The SSE Hydro

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The SSE Hydro
The Hydro
SSE Hydro logo.png
SSE Hydro in Glasgow.jpg
Location Exhibition Way
Finnieston, Glasgow
G3 8YW
Coordinates 55°51′37″N 4°17′06″W / 55.860297°N 4.284926°W / 55.860297; -4.284926Coordinates: 55°51′37″N 4°17′06″W / 55.860297°N 4.284926°W / 55.860297; -4.284926
Public transit Exhibition Centre railway station
Owner SEC Ltd
Operator AEG Live
Executive suites 11
Capacity 13,000
Field size 125 m wide, 41 m high
Broke ground February 2011
Built 2011–2013
Opened 30 September 2013 (2013-09-30)
Construction cost £125 million
Architect Foster and Partners
Project manager Turner & Townsend
Structural engineer Arup Group Limited
Services engineer Arup Group Limited
General contractor Lend Lease
Translucent cushions being installed, July 2013.
The SSE Hydro in October 2013

The SSE Hydro is a multi-purpose indoor arena located on the site of the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre (SECC) in Glasgow, Scotland. The arena is named after its main sponsor, energy company SSE plc. The arena was designed by the London-based architects Foster + Partners and officially opened on 30 September 2013, with a concert by Rod Stewart.[1]

The SSE Hydro handled 1,021,038 ticket sales in 2015, making it the third-busiest music arena in the world in terms of ticket sales, behind only The O2 Arena and the Manchester Arena, and performing higher than the famous Madison Square Garden in New York.


The SECC identified the need for a new arena in which sports and other public events could be held. Previously, such events were held in Glasgow Hall 4, in the SECC main building. However, the venue's audience capacity is limited, seating just over 10,000. Therefore, it is unable to accommodate the high attendance typically associated with large-scale performance events, such as rock concerts and children’s shows. The new arena is located with the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre and the Clyde Auditorium and hosts international musical stars, global entertainment and sporting events, with an aim to attract one million visitors each year. [2]

As of 2015, the SSE Hydro is the third-busiest music arena in the world in terms of ticket sales, handling 1,021,038 tickets.

World's Busiest Arenas – 2015[3]
Venue 2015 Ticket sales for concerts/shows
The O2 Arena, London, UK 1,819,487
Manchester Arena, Manchester, UK 1,130,794
The SSE Hydro Glasgow, UK 1,021,038
Madison Square Garden, NY, USA 1,013,453
Ziggo Dome, Amsterdam, NL 821,475
Mexico City Arena, Mexico City, Mexico 802,031
Lanxess Arena, Cologne, Germany 733,433
Barclays Center, Brooklyn, NY, USA 671,092
Air Canada Centre, Toronto, CA 643,845
Allstate Arena, Rosemont, IL, USA 632,878


Planning for the SSE Hydro began some time in 2001 as the second redevelopment of the Queens Dock in Glasgow. By 2003, a plan had been unveiled for a £125 million entertainment arena, holding 12,000 seated audience members and 1,000 standing. London-based architects Foster and Partners were appointed as the design team for the Hydro by 2004 with Glasgow-based Elphinsone additionally appointed as the preferred developer for the site. The design of the arena was finally released to the press by 2005, and the SECC gained full planning consent for the arena by 2006. Construction for the arena finally began in February 2011 by construction company Lend Lease. By November 2011, building work for the roof of the arena had begun, which was completed by April 2013. The arena's signature translucent outer cushions were installed in May 2013, along with the seating inside of the arena, marking construction of the arena completed, taking two years to complete.[4]


At approximately 3:20 pm on 8 June 2013,[5] flames were reported to be coming from the domed roof of the partially completed building.[6] Forty fire fighters from the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service attended the blaze.[7] It was determined that the fire was caused by ongoing welding work on the building's roof.[8][9] On 18 June, the venue's operator revealed that despite additional challenges, work on the venue was still on track.[10]


