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Antwerps Sportpaleis
LocationSchijnpoortweg 119, 2170 Merksem, Antwerp, Belgium
Coordinates51°13′52″N 4°26′28″E / 51.23111°N 4.44111°E / 51.23111; 4.44111
OwnerProvince of Antwerp
Operatornv Antwerps Sportpaleis
Capacity23,359 (maximum capacity) 18,400 seats (sport)
Broke ground1932
OpenedSeptember 11, 1933

The Antwerps Sportpaleis (English: Antwerp's Sport Palace), also called Sportpaleis Antwerpen, Sportpaleis Merksem or simply the Sportpaleis, is an arena in Antwerp, Belgium. It is a multipurpose hall where concerts, sporting events, festivals and fairs are organized. The arena was built for sport, especially track cycling, but there is now little sport there, an exception being the Diamond Games tennis. It is the largest indoor venue in Europe.

According to Billboard Magazine, the Sportpaleis is the second most visited event hall in the world, second only to Madison Square Garden.[1] The Sportpaleis is known for performances by both Dutch-speaking and international artists. It also hosts the Nekka-Nacht, the Proximus Diamond Games tennis tournament for women and Pop Poll De Luxe, organised by the magazine HUMO.

The main building is 88 metres wide and 132 metres long and has a roof spanning 11.600 m². Under the stands, there is a wooden cycling track 250 meters long and 8 meters wide. The arena is elliptical and has two floors.

Next to the Sportpaleis is its sister venue the Lotto Arena, a hall that can accommodate 8,000 spectators.


Building started on 11 January 1932. It lasted 21 months: on 11 September 1933, the building was completed, the largest indoor arena in Europe. The Sportpaleis was built by the Apostel-Mampaey family from Boom. They were internationally renowned velodrome builders from 1907 up until the Second World War. The velodrome builders of Boom were very much in demand. They built tracks in Gentbrugge (1911), Wilrijk ‘Garden City’ (1916), Nice and Marseille (1920), Ostend (1921-1946), Brussel-Heizel (1932) and Oudenaarde (1933). The famous ‘Kuipke’ in Ghent (1922) and the even more famous Sportpaleis in Deurne (1933). In 2008 a book "De velodroombouwers Apostel-Mampaey" was published.

On 29 September 1956, road cycling world champion Stan Ockers died a few days after a crash in his 116th performance at the track. The UCI Track Cycling World Championships was held at the Sportpaleis in 1969 and 2001.

On 19 November 1988, Roy Orbison gave his last performance in Europe at the Sportpaleis.

Janet Jackson was scheduled to perform during her All for You Tour on 29 November 2001, but the show was cancelled with the rest of her European tour because of possible terrorist threats.[2] The same happened on her 2016 Unbreakable World Tour because of scheduling conflicts.

American R&B singer, Beyoncé performed on her The Beyoncé Experience Tour, on 19 May 2007. On 7 May 2009, Beyoncé returned for her I Am... World Tour. Tickets for two consecutive concerts (33,000 seats) on 14 & 15 May 2013, as part of The Mrs. Carter Show World Tour, sold out in under an hour; a new record.[3] The first show on 14 May 2013 was cancelled three hours before the show and rescheduled to 31 May 2013.[4][5] She subsequently beat her own record by selling 40,000 tickets in under one hour for two 2014 concerts at the venue.[6][7]

Dutch symphonic metal band Within Temptation celebrated their 15 anniversary with a very special show entitled "Elements" at the Sportpaleis. They were accompanied by the renowned Il Novecentro Orchestra and some special guests. The concert was held on November 13, 2012, and was sold out.[8][9]

On 31 January 2015, Antwerp Giants beat the attendance record to a basketball game in Belgium. 17,135 spectators attended to the Belgian Basketball League win over Spirou Charleroi by 88–83.[10]


