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See also Millennium Dome

The O2 arena is a multi-purpose indoor arena located at the centre of The O2, a large entertainment complex on the Greenwich Peninsula in south-east London, England. It is the first American style arena in London. With a capacity of up to 20,000 depending on the event, it is one of the largest indoor arenas in Europe.

Background to the arena[]

Construction of the arena started in 2003 and finished in 2007. Due to the impossibility of using cranes inside the dome structure the arena's roof was constructed on the ground within the dome and then lifted. The arena building's structure was then built around the roof. The arena building, which houses the arena and the arena concourse, is independent from all other buildings in The O2 and houses all the arena's facilities. The whole arena building takes up 40% of the total dome structure.

The seating arrangement throughout the whole arena can be modified, similar to the Manchester Evening News Arena. The ground surface can also be changed between ice rink, basketball court, exhibition space, conference venue, private hire venue and concert venue.

The arena was built to reduce echoing which has previously been a problem in many London music venues. The sound manager for U2, Joe O'Herlihy, worked with acoustic engineers to introduce measures such as sound absorbing material on the arena roof and the bottom of strategically placed seats to reduce echoing.

Despite the O2 arena being open for only 7 months of the year, the venue sold over 1.2 million tickets in 2007 making it the 3rd most popular venue in the world for concerts and family shows narrowly behind the Manchester Evening News Arena (1.25 million) and Madison Square Garden in New York (1.23 million). In 2008 the O2 arena is expected to become the world's busiest venue taking the crown from Manchester's MEN Arena with sales of more than two million.

Musical events[]

Anschutz opened The O2 arena on June 23, 2007 with a free event for all of the building's employees billed as The O2 Premiere featuring Peter Kay, Tom Jones, Kaiser Chiefs and Basement Jaxx, with the show hosted by Dermot O'Leary. This was before the official reopening to the public and preceded a programme of events set to launch the venue over summer. Snow Patrol then played a concert to an audience made up of sponsors, local residents, local business employees and winners of an online competition. Bon Jovi played the first open-to-all concert at the arena on June 24, 2007.

The O2 arena became synonymous with major acts hosting significant residencies at the venue. This precedent was started by Prince's 21 nights at the venue and has since been followed by the Spice Girls performing 17 shows and Kylie Minogue scheduling 7 for July-August 2008. The Arena also played host to Led Zeppelin for a one-off concert on 10 December 2007. David Campbell, the president and chief executive of Anschutz Entertainment Group Europe, has confirmed that there will be "two big residencies booked for the fourth quarter of 2008". These are believed to be Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston.

In August 8, 2008 Tiësto became the first DJ to perform at The O2 Arena in London as part of his In Search of Sunrise 7 summer tour, which sold out with a capacity of 20,000 people. The event lasted for 5 hours with a 200m2 LED wall, a 200,000 watts sound system, and 300,000 more watts of lighting.

Tina Turner is scheduled to perform at the O2 on March 3rd, 4th, 7th, 8th, and 11th 2009. This will be the first time Tina has played the U.K. in nine years. Turner, who officially retired from live performance eight years ago, decided to tour again after performing at the Grammys with Beyoncé. "The response was overwhelming," she said. "Everywhere I went people were asking me when I was going back on tour again. So after a lot of thought and planning we announced an American tour. Now Europe beckons!" These dates are part of her Tina: Live in Concert Tour.

Thrash metal band Metallica played a special charity show at The O2 Arena to celebrate the release of their ninth studio album entitled Death Magnetic. This was Metallica's first UK arena show since 2003.

It was announced on November 1, 2008 that Britney Spears will play a two week stint at the arena during June 2009.

Christina Aguilera and Beyoncé will make their debuts at the arena during 2009.

The O2 will also play host to legendary Australian rockers AC/DC as they kick off the Black Ice World Tour United Kingdom leg with two dates at the arena. The shows sold out in under 10 minutes for each concert.

