Wembley Arena

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Not to be confused with Wembley Stadium.
The SSE Arena, Wembley
Wembley Arena logo.png
Former names Empire Pool (1934–78)
Wembley Arena (1978–2014)
Location Wembley, London, England
Coordinates 51°33′29.10″N 0°16′58.70″W / 51.5580833°N 0.2829722°W / 51.5580833; -0.2829722Coordinates: 51°33′29.10″N 0°16′58.70″W / 51.5580833°N 0.2829722°W / 51.5580833; -0.2829722
Owner Quintain plc
Operator AEG Facilities
Capacity 12,500
Construction
Opened 1934
Renovated 2005–06
Tenants
LiveNation
2012 Summer Olympics
Website
ssearena.co.uk
Wembley Arena frontage

Wembley Arena /ˈwɛmbli/ (originally the Empire Pool and known through sponsorship as The SSE Arena, Wembley) is an indoor arena in Wembley, London, England. It is located next to Wembley Stadium.

History[edit]

It was built for the 1934 British Empire Games, by Arthur Elvin, and originally housed a swimming pool, as reflected by its former name, Empire Pool. The pool itself was last used for the 1948 Summer Olympics. The building is used for music, comedy and family entertainment and for sport.

The venue was renovated, along with Wembley Stadium, as part of the early-21st-century regeneration of the Wembley area. The arena refurbishment cost £35m and the new arena opened to the public on 2 April 2006, with a concert by the English electronic-music band Depeche Mode.

With 12,500 seats, it is London's second-largest indoor arena after The O2 Arena and third-largest indoor concert venue after the O2 and Earls Court Exhibition Centre, an exhibition hall which regularly stages concerts.

In September 2013, it was announced that AEG Facilities had signed a 15 year contract to operate the arena.[1]

The arena in SSE colours

On 10 April 2014, it was announced that the arena would be renamed The SSE Arena on 1 June 2014 after SSE plc bought the naming rights to the venue for 10 years.[2]

Musical events[edit]

Since its opening in 1934, the venue has become the third-largest indoor concert venue and London's second-largest indoor arena, having hosted concerts by the world's most famous artists, spanning many different genres of music.[citation needed]

When the venue was known as the Empire Pool, it hosted the annual New Musical Express Poll Winners' concert during the mid-1960s. Audiences of 10,000 viewed acts like The Beatles (who performed there three times), T. Rex (whose Ringo Starr-directed documentary film Born to Boogie is centered on a 1972 concert at the Empire Pool), David Bowie, Cliff Richard & The Shadows, The Hollies, Dusty Springfield, Joe Brown & the Bruvvers, The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, Simply Red, Status Quo, The Who, Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich and many others, hosted by Jimmy Savile and Pete Murray.[citation needed] The individual performances were then finished by a famous personality joining the respective performer on stage and presenting them their award. The Beatles were presented one of their awards by actor Roger Moore and Richard was joined on stage by Roy Orbison, to present him his. He also received a letter of congratulations from Elvis Presley. It was 1963 when Richard won best male solo artist worldwide outstripping Elvis, Richard having sold more records that year than any other musical act worldwide. These were filmed and recorded and later broadcast on television.

The Grateful Dead have released recordings of complete shows from 7–8 April 1972 as part of Europe '72: The Complete Recordings.

A notable attendance record was set in the early 1970s by David Cassidy, in his first tour of Great Britain in 1973, when he sold out six performances in one weekend.[3]

In 1978, The Electric Light Orchestra sold out eight straight concerts (a record at the time) during their Out of the Blue Tour.[citation needed] The first of these shows was recorded, televised and later released as a CD/DVD.

