Written by Music

The [Insert Your Name Here] Arena

Earlier today I got an email advertising an upcoming gig with Sting and Paul Simon. Tickets are going on sale soon for the event taking place at the Phones 4U Arena.

Phones 4U Arena? That’s a new one to me. I realised pretty quickly that it probably wasn’t new, and was just a recent sponsorship deal. But as much as I scanned the email, there was no mention of a city.

It turns out it’s in Manchester. But then the arena in Manchester has been through a few names. It was called the NYNEX Arena for a while, then for quite a long time it was the Manchester Evening News, or MEN Arena. After that longterm deal expired, seemingly a sponsor couldn’t be found. So it became the Manchester Arena. And then last year, it became the Phones 4U Arena.

Just trips off the tongue.

The problem is that since every arena in the country is sponsored in some capacity and marketing folk just have to bite the bullet and work in the location as well as the sponsor. So how about “The Phones 4U Manchester Arena”? That’d be fine wouldn’t it? We’d all know where it was.

And this isn’t just some kind of southern bias. In London we have Wembley Arena. Originally it was actually a swimming pool for the 1934 Empire Games. But from 1978 until earlier this year it was Wembley Arena. Given that it sits right outside Wembley Stadium, that was fine. But now it has a sponsor and is known as the SSE Arena. It really needs to be called the SSE Wembley Arena, but some marketing person won’t do that because the know the average visitor will just drop the “SSE” and carry on calling it “Wembley Arena”. Well I have news. They’re going to call it Wembley Arena anyway, because it’s the arena right outside Wembley Stadium.

I was confused by SSE because I was sure that was the name of something in Glasgow.

It is. There they have the SSE Hydro, which although sounding like a strangely sponsored spa to this Sassanach, is actually a brand new arena. It just shares sponsorship because SSE no doubt wants to “own” music venues (that’s the sort of language marketing people use about these sorts of things).

In the meantime, you might go to a gig at the O2. You probably mean the dome. The millennium place. The North Greenwich Arena as it was known during the Olympics (and which rival telecoms outfit EE still sometimes calls it). But not to be confused with the O2 Academy Brixton (aka Brixton Academy), the O2 Academy Islington (Wasn’t that the Carling Academy?) or the O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire (aka the Shepherd’s Bush Empire), or one of a dozen or so other Academies or ABCs up and down the country also called the O2.

Perhaps your gig of choice is in Hammersmith. Originally the Gaumont Palace, it became the Hammersmith Odeon, then Labbatt’s Apollo, the Carling Apollo Hammersmith, the HMV Apollo Hammersmith, the Eventim Apollo, and for quite a lot of time the Hammersmith Apollo. Eventim Apollo is the current name, because Eventim means such a lot to UK consumers (they’re a German ticketing company).

Anyway, however much I may dislike naming rights, I understand it’s part of the venue industry. But please try to include the location of the venue in your fancy new name. Because otherwise I may dismiss your gig as being irrelevant to me because it’s in a distant city when in fact it’s just up the road (although in Wembley’s case, it can be both in the same city and distant).