|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. It has a 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. From 2006 to 2010, it was leased to a Gaming International/Live Nation UK consortium.
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.
2013 proposed plans
In December 2011, Milton Keynes Council officially adopted proposals to make Milton Keynes an “International Sporting City” which included ambitious plans to redevelop the National Bowl into an international-standard sports training base suitable for hosting visiting international teams when they played at Stadium MK or elsewhere in the UK and also as a permanent home for MK Dons.
Milton Keynes Council agreed to fund the training complex as part of a property deal with Inter MK, a property development company owned by MK Dons chairman Peter Winkelman, on land owned by the Council in Newport Pagnell that was earmarked for housing development and expected to increase substantially in value when planning permission was given. The funding plan involved sale of the site to Inter MK for £2 million, with half of any increase in the value of the site being used to fund the training ground development and the remainder being returned to the Council. However, this plan was abandoned in early 2014 following some local residents beginning judicial review proceedings against the Council on the basis that the plan involved illegal state aid to Inter MK.
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.
2019 proposed plans
In June 2019, Milton Keynes Council replaced the previous objective in its Council Plan to “Revitalise MK Bowl” with an objective to “Support the MK Dons in delivering a high-standard training ground and academy”.
This allowed a deal to be agreed in September 2019 between Milton Keynes Council and Inter MK Limited for the National Bowl to be converted into a sports training ground facility partly funded by the Section 106 contributions from enabling commercial and leisure development at the site.
This returned to the 2013 proposals which Milton Keynes Council had decided not to pursue. It followed the sale by Inter MK of land in Newport Pagnell to Milton Keynes Council for £11 million in July 2018.
Inter MK is expected to lodge its planning application with Milton Keynes Council by the end of 2020.
Internationally notable artists
This section needs additional citations for verification. (March 2020)
- 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 DVD/live album title Queen on Fire – Live at the Bowl was also released on 25 October 2004 in Europe and on 9 November 2004 in the US with the complete concert and bonus material.
- In 1983 on 1–3 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 21 August 1988, Van Halen performed at the bowl during their OU812 tour.
- On 10 September 1988, Michael Jackson performed at the Bowl during his Bad World Tour in front of 60,000 people.
- On 19 August 1989, Bon Jovi performed at the Bowl. Their set included surprise special guests from Aerosmith Steven Tyler and Joe Perry. Support acts through the afternoon were Europe, Vixen, and Skid Row with their first European performance.
- On 5 June 1993, Metallica performed at the Bowl. The concert contained the third-typical setlist for the Band's Nowhere Else to Roam tour.
- In 2001 and 2006, Robbie Williams played his Close Encounters Tour and his Weddings, Barmitzvahs & Stadiums Tour there,
- On 18 & 19 June 2005, Green Day performed and recorded their video album Bullet in a Bible in front of 65,000 people each night.
- In 2006, Take That performed their reunion tour The Ultimate Tour.
- On 2 and 3 July 2011, Foo Fighters performed back to back shows at the venue. The band returned on 5 and 6 September 2015 after having to cancel performances at Wembley Stadium and Glastonbury due to Dave Grohl having broken his leg at a show in Gothenburg (Sweden).
- 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 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 a proposed new greyhound racing stadium there, having recently (2005) purchased it from English Partnerships, and evicted the speedway team (called the Milton Keynes Knights) and motocross club that had used it for 20 years. The greyhound stadium never materialised.
Greyhound racing in Milton Keynes was previously held at Ashland: 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
- International Sporting City Steering Group Final Report (PDF) (Report). Milton Keynes Council. 2011.
- "Minutes of the meeting of Milton Keynes Council". 18 December 2013.
- James Averill (26 February 2014). "Call for judicial review of land". MK News.
- "Minutes of the meeting of Milton Keynes Council Executive Scrutiny Panel". 16 January 2014.
- "Milton Keynes Council response to FOI request (Tickford Fields)". 17 April 2019.
- "Ambitions for The Bowl" (Press release). MK Dons. 6 July 2013.
- "National Bowl Development Brief, paper for Milton Keynes Council meeting". Milton Keynes Council. 4 September 2013.
- 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
- "Milton Keynes Council Plan 2016-2022". Milton Keynes Council. 11 July 2019.
- "Dons given the nod to redevelop the National Bowl as a training base". Milton Keynes Citizen. 19 September 2019.
- Corporate Performance Report Annex B, Paper presented to meeting of Milton Keynes Council Scrutiny Management Committee (Report). 10 October 2018.
- "Delegated Decision Committee, Combined Decision Sheet". Milton Keynes Council. 12 June 2018.
- "Interview with Andy Cullen". MKFM. 10 April 2020.
- "Michael Jackson at the MK Bowl 1988". BBC Three Counties Radio. BBC. 3 February 2016. Retrieved 20 June 2019.
- "MILTON KEYNES, ENGLAND : NATIONAL BOWL / JUNE 5, 1993". Metalica. 5 June 1993.
- "Weddings, Barmitzvahs & Stadiums Tour". 2001. Retrieved 23 October 2021.
- Johnny Loftus (16 November 2005). "Green Day: Bullet in a Bible". pitchfork.com. Retrieved 19 March 2020.
- Foo Fighters announce 2011 Milton Keynes Bowl gigs and ticket details
- Foo Fighters announce new UK dates for cancelled gigs
- Elfield Nature Park Archived 5 April 2005 at the Wayback Machine – The Parks Trust