ABBA played six sold-out concerts, from 5 to 10 November 1979. The shows were filmed by Swedish television for a documentary which was released in 2004 on DVD as "ABBA in Concert".[4] Afterward the members of the band talked about the warmth of the Wembley audience. "It was like coming home after a couple of nights," said guitarist Bjorn Ulvaeus.[5] A finale from these concerts, "The Way Old Friends Do", is the closing track on ABBA's seventh studio album, Super Trouper. Vocalist Agnetha Faltskog said it was the vibe from the audience that made the track work so much better as a live performance than as a studio track.[5]

Cliff Richard has sold the most shows out at the venue.[citation needed] He has headlined 63 shows at the venue with his first headliner being in 1984 and his latest being 2009. Richard holds the record for the most headline shows by one artist (Though Ice Skater Torvill & Dean hold the overall show record), having played his 61st concert in October 2009.[citation needed] Tina Turner is the female artist with the most shows, with 25 and with 5 at Wembley Stadium (three in 1996 and two in 2000).[6]

U2 first played Wembley Arena in for two consecutive nights in November 1984 on the UK leg of their Unforgettable Fire Tour. The songs Bad and A Sort of Homecoming from these shows were recorded and appeared on the Wide Awake in America EP. They returned to the arena in 1987 as part of the UK leg of The Joshua Tree Tour.

Dire Straits took up a 13 night residency at the Arena as part of their phenomenally successful Brothers in Arms tour, only breaking off to head down the road to Wembley Stadium for an afternoon slot at Live Aid, in July 1985.

Meat Loaf & His Neverland Express performed two consecutive shows during his 20/20 Tour, on 1–2 March 1987, which were recorded and later released as a live album, entitled Live at Wembley.

The Cure have played 11 times at the arena between 1985 and 2008, with the performances over 3 nights in July 1989 during the Prayer Tour being recorded, and several songs from those nights being released on a live album, entitled Entreat, while video footage from an appearance in January 1991 was released on the video 'Play Out'.

George Michael performed four consecutive shows during his Cover to Cover Tour on 19–20 and 22–23 March 1991. During the final show, on the 23rd – Elton John made a surprise guest appearance and together they sang, as a duet, "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me". This was recorded and released later that year, becoming a massive hit, with even greater success than the song's original release in 1974.

In April 1994, Barbra Streisand began her Barbra – The Concert Tour, with four performances at the arena. They marked her first performances in the UK after 28 years and were the only shows outside of the US. The opening song on the first night, "As If We Never Said Goodbye", was recorded and transmitted on BBC TV's Top of the Pops.

Diana Ross previewed her "Here and Now Tour" in November 1990 with two sold out dates. She returned in June 1991 for 4 more sold out nights of her "Here and Now World Tour". Diana had previously filmed her HBO "World Stage Tour" in 1989 and platinum live album, Greatest Hits Live from Wembley. Diana is the second most popular female solo artist, behind Tina Turner for the most sold out dates. Diana began appearing at Wembley in 1982 for her world tour.

Britney Spears performed during her Oops!... I Did It Again World Tour on 10–12 October 2000 and was broadcast on Sky1.

The Corrs performed at the Arena on 20-22 December 2000, the show on the 21st was broadcast live on Sky1 as a Christmas special, the show was watched by 500,000+ people and was the most watched TV program of the week on Sky1. The band performed Happy Xmas (War Is Over) during the set.

Christina Aguilera performed during her Stripped World Tour on 2-3 and 5 November 2003. The shows were filmed and later released as a DVD, entitled Stripped Live in the U.K.. She also returned to performed on the arena in 2006 for her Back to Basics World Tour.

Feeder stopped by at the venue during their December 2003 Comfort in Sound Arena Tour, which was a follow-up to their 23 date tour of the same album where they played theater sized venues. The show was recorded with microphones facing the stage and crowd with plans to release the show as a live album, but never has been released. The start of the show was also filmed, but the footage has to date not been used.

Beyoncé Knowles performed on two consecutive nights, during her Dangerously in Love Tour on 10–11 November 2003. Her show on the 10th was filmed and later released as a DVD, entitled Beyoncé: Live at Wembley.

Westlife performed two shows on 18 May and 19 May 2006. The shows were filmed and released on a DVD.

Girls Aloud performed during their Chemistry Tour in June 2006. The show from Wembley was later released on DVD.

Pink performed two shows during her I'm Not Dead Tour on 4 October and 4 December 2006. They were filmed and later released as a DVD, entitled Pink: Live from Wembley Arena.