Other notable acts that have performed or are due to perform at the arena include Pink Floyd's Roger Waters, Metallica, Depeche Mode, Coldplay, Leonard Cohen, Tiësto, Queen + Paul Rodgers, Celine Dion, Rihanna, The Rolling Stones, Justin Timberlake, Keane, Avril Lavigne, My Chemical Romance, Foo Fighters, Madness, Snow Patrol, Andrea Bocelli, Bon Jovi, Linkin Park, The Eagles, Take That, Bruce Springsteen, Dolly Parton, Scissor Sisters, Kanye West, Smashing Pumpkins, 50 Cent, Boyzone, Alicia Keys, Westlife, Barbra Streisand, Neil Diamond, Tina Turner, Kylie Minogue, Shayne Ward, Carlos Santana, Backstreet Boys, Girls Aloud, Elton John, P!nk, New Kids on The Block and Nickelback. The arena also played host to the 2008 NME Big Gig (including The Cribs, The Klaxons, Bloc Party, Kaiser Chiefs and Manic Street Preachers). Delirium, the musical show of Cirque du Soleil gave its final performance at The O2.

Sports events[]

WWE at The O2 arena

The first sporting event to take place was the Commonwealth Boxing Lightweight Championships featuring Amir Khan on July 14, 2007. The arena has also hosted two National Hockey League contests, which started the 2007-08 NHL season, on 29 and September 30, both involving the Anschutz-owned Los Angeles Kings and their regional rivals from Southern California, the Anaheim Ducks.

An NBA exhibition match between the Boston Celtics and the Minnesota Timberwolves took place at the arena on October 10, 2007. The game sold out more than three months beforehand. The arena is expected to also host the Miami Heat and New Jersey Nets (NBA) pre-season games for the 2008-09 season. Just like the previous NBA exhibition game, Tickets for the game sold out three months beforehand.

The arena hosted the first ever Turbo Tennis Tournament on 15th September 2007 which was won by Andy Murray. From 2009 until 2012 it has been selected as the venue for the Tennis Masters Cup (to be renamed ATP World Tour Finals), and will be used for the 2009 World Gymnastics Championships.

WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment), have also used the O2 Arena to host its television shows Monday Night Raw, Friday Night Smackdown!, and ECW (Extreme Championship Wrestling). With the taping of Monday Night Raw and an episode of the now defunct Heat broadcast on Monday 14th April 2008, with Smackdown! and ECW being taped the following night, Tuesday April 15th. It has been announced that WWE are bringing the TV tapings back to the O2 next April, following a Smackdown! house show at the arena this November. Raw is slated to be taped Monday April 20th 2009, with Smackdown! and ECW the night after, Tuesday April 21st 2009.

During the 2012 Summer Olympic Games it is scheduled to be the venue for the artistic gymnastics, for which it will have a spectator capacity of 16,500, and for basketball finals, for which it will have a capacity of 20,000. Due to IOC sponsorship regulations, it will officially be known as North Greenwich Arena 1 during the games. The rest of the basketball competition will take place at one of the arenas in the Olympic Park, or possibly at the Wembley Arena. A 6,000 seat temporary venue called North Greenwich Arena 2 will be built nearby and will stage the badminton and rhythmic gymnastics events.

The arena has been mooted as a continued sports venue after the Olympics, and may host London Towers basketball games. There were also whisperings in 2002 of the London Knights ice hockey team relocating to the O2 following the closure of the Docklands arena. However no firm plans to host a sports team have been announced.

On February 21, 2009, the O2 Arena played host to UFC 95.

Other events[]

There are other events held inside the arena, which are not either musical or sports events. These include Disney On Ice and High School Musical On Ice. Other such events include Viva La Diva, Strictly Come Dancing live tour, Dancing on Ice tour, the New Years Event, and the Scouts Live '07 event. In June 2008, the London auditions for the fifth series of X Factor were filmed at the arena, as well as the Bootcamp segments been shot in the indigO2.

Special Ceremonies[]

The O2 Arena held the scouting event of the century, Live 07. This was a celebration of the centenary of Scouting. 3000 scouts took to the stage to celebrate the year's events through songs, challenges, dance and adventure along with the audience of over 20000 over two shows. Acts ranged from the Explorer-style 'Its a Knockout' (with a couragous few abseiling the 42 metres down from the roof), to a Beaver Rap, not forgetting the James Bond-style Network Mini adventure! Just about every scouting district took part in one way or participants ranging from gang show performers to Jamboree Opening Ceremony participants. Comperes included Chief Scout Peter Duncan, Blue Peter presenter Zoe Salmon, Newsround presenter Lizzie Greenwood.

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