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Gig economy: O2 Arena posts record revenue

The venue’s filings showed it enjoyed a record year in 2023, hoovering up over £500,000 a day in ticket sales and royalties.
The venue’s filings showed it enjoyed a record year in 2023, hoovering up over £500,000 a day in ticket sales and royalties.

The O2 Arena is regularly the stage of choice for rappers and singers, and its lyrics brag about the trappings of their luxurious lives. But this week numbers out from the arena itself suggest that the real money lies in the stage itself.

The venue’s filings showed it enjoyed a record year in 2023, hoovering up over £500,000 a day in ticket sales and royalties. Revenue at the arena, which has hosted the likes of Madonna, Elton John and The 1975 in the last year, rose by 12 per cent to £122m in 2023—the number of shows it put on rose from 203 to 216.

The results reflected a broader trend of venues benefiting from a particularly strong return after the pandemic. Consumers have sought to make up for a lack of live experiences during lockdowns, while some of the world’s biggest bands, comedians and pop stars have toured or re-toured cancelled shows.

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The numbers mark a new high point in what has been a remarkable ascent from the O2 Arena. Its original guise, an event space known as the Millennium Dome built to mark the turn of the century, was widely viewed as a flop after its construction went considerably over budget and it only attracted half the number of visitors anticipated.

News of the arena’s success will buoy the founder of Oak View Group, who last week announced plans to establish a state-of-the-art events arena in Hammersmith that would rival the O2 Arena.

Tim Leiweke, who used to work for the firm behind the O2 and is credited with being the architect behind its success, said that London was “the best market in the world… for entertainment” but that the city doesn’t have a venue to reflect that.

However, the launch of one of Leiweke’s other projects in Manchester risked descending into farce after it had to delay its opening at the last minute, leading to cancelled shows.

The £36m arena is backed by Harry Styles and the Abu Dhabi owners of Manchester City Football Club.