Pearl Jam hold the attendance record for one show, with 12,470 fans at their 2007 gig.[7]

Bob Dylan has performed at the arena 12 times over his career selling more that 150,000 tickets.[8]

McFly have performed at the arena six times over their career, selling more than 70,000 tickets there. From which they have released two concert DVD's and have streamed one concert over the internet, seen by people from all over the world.[citation needed]

Madonna played eight sold-out nights here during her Confessions Tour in 2006, the 15 & 16 August were filmed for The Confessions Tour DVD.

In 2011, it played host to the live finals of the Sky1 reality music competition Must Be the Music.

Alter Bridge have performed on 29 November 2011 and released a DVD later.[9]

It was announced that the 2011 X Factor UK final would be the shot at the Wembley Arena over two days; girl band Little Mix won the competition on 11 December 2011. The X Factor UK will return to film their final at the Wembley Arena for the series' tenth series on 14 and 15 December 2013.

The Saturdays made their arena debut here on 16 December 2011, on their All Fired Up Live Tour, in front of a capacity of 11,478. They will perform at the arena for the second time on 19 September 2014, as part of their Greatest Hits Tour.

Frank Turner performed on 27 April 2012 to a sell-out audience. A DVD was to be released later in the year.

Muse used the arena to rehearse their The 2nd Law World Tour in 2012.

Iron Maiden played first in 1988 (Seventh Tour of a Seventh Tour x2), 1990 (No Prayer On The Road x2) and 1993 (A Real Live Tour x1). The 1990 shows were recorded for a triple live album but was never released. A few tracks from 17 December 1990 were released as b-sides on singles from the next album - Fear Of The Dark (1992).

On 28 September 2012, The Beach Boys performed at the arena for the last concert of their 50th Anniversary Reunion Tour.

On 7 October 2012, Wembley hosted the BBC Radio 1 Teen Awards 2012 which starred fun., Conor Maynard, Little Mix, Ne-Yo, Taylor Swift and One Direction.

The surviving members of Bad Company (Paul Rodgers, Mick Ralphs and Simon Kirke) with Howard Leese and Lynn Sorensen, played to a sold out crowd in April 2010, with a DVD and CD recorded for the occasion.

American rock band Evanescence announced a return to the UK for a 4-date arena tour, which finished in Wembley Arena on November 9, 2012. The tour was in support of their self-titled third studio album.

You Me At Six performed on 8 December 2012 and sold out the venue. The show was filmed with a live DVD to be released in 2013.

Jeff Wayne's Musical Version of The War of the Worlds : The New Generation came Wembley Arena on 6 December as part of the new productions arena tour of the UK in late 2012. The original version of the War of the Worlds was also on stage at Wembley in 2006 and was recorded for the DVD release of the show.

K-pop boy band BIGBANG performed their first concert in the UK at the Wembley arena on December 14 and 15, 2012 as part of their BIGBANG Alive Galaxy Tour 2012.

John Mayer performed an additional date of his 2013 world tour at Wembley Arena on October 26th, 2013.[10]

Super Junior performed at the arena on November 9th, 2013 as part of their fifth sold out world tour, Super Show 5.

Avenged Sevenfold headlined the arena for the first time on December 1st 2013 as part of their Hail To The King tour. They had support from Five Finger Death Punch and from the Swedish band Avatar. The event was highly anticipated and tickets for the event were quickly sold out.

Bullet For My Valentine have headlined the arena twice, on December 12 2010 and December 5 2013. Bring Me The Horizon and Atreyu were the opening acts for the 2010 show, while Asking Alexandria and Young Guns were the opening acts for the 2013 show.

On June 1st 2014 the arena's name changed to The SSE Arena, Wembley

On August 4th 2014 American pop-punk band All Time Low announced the first arena headline show of their career, to be held on March 20th 2015 and will be filmed for an upcoming DVD.

Sporting events[edit]

Wembley Arena with Olympic rings for the 2012 Summer Olympics

From 1934 until 1990 the Empire Pool / Wembley Arena was the venue for the Wembley Professional Tennis Championships which was a part of the professional grand slam from 1927 until 1967.

