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Wembley Arena
Wembley Arena.jpg
Wembley Arena
Former names Empire Pool (1934–1978)
Location Wembley, London, UK
Coordinates 51°33′29.10″N 0°16′58.70″W / 51.558083°N 0.282972°W / 51.558083; -0.282972
Opened 1934
Renovated 2005–2006
Owner Quintain Estates and Development plc
Capacity 12,500

Wembley Arena is an indoor arena in Wembley, London, UK. The building is opposite Wembley Stadium. It was built for the 1934 Empire Games by Sir Arthur Elvin, and originally housed a swimming pool, as reflected by its former name, the Empire Pool. The pool itself was last used for the 1948 Summer Olympics. The building is used for music, comedy and family entertainment, and for sport. Music predominates, as the arena doesn't currently have a tenant sports team.

Wembley Arena was renovated along with Wembley Stadium as part of the regeneration of the Wembley area. The Arena refurbishment cost £35m and the new arena opened to the public on 2 April 2006 with a concert by Depeche Mode. With 12,500 seats it is London's second largest indoor arena after the The O2 arena and third largest indoor concert venue after the O2 and Earls Court One, an exhibition hall which regularly stages concerts.



A notable attendance record was set in the early 1970s by the performer David Cassidy, in his first tour of Great Britain in 1973 when he sold out six performances in one weekend. ABBA also played six sold out concerts in one week in 1979, and one song from these concerts - "The Way Old Friends Do" - is on their album Super Trouper. Pearl Jam hold the attendance record for one show, with 12,470 fans at their 2007 gig.[citation needed] Pop band Busted sold out shows at the arena a record 11 times in one year, in 2004.[citation needed]

Kylie Minogue brought her 1990 Enjoy Yourself tour to a sold out arena and in 1991 she repeated her success with 2 sold out dates for her Let's Get to It Tour. In 2002 for her KylieFever2002 tour she sold out 4 nights in a row at the venue and did seven sold out in 2006 and 2007 for her Showgirl: The Homecoming Tour.

Cliff Richard holds the record for the most headline shows by one artist, and will play his sixty first concert in the Arena in October 2009. Tina Turner is the female artist with the most shows at Wembley, with 26 and with 7 at Wembley Stadium. Westlife are the best selling pop band, having played 27 headline shows at the venue, and Status Quo played their 43rd Wembley Arena show in December 2009.

Taylor Swift brought her Fearless Tour to the UK, her first major UK date was at the Arena. Swift sold out the arena, telling her fans in the early stages of the concert. Swift was then later greeted with a 10 minute ovation from the crowd after singing "Tim McGraw"

Artists that have played the "new" venue include Backstreet Boys, Googoosh, Beyoncé , Arctic Monkeys, Jean Michel Jarre, Limp Bizkit, The Cure,Kiss, Nickelback, The Corrs, The Spice Girls, Kylie Minogue, Elbow, ABBA, Bon Jovi, Billy Joel, Avril Lavigne, Cher, Neil Diamond, Gloria Estefan, Ozzy Osbourne, Pearl Jam, Sir Cliff Richard, The Eagles, Roxette, Diana Ross, Céline Dion, Anastacia, Girls Aloud, Status Quo, Il Divo, Placebo, Led Zeppelin, Queen, Meat Loaf, Tarkan, Westlife, Pink, Elkie Brooks, Page and Plant, Guns N' Roses , Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Queen + Paul Rodgers, AC/DC, McFly, Judas Priest, Dave Matthews Band, Santana, Busted, Hard-Fi, Bruce Springsteen, Pussycat Dolls, Craig David, Mariah Carey, My Chemical Romance, Rush,James Morrison, Dream Theater, Symphony X, The Offspring, Robert Plant, Gwen Stefani, Muse, Gurdas Mann, Dire Straits, Madonna, Jonas Brothers, Taylor Swift, B.B King, Oasis, Foo Fighters, Fleetwood Mac, UTC, Fall Out Boy, Green Day, Spinal Tap, Rammstein and Paramore

Simple Minds and Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark reunite in the Wembley Arena on 7 December 2010, and Paramore and Brand New played their largest UK headlining gigs in December 2009 and January 2010 respectively. Kelly Clarkson and 30 Seconds To Mars are also set to play there in February 2010. KISS will be playing there in May 2010, part of their Sonic Boom over Europe tour. In January 2010 it was announced that Grammy Award-winning guitarist and singer/songwriter John Mayer would be playing a concert at Wembley Arena in May 2010. The concert sold out in just a couple of hours so another date was added. Mayer will now be playing 2 dates at Wembley Arena, the biggest venue he has played in the UK so far.