As well as hosting concerts the arena has also been a recording location of the musical competition, The X Factor and has hosted both the MOBO Awards in 2013.[57]


On December 14, 2014 the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award ceremony was held at the venue.[58] During the 2014 Commonwealth Games the SSE Hydro was home to the netball and gymnastic events.[59] On July 18, 2015 the UFC held their inaugural Scottish event UFC Fight Night: Bisping vs. Leites at the Hydro.[60] From October 23 to November 1, 2015 the SSE Hydro hosted the Artistic gymnastics world championships.[61]


The SSE Hydro was host to the largest televised debate seen in Scotland's history, Scotland Decides: The Big, Big Debate, held on September 11, 2014 towards the end of the Scottish independence referendum, 2014 campaign. The Mentorn/BBC Scotland organised debate, in which every secondary school in Scotland was invited to take part, involved around 7,500 first time voters and was broadcast on BBC One during the evening of 11 September 2014[62] and was presented by James Cook.[63]


  1. ^ During the show at SSE Hydro, the lights came up with the encore performance of "Holiday" still left to be started. Madonna chose to continue performing the song with her dancers and asked the audience to join her in a sing-along. Representative of the venue reported that the power was cut off by Madonna's production team to avoid late fines
  1. ^ "Timeline". Retrieved 2016-02-09. 
  2. ^ "Timeline – The SSE Hydro". June 2014. Retrieved 30 July 2016. 
  3. ^ "TOP 200 ARENA VENUES 2015" (PDF). 31 December 2015. 
  4. ^ "Timeline". Retrieved 2016-02-10. 
  5. ^ "Fire hits city's £125m Hydro venue". Paisley Daily Express. 8 June 2013. Retrieved 8 June 2013. 
  6. ^ "Glasgow Hydro fire: Crews tackle blaze in domed roof". BBC News. 8 June 2013. Retrieved 8 June 2013. 
  7. ^ "Firefighters tackle blaze at Hydro concert venue on the River Clyde". STV. 8 June 2013. Retrieved 8 June 2013. 
  8. ^ "Welder's torch blamed for starting huge fire at Glasgow's new £125m Hydro arena". Daily Record. 9 June 2013. Retrieved 18 June 2013. 
  9. ^ "Glasgow Hydro fire: Blaze caused by welding sparks". BBC News. 10 June 2013. Retrieved 18 June 2013. 
  10. ^ "Glasgow Hydro venue construction 'remains on target' despite fire". The Courier. 18 June 2013. Retrieved 18 June 2013. 
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  23. ^ "GLASGOW TO HOST THE 2014 MTV EMA". EMA.MTV. Retrieved 2016-02-10. 
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  39. ^ Kreps, Daniel (December 22, 2015). "Watch Madonna Sing 'Holiday' Without Power at Glasgow Concert". Rolling Stone. Retrieved December 22, 2015. 
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  57. ^ "Review: The X Factor, The SSE Hydro, Glasgow". Herald Scotland. Retrieved 2016-02-10. 
  58. ^ "BBC Sports Personality 2014: Shortlisted named for award". BBC. BBC. Retrieved 14 December 2014. 
  59. ^ "SSE Hydro confirmed as host venue for Games Netball Final". Glasgow 2014. Retrieved 2016-02-10. 
  60. ^ "UFC Fight Night: Bisping vs. Leites". UFC. Retrieved 2016-02-10. 
  61. ^ "The SSE Hydro – 2015 World Gymnastics Championships". Retrieved 2016-02-10. 
  62. ^ Taylor, Marianne; Fraser, Graham; Sayers, Louise; Currie, Martin (11 September 2014). "Referendum Live – as it happened". BBC News (Scotland), n.d. BBC. Retrieved 14 September 2014. 
  63. ^ "Scottish independence: Plans announced for Scotland's 'biggest ever debate'". BBC News. Retrieved 23 June 2014. 

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