Indoor sporting events such as boxing, mixed martial arts and ice hockey have long been popular at the venue, notably the World Championship bout between then champion Alan Minter and challenger Marvin Hagler, which the latter won, after which a racially motivated riot followed.

From the late 1960s to the late 1970s, the Skol 6-Day cycle race was held here. An indoor velodrome of 166 metres was assembled from sections each September. This was Britain's first indoor velodrome. Top professional riders from the European 6-Day circuit came to London, including Eddy Merckx, Peter Post, Patrick Sercu and many others. British riders such as World pursuit champion Hugh Porter and British Champion Tony Gowland rode with distinction. Another rider was the Australian Gary Wiggins, father of Bradley Wiggins, Tour de France winner 2012.

The Wembley Lions and Wembley Monarchs were two ice-hockey teams that used the venue regularly during the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s, while the London Lions used the venue for a season in the 1970s. Wembley also hosted the British Hockey League play-off finals weekend at the end of each season up until the league's disbandment in 1996. The arena also played host to NHL teams the Toronto Maple Leafs and the New York Rangers for a pair of challenge matches in 1993. Rumours suggest that professional ice hockey might return to the Wembley Arena in the near future, with Notthingham and Braehead owner Neil Black reportedly behind a drive to establish an Elite League franchise in the capital.[11]

More recently netball, darts, basketball, five-aside football, and cage fighting have made regular appearances on the calendar.

During the 1948 Summer Olympics, the venue hosted the Olympic boxing, Olympic diving, Olympic swimming, and Olympic water polo events.[12]

The Horse of the Year Show was held there from 1959–2002.

It hosted the final of the Whyte and Mackay Premier League Darts 2009 where James Wade triumphed against Mervyn King, who beat Phil Taylor in the semi-finals as he failed to successfully defend his 4 titles. Whyte and Mackay Premier League Darts also hosted the playoff finals in 2010 at Wembley Arena when Phil Taylor won the title beating James Wade and making history by being the first dart player to hit a 9 Darter in a final, and being the first dart player to hit 2 9 Darters in a darts match live on TV! The 888.com 2011 Premier League Darts Finals also took place at Wembley where Adrian Lewis beat Phil Taylor 8–3 in their semi-final but ultimately lost against Gary Anderson 10–4 in the Final itself on the same night.

Between 2007 and 2011 of January, it played host to Masters snooker.

The venue has hosted many professional wrestling events from WWE, WWA and TNA Impact Wrestling including Impact TV tapings on 28 January 2012.[13][14]

In 2011 and 2012, it played host to a BAMMA event.

Event Date
BAMMA 6 Saturday May 21, 2011
BAMMA 10 Saturday September 15, 2012

The venue hosted Olympic badminton and Olympic rhythmic gymnastics at the 2012 Summer Olympics.[15]

On Saturday 16 February 2013, it played host to UFC on Fuel TV: Barao vs. McDonald, the first ever UFC event to be held there.[16]

On the 21 and 22 of June 2014, the European League Of Legends Championship Series, which is a competitive Esports league in the computer game League of Legends, played its Week 5 matches in this arena. [17]

Square of Fame[edit]

Square of Fame

With the reopening of Wembley Arena in 2006, a "Square of Fame" area has been created in front of the arena.[citation needed] Similar to the Hollywood Walk of Fame, notable Wembley Arena performers are invited to have bronze plaques imprinted with their names and handprints. The first star to have a plaque was Madonna, on 1 August 2006.[18][not in citation given]

On 9 November 2006, Cliff Richard added his handprints to the Square.[citation needed] Rick Parfitt and Francis Rossi, of Status Quo, unveiled a plaque, with one of each of their handprints, on 16 December 2006.[citation needed] On 9 January 2007, Kylie Minogue included her handprints, on the final day of the London leg of her Showgirl Homecoming Tour.[citation needed]

Seven-time World Snooker Champion Stephen Hendry added his handprints on 21 January 2007.[citation needed] International country superstar Dolly Parton unveiled her plaque, on the final night of her UK tour, on 25 March 2007.[citation needed]