Indoor sporting events such as boxing, MMA and ice hockey have long been popular at the Arena, notably the World Championship bout between then champion Alan Minter and challenger Marvin Hagler, which the latter won. The Wembley Lions and Wembley Monarchs were two ice hockey teams that used the venue during the 1940s, 50s and 60s, while the London Lions used the venue for a season in the 1970s. Wembley also hosted the British Hockey League play-off finals weekend at the end of each season up until the league's disbandment in 1996. More recently netball, darts, basketball, five-aside football, cage fighting and The Masters of snooker have made regular appearances on the calendar. It hosted the final of the Whyte and Mackay Premier League Darts 2009 where James Wade triumphed against Mervyn King, who beat Phil Taylor in the semi-finals as he failed to successfully defend his 4 titles.

The Horse of the Year Show was held there from 1959-2002.

Other entertainments

The Arena also hosts comedy nights, with comedians such as Eddie Izzard, Bill Bailey, David Baddiel and Michael McIntyre having appeared. Baddiel's appearance alongside Rob Newman in 1993 is widely regarded as being responsible for bringing alternative comedy into the mainstream. Lee Evans has played Wembley eight times while Ricky Gervais is booked to appear in 2010

In addition, Wembley Arena is also famous for its ice shows, including Holiday on Ice, Disney on Ice and the ice pantomimes which ran every Christmas at the Empire Pool from the Fifties to 1978.

World Wrestling Entertainment taped their TV shows RAW and SmackDown!, with RAW on 21 April and SmackDown! on 22 April 2006. Both shows were a huge success resulting in a sellout for each. WWE returned to the arena on October 16 2007 with the RAW Survivor Series 2007 Tour. It is also notable that the Insurrextion event in 2002 was the last Pay-per-view to be produced under the 'World Wrestling Federation' name.[citation needed]

Total Nonstop Action Wrestling held the final night of their UK Maximum iMPACT! Tour, on Saturday 24 January 2009, inside the Wembley Arena. On this night, the company set an all-time TNA attendance record of 8,100 fans.[1]

Square of Fame

Wembley Arena Evening 172XS Web.jpg

With the reopening of Wembley Arena in 2006, a "Square of Fame" area has been created in front of the arena. Similar to the Hollywood Walk of Fame, notable Wembley Arena performers are invited to have bronze plaques imprinted with their names and handprints. The first star to have a plaque was Madonna on 1 August 2006.[2]

On 9 November 2006 Sir Cliff Richard added his handprints to the Square. Rick Parfitt and Francis Rossi of Status Quo unveiled a plaque with one of each of their handprints on 16 December 2006. On 9 January 2007 Kylie Minogue included her handprints on the final day of the London leg of her Showgirl Homecoming Tour.

Seven time World Snooker Champion Stephen Hendry added his handprints on 21 January 2007. International country superstar Dolly Parton unveiled her plaque on the final night of her UK tour on 25 March 2007.

Canadian music star Bryan Adams unveiled his plaque on 10 May 2007, just before his 25th appearance at the venue. Just three days later, the former Commodores frontman Lionel Richie was presented with his plaque on 13 May 2007, after another sold out performance at the Arena.

Members of the Irish boyband Westlife unveiled their plaque on 28 March 2008 in the Square of Fame after 27 sell out shows in the space of 10 years. They have sold 250,000 tickets in Wembley Arena. All four members Shane Filan, Nicky Byrne, Kian Egan and Mark Feehily were presented with a cast of their hands which can also be seen in the Square of Fame.[citation needed]


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