Many world music stars performed in this venue including: 2 Unlimited, AC/DC, Adele, Alice Cooper, Alicia Keys, Anastacia, Andre Rieu, Ariana Grande, Bastille, Beyoncé Knowles, The Black Eyed Peas, Bob Dylan, Bon Jovi, Boy George, Britney Spears, Bruce Springsteen, Bruno Mars, Bryan Adams, Celine Dion, Coldplay, Deep Purple, Depeche Mode, Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike, The Eagles, Ellie Goulding, Eric Clapton, Faithless, Fleetwood Mac, Gotye, Green Day, Guns N' Roses, Gwen Stefani, Il Divo, Iron Maiden, Jean-Michel Jarre, Jennifer Lopez, John Fogerty, Jonas Brothers, Justin Bieber, Katy Perry, Kings of Leon, Kylie Minogue, Lady Gaga, Lana Del Rey, Lenny Kravitz, Leonard Cohen,like Mike and Dimitri Vegas with 2 four date concerts stopping here, Lionel Richie, Madonna, Mark Knopfler, Massive Attack, Metallica, Michael Bublé, Mika, Milk Inc., Miley Cyrus, Muse, Neil Diamond, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, One Direction, Ozzy Osbourne, Paul McCartney, Pink Floyd, Pink, Placebo, Prince, Queen + Adam Lambert, Queen + Paul Rodgers, Queens of the Stone Age, Rage Against the Machine, Rammstein, Rihanna, The Rolling Stones, Roy Orbison, Sade, Santana, Scorpions, Shakira, Simply Red, Spice Girls, Sting, Supertramp, Tiësto, Tina Turner, U2, Whitney Houston, Within Temptation and Hans Zimmer.


Billboard Magazine said the Sportpaleis was the second most visited event hall in the world between November 2007 and November 2008, with 1,239,436 visitors. Only Madison Square Garden in New York had more.[1]

The arena can hold 23,001 people after expansions in 2012 and 2013.[citation needed]

Transport connections[edit]

The Sportpaleis lies at the R. Grégoirplein square at the crossing of two large traffic axes, the Bisschoppenhoflaan/Schijnpoortweg, having an east-west orientation, and the Burgemeester Gabriel Theunisbrug, going north over the Albert Canal. In its immediate proximity also lies the Deurne highway ramp of the R1 ring road, as well as the Singel urban ring road. Also nearby lie 3 car parks operated by the Sportpaleis, and two more car parks, of a nearby Gamma shop and the Antwerp slaughterhouse, are also available when large events are held.[11] Even so, traffic near the Sportpaleis can get extremely dense when such events are held, leading to large traffic jams and causing nuisance with the inhabitants of the neighborhood.[12]

The Sportpaleis is also well connected to the Antwerp public transport system. Underground, next to the Sportpaleis, lies Sport premetro station, which is serviced by tram routes 2, 3 and 6, running between either Luchtbal or Merksem to the north and the city centre and the western or southern parts of the city in the other direction, via the Antwerp premetro network. Above ground also lies the terminus of tram route 12, following an above ground trajectory toward the city centre and Zuid neighborhood to the south. In addition to these, tram route 5 also has a stop called "Sportpaleis" near the premetro exit at the Ten Eekhovelei to the south of the complex. The route runs between Deurne and Wijnegem to the east and the city centre and Linkeroever to the west. Finally, it is also serviced by bus lines 19 and 413.[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b VRT. "Sportpaleis draws huge crowds".
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ "Two concerts sold out - Waiting list opens". Sportpaleis Group (in Dutch). December 17, 2013. Retrieved December 17, 2013.
  8. ^
  9. ^[permanent dead link]
  10. ^ Round up: Magical 'Night of Giants'; FIBA Europe; 2 February 2015
  11. ^ "Antwerps Sportpaleis". Retrieved 16 September 2016.
  12. ^ "Districten vragen oplossing voor overlast Sportpaleis". Retrieved 16 September 2016.
  13. ^ De Lijn. "Network map Antwerp city centre" (PDF). Retrieved 16 September 2016.

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Olympic Velodrome
UCI Track Cycling World Championships

Succeeded by
Saffron Lane
Preceded by
Manchester Velodrome
UCI Track Cycling World Championships

Succeeded by
Siemens Arena
Ballerup, Copenhagen
Preceded by
World Artistic Gymnastics Championships

Succeeded by