Canadian music star Bryan Adams unveiled his plaque on 10 May 2007, just before his 25th appearance at the venue.[citation needed] Just three days later, former Commodores frontman Lionel Richie was presented with his plaque on 13 May 2007, after another sold-out performance at the arena.[citation needed]

Members of the Irish boyband Westlife unveiled their plaque on 28 March 2008, after 27 sell-out shows in the space of 10 years. They have sold 250,000 tickets. All four members, Shane Filan, Nicky Byrne, Kian Egan and Mark Feehily, were presented with a cast of their hands, which can also be seen in the Square of Fame, putting them as the arena's biggest selling pop band.[19][not in citation given]

Television[edit]

Wembley Arena has been used in 2011 and 2012 for episodes of Strictly Come Dancing during the week of Children in Need. It is also used for the 2011 and 2013 final of The X Factor. The Wembley Arena was also the location of the first round of the ITV game show Red or Black? in 2011. Named the Red or Black? Arena on the programme, players must sit on a coloured seat that corresponds to one of the two colours. If they get it right, they'll move on to the next round.

On 22 September 2013, Wembley Arena hosted The Love School Event with a crowd of over 11,000 people when TV presenters Renato and Cris Cardoso shared their experience and delivered a hearty lesson of love for all. It was also the first time when a book (Bulletproof Marriage) was launched at the Wembley Arena.

Transport[edit]

Wembley Arena is served by Wembley Park Station on the London Underground via Olympic Way, and Wembley Central via the White Horse Bridge. It also has a rail link provided by the Wembley Stadium railway station to London Marylebone and Birmingham. The 92 bus route stops directly outside the arena.

The onsite parking facility is shared with Wembley Stadium, essentially being the open air surface parking surrounding the eastern flank of Wembley Stadium and the multistory car park. These are called Green Car Park and Red Car Park respectively. There is disabled parking available onsite, at the Green Car Park, at a reduced rate but on a first come first served basis.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "AEG Facilities to run Wembley Arena". Wembley Arena. 2 September 2013. Retrieved 7 October 2013. 
  2. ^ Sweney, Mark (10 April 2014). "Wembley Arena to be renamed". The Guardian. Retrieved 3 May 2014. 
  3. ^ "Downfall of the daydream idol David Cassidy". Express.co.uk. 23 August 2013. Retrieved 7 April 2014. 
  4. ^ Carl Magnus Palm, "Bright Lights Dark Shadows" (2002)
  5. ^ a b Documentary "Words and Music", Polar Music International AB (1980)
  6. ^ "Tina Turner Wembley Events". 
  7. ^ "Pearl Jam set new Wembley record". Music Week. 19 June 2007. Retrieved 7 May 2011. 
  8. ^ "Still On The Road Index Page". Bjorner.com. 15 May 2012. 
  9. ^ "Alter Bridge to Film Show at Wembley Arena For DVD Release". Artist Direct. 11 Nov 2011. Retrieved 7 April 2014. 
  10. ^ "John Mayer Announces An Additional London October 2013 Show At Wembley Arena Due To Phenomenal Demand". contactmusic.com. 14 May 2013. Retrieved 7 April 2014. 
  11. ^ http://www.britishicehockey.co.uk/news/eihl-set-for-wembley-franchise--6660.html
  12. ^ 1948 Summer Olympic official report. pp. 43, 49.
  13. ^ "TNA IMPACT WRESTLING To Be Taped For Television Live At Wembley Arena". impactwrestling.com. 6 January 2012. 
  14. ^ "TNA News: TNA announces first international TV taping scheduled for this month". PWTorch.com. 6 January 2012. 
  15. ^ "profile". London2012.com. Retrieved 7 May 2011. 
  16. ^ "Renan Barao v Michael McDonald announced for UFC title fight at Wembley Arena | UFC News". ESPN.co.uk. 2012-12-06. Retrieved 2014-06-20. 
  17. ^ "EU LCS heads to London’s Wembley Arena!". 
  18. ^ "Wembley Arena". LiveNation. Retrieved 4 April 2007. 
  19. ^ "Arena Square , Wembley City". Whatsonwembley.com. Retrieved 7 May 2011. 

External links[edit]