|Former names||Milton Keynes Bowl (1979-1992)|
|Location||Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, England|
|Operator||Gaming International/Live Nation UK|
The National Bowl (originally the Milton Keynes Bowl) is an entertainment venue located in Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, England. The site was a former clay-pit (for brick-making), filled in and raised to form an amphitheatre using sub-soil excavated by the many new developments in the area and it has a current maximum capacity of 65,000. The arena is open-air grassland, without seats.
In 1992, Sony/Pace bought the venue and re-branded it as the National Bowl, building a permanent massive sound stage. They pulled out in 1996 citing profitability reasons.
English Partnerships, which merged with the Homes and Communities Agency in 2008, bought the site in 2000. It is currently[when?] leased to a Gaming International/Live Nation UK consortium.[needs update] In 2012, the original stage was demolished to make way for a new one in time for the Swedish House Mafia concert in July.
2006 development plans
On 23 January 2006, Gaming International/Live Nation won a further lease in a competitive tender. The consortium made proposals for major developments in a a development summary leaflet (previously linked from the 'Backstage' section of the National Bowl website, now removed).
Gaming International handed The Bowl back to Milton Keynes Partnership towards the end of 2010 – so it is unlikely that any of the plans outlined in 2006 will ever be undertaken – apart from a temporary structure built close to The Bowl in summer 2010 which has a temporary three-year planning permission.
2014 proposed plans
In February 2014, the BBC reported that an investment company had proposed a new development at the site of Milton Keynes Bowl. This was planned to include the UK's largest water park, and a range of sports facilities and enhancements to the arena. In July 2015, the investment firm leading the proposal announced that it would not proceed with the plan.
Internationally notable artists
- In 1982, Genesis performed their reunion show Six of the Best at the venue with Steve Hackett and Peter Gabriel.
- On 5 June 1982, Queen performed the show for their Hot Space Tour in this venue. A Live album/DVD title Queen on Fire – Live at the Bowl was also released on the 25 October 2004 in Europe and on 9 November 2004 in the US with the complete concert and bonus material.
- In 1983 on the 1,2, and 3 July David Bowie played three dates of the Serious Moonlight tour at the bowl. He returned in 1990.
- On 21 and 22 June 1986 Simple Minds performed at the bowl. Also on the bill were Doctor and the Medics, Lloyd Cole and the Commotions, Big Audio Dynamite and The Waterboys.
- On 10 September 1988, Michael Jackson performed at the bowl during his Bad World Tour in front of 60,000 people.
- In 2006, Take That performed their reunion tour The Ultimate Tour
- Queen have released a DVD and double CD of their 1982 appearance at the Bowl entitled Queen on Fire - Live at the Bowl.
- Status Quo had their End of the Road Concert filmed here in 1984, it was released on 2 VHS tapes, End of the Road, and More from End of the Road, the concert marked their end as a touring band, but later revived in 1985 for the Live Aid Concert.
- Erasure performed their last date of the Wild! Tour and called "Erasure Live at Milton Keynes Bowl" on 1 September 1990 with more of 60,000 people in National Bowl. This spectacular show of Erasure was broadcast live on "Radio 1" and BBC Television and it was presented by journalist of BBC Radio 1, Gary Davies.
- Metallica Performed their last leg of the Wherever I May Roam Tour and called it Nowhere Left to Roam at the Bowl on 5 June 1993. This was broadcast live on "Radio 1".
- Green Day's album Bullet in a Bible, and the accompanying DVD, were recorded at the National Bowl in the summer of 2005. The band's two-night stand was supported by Jimmy Eat World, Taking Back Sunday and Hard-Fi. The bowl also appears in Green Day: Rock Band as one of the playable venues.
- Linkin Park released Road to Revolution: Live at Milton Keynes, a CD/DVD set from their first ever UK Projekt Revolution show, filmed on 29 June 2008. Jay Z also headlined with supporting acts Pendulum, N.E.R.D, Enter Shikari, The Bravery & Innerpartysystem. This show turned out to be the biggest capacity Projekt Revolution to date, and it was the first year in the tour's history to be featured outside North America.
- The Prodigy have released first live album and second DVD of their 2010 appearance at the Bowl entitled World's on Fire.
- Swedish House Mafia held their final UK show on their farewell tour in July 2012. Scenes from the performance were seen in the music video for their final single, "Don't You Worry Child".
Gaming International already owns Elfield Park, a narrow strip of land on the other side of the A5 from the Bowl, between the A5 and the West Coast Main Line. They cleared a site for the new greyhound stadium there, having recently (2005) purchased it from English Partnerships, and evicted the speedway track and motocross club that had used it for 20 years. Greyhound racing in Milton Keynes was previously at Ashland (since 1966): Gaming International owned that too, but sold it to English Partnerships as a brownfield site for a 350 house development. (The sale of the latter funded the purchase of the former or vice versa). A section of the Elfield Park site is designated as an educational nature reserve.
Milton Keynes Motor Auctions
Milton Keynes Stadium Car Auctions is housed on this strip of land. Car auctions are held there on Wednesday and Friday.
The Bowl is in south central Milton Keynes, at the junction of Watling Street with Chaffron Way, just north of Bletchley. Parking on site (MK5 8AA) is very limited so fans are encouraged to arrive by public transport. In addition to the shuttle buses from Milton Keynes Central railway station, it is also an easy walk (about 2 km (1.2 mi)) from the station using Sustrans National Cycle Route 51 from the south side of the station building.
- National Bowl official website
- Milton Keynes National Bowl plans £26m indoor water park - BBC Beds, Hertz and Bucks, 27 February 2014
- Setback for National Bowl plans, Milton Keynes Citizen, 14 July 2015
- "Simple Minds at The National Bowl (Milton Keynes) on 22 Jun 1986 — Last.fm". www.last.fm. Retrieved 30 July 2016.
- "Michael Jackson at the MK Bowl 1988". BBC Three Counties Radio. BBC. 3 February 2016. Retrieved 20 June 2019.
- Elfield Nature Park – The Parks Trust