Having also had various professional basketball and ice hockey teams as tenants for much of its history, since 2009 it has had no ice hockey team after the departure of the Newcastle Vipers to the Whitley Bay Ice Rink, and no basketball team since the departure of the Newcastle Eagles to Northumbria University's Sport Central arena in 2010.
Two well known local musicians conceived and helped build the arena, Chas Chandler and his business partner Nigel Stanger, together with invaluable help from local Price Waterhouse Corporate Finance partner John Wall. The NYSE listed Ogden Corporation was awarded a 20-year contract in February 1995 to design the arena, and once completed, to manage the facility including booking and promotion. According to Ogden, the arena clearly filled a market opportunity for touring acts who had otherwise bypassed the area, with the next nearest local venue being the 2,000 seat Newcastle City Hall, and the only other medium-sized venues being as far away as Sheffield to the south or Glasgow to the north. Acts that did visit the region often had to make use of the 3,200 seat Whitley Bay Ice Rink.
The arena cost £10.6m to build (partly financed by a £2.5 million grant from Tyne and Wear Development Corporation), and opened as the Newcastle Arena on Saturday 18 November 1995 with a basketball league game between the resident team the Newcastle Comets, hosting the Doncaster Panthers. The venue was officially opened by Torville and Dean in January 1998.
The Ogden Corporation assumed full ownership of the arena after Chandler and Stanger sold their stakes in Park Arena Limited. Chandler died in 1996 while Stanger died in 1999. In 1997 the arena was renamed the Telewest Arena after a sponsorship deal with the telecommunications and cable-television company Telewest. In 2000 the Ogden Corporation sold the arena to SMG for $240m.
In January 2004 the arena was renamed as the Metro Radio Arena after a new sponsorship deal was signed with the independent local station Metro Radio. The seven figure deal was to last a minimum of three years. By 2005, the end of the first decade of operation, seven million people had attended events at the arena.
In 2008 plans drawn up by consultants working for Newcastle City Council and the land-owning stake-holders, SMG, Bellway Homes, Network Rail and Isle Casinos, were to be presented to the council, outlining three redevelopment options for the arena site: a casino and regional conference centre, a hotel, or mixed use office and housing, with the arena building potentially being demolished or upgraded as part of the proposal.
According to ASM Global, the open span arena is the largest concert and exhibition venue in the north east. It has 40,000 square feet (3,700 m2) of exhibition and conference space. For concerts, it has a seating capacity of 11,000 and more, while for basketball it can seat 6,500 and for ice shows, 5,500. A further 36,000 square metres of space is available for large events and exhibitions. In addition to the main arena, there are also two 100 capacity corporate lounges. The large foyer area previously housed two venues called the Mayfair and Riverside. The arena site also has a 600 space secure parking facility.
Situated on the South-Western edge of Newcastle city centre, the arena is loosely bounded to the south by the River Tyne, to the west by a business park, to the east by the elevated Redheugh Bridge which runs across the river, and to the north by the major thoroughfares of the Scotswood Road and West Road, connecting the city centre to its western districts.
The arena is oriented on an east–west alignment, with the main entrance located in the east wall. Steps lead down to a local north–south running street, Redheugh Bridge road, which is actually parallel to, and below, the actual bridge and was the road to the old Redheugh Bridge
The arena has been used since 1997 to host an annual convention of Jehovah's Witnesses. Local worshippers, as well as some from as far north as the Scottish Borders, as far south as North Yorkshire and as far west as Maryport, on the west coast of Cumbria, flock for the 3-day event in June; around 7,000 attend in total.
Other sporting events hosted by the arena have included Nations Cup snooker, Davis Cup tennis and world championship boxing.
Many prominent British boxers have fought at the Arena. The first major boxing event featured Nigel Benn being defeated in a WBC Super Middleweight title defence. In 1996 Prince Naseem Hamed defended his WBO Super Featherweight title. In 1999, Joe Calzaghe defended his WBO Super Middleweight title and Richie Woodhall defended his WBC Super Middleweight title on the same night. In 2001 Audley Harrison fought in his second professional bout. In 2002 Joe Calzaghe again defended his WBO title while Ricky Hatton headlined the card defending his WBU Light Welterweight title. In 2009 Amir Khan defended his WBA Light Welterweight title in a Sky Box Office Pay Per View event. In 2014 Stuart Hall twice defended his IBF Bantamweight title, losing his title in the second bout with Paul Butler. In 2015, future heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua headlined a live Sky Sports event. In 2017 former world champion Liam Smith is scheduled to face Liam Williams in a rematch and WBO Light Middleweight title eliminator live on BT Sport.
The Arena has also hosted major Mixed Martial Arts events, including UFC 80 in 2008 featuring BJ Penn's Lightweight Championship win. BAMMA 12 was hosted in 2013, while Cage Warriors 62 in 2013 and 73 in 2014 were also held at the Arena.
The arena has hosted many top acts of the music industry, including solo artists such as Janet Jackson, Shania Twain, Bryan Adams, Rihanna, Leona Lewis, Beyoncé, Britney Spears, Bruno Mars, Christina Aguilera, Toni Braxton, Elton John, Tom Jones, Pavarotti, Linkin Park, Katy Perry, Robbie Williams, Kylie Minogue, Gabrielle, Whitney Houston, Nicki Minaj, Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, Diana Ross, Cher, Mark Knopfler and bands/groups such as McFly, The Backstreet Boys, Oasis, Snow Patrol, KISS, Metallica, Journey, Coldplay, Imagine Dragons, Westlife, Take That, Spice Girls, Michael Bublé, JLS, The Saturdays, Girls Aloud, Wet Wet Wet, The Wanted, Little Mix, One Direction, AC/DC and Iron Maiden. The first concert at the arena is commonly assumed to have been by David Bowie shortly after opening, on 7 December 1995, although the actual first performers at the venue were local duo The Proud Ones, who filled in for Morrissey after he cancelled his appearance.
The arena was also the venue that hosted the first two nights of Take That's sold out comeback tour, The Ultimate Tour.
The Arena has hosted a number of all night dance events under the name of Godskitchen, many world-class DJ's such as Tiesto, Mauro Picotto, Judge Jules and Ferry Corsten have played in the venue to sell out crowds.
WWE has hosted numerous events at the arena, most notably Insurrextion on Saturday 7 June 2003.
The arena has also hosted stage and ice shows such as Disney on Ice, Teletubbies, and on 10 November 2010 Michael Flatley came to the arena during the European tour of 'The Return of Michael Flatley as the Lord of the Dance, he and his troupe performed in front of a sold-out audience, and Les Misérables came to the arena. Business events hosted have included trade exhibitions, corporate events and company meetings for BT Group and Northern Rock. The exterior space has also been used to stage events such as live-action motor sport displays and a circus.
On Monday 18 June 2012, it played host to the Newcastle audition stages of the ninth series of the ITV singer search programme The X Factor. The eventual winner of the series, James Arthur, auditioned here.
Since 2007, it has played host to the Premier League Darts.
Description courtesy of Wikipedia
4th November 2021
29th September 2020
27th December 2018
7th March 2008
15th June 2006
12th January 2006
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