limp Bizkit, Linkin Park, Madness, Madonna, Marillion, Marilyn Manson, Ricky Martin, Meat Loaf, Megadeth, Metallica, George Michael, Kylie Minogue, Moby, Muse, Oasis, The Offspring, Pearl Jam, P!nk, Prima Donna, The Prodigy, Pussycat Dolls, Eros Ramazzotti, Rammstein, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Rihanna, Santana, Scorpions, Shakira, Sigur Rós, Badgalcaya, Simply Red, Slayer, Slipknot, The Stranglers, Supertramp, Lady Gaga, Testament, Tokio Hotel, The Tubes, Wako, Roger Waters, Westlife, Whitesnake, The Who, Kim Wilde, Robbie Williams and Yes
- Pedro Abrunhosa, Carlos do Carmo, Mickael Carreira, Tony Carreira, Clã, D'ZRT, Da Weasel, GNR, Mariza, Rui Veloso and Xutos e Pontapés
- Luan Santana, Gusttavo Lima, Roberto Carlos, Daniela Mercury, Maria Rita and Ivete Sangalo, Sandy & Junior, Caetano Veloso, Maria Gadú
The Atlantic Pavilion is member of the ATL – Associação de Turismo da Lisboa (English: Tourism Association of Lisbon) and active member of the Associação de Arenas Europeias (English: European Association of Arenas – EAA). Through these connections the management of the Pavilhão Atlântico has establish close relationships with the main auditoriums and arenas in Europe and benefited from their synergies of scale.
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