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A London Venue to be proud of? The New Wembley Arena
Easy to Find . Great transport links . Good atmosphere and environment . Clean & Organised .
Ticket prices vary greatly . Expensive food and drink . Some seats can be awkward to see from .
Price of food & drink
Access by public transport
Availability/cleanliness of facilities
Value for money
Acoustics/Sound engineeringvery good
Quality of food & drinkaverage
Pricing of seatsaverage
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Many of us have been to sports events, gigs, concerts and shows, and a lot of the time we judge weather we should go on the quality of the venue its being held. I have been to a fair few of different multi-event arenas and venues around the country, but most of the shows I have been too have been at Wembley Arena, and after the four different types of event I have attended since it’s £35 million refurbishment, I feel its time to voice my thoughts on the new Wembley Arena.
The New Arena
It was originally built in 1934, and named the Empire Pool and renamed in 1978. In 2006 it was heavily refurbished as part of the regeneration of Wembley project. It has hosted Olympic sports, comedy shows, variety shows, music concerts, band gigs and many other sports events. There are entry gates all around the Arena, simply labelled as South, West, East and North. It has a maximum capacity of 12,500.
Getting There and Surrounding Areas
Situated on Engineers Way in Wembley, the rather inconspicuous white & grey Arena sits next to the unmistakable sight of its ‘Big Brother’, Wembley Stadium. So finding this venue is not hard, as there are many, many signposts scattered around the local area pointing to towards the two buildings. Travelling in by car is really not recommended given the amount of public transport links to the Wembley area, as the parking can and will cost you a fair bit, especially close to the venue. You can possibly find a free parking space of Wembley Park Drive, but go early, as these spaces do get taken up quickly. There is a nice small car park located at Station Grove behind Wembley Central Station, but this is a bit of a walk to the Arena. It is best to travel in by train, either to Wembley Stadium station or Wembley Park underground station. If you go in by the latter you will be treated to a walk down Wembley Way, facing the massive arch of the Stadium. This is my preferred choice for visiting the area, and I have never had problems or heavy delays. Make sure to do avoid the crowds and go ahead early, there are many bars and restaurants close by for you to have a bite to eat or a tipple to kill the time before the start of your chosen show.
Outside the Venue
Once you are there, the outside of the Arena is very nice, well signposted and kept clean of litter and graffiti. The design of the building is quite striking, albeit painted with a rather dull white/grey effect. At the front, (East Gate) there is the Square of Fame. Like the Hollywood namesake, you can find the hand prints in bronze plaques of famous acts who have performed at the Arena over the years. Most noticeable though, is the dancing fountains in the middle of the square. If you wish, you can run and play in these, but be prepared to get a little damp! Of course, visiting children do often hang around in this area for the fun of the fountains, so be aware of this. Apart from various merchandise stalls, there are food and drink stalls outside in this area too. I suggest you take advantage of these, because once your inside, the food and drink prices are rather expensive. Merchandise prices predictable remain the same. When the sun goes down, the paintwork of the building becomes apparent. Neon multi coloured lights reflect of the face of the building, creating a beautiful effect, and cameras are always clicking away at this sight if you come out of show to darkness. The fountains are also lit up with this effect, and it is all quite exciting and classy.
Inside the Venue
It’s very easy gaining entry to the Arena once you have found your correct gate, (read you ticket carefully) But the security staff are friendly and helpful to guide you if you do get a little lost. Once inside, depending on where you entered, there is plenty of space in the concourse areas, again littered with food and drink stalls. The prices at these are quite expensive though, so if you are hungry, make sure you have some spare cash. The walls are all white and grey again, but the feeling is comfortable and the signposting is clear and helpful, so you shouldn’t lose your way. There is an adequate amount of toilets, equally for both sexes, which are clean and well maintained. Finding your entrance to the arena floor is also easy, weather you are on the higher seats or on the ground. When inside, you get a great feeling of a well organised event, you only have to ask a friendly steward and they will show you to your seats. If you are at a sport type event, the floor is given away to the performers, while the crowd surrounds the area much like an amphitheatre, apart from the South side, as this is where the stage is. During a music event, you will face the South side of the Arena. Views are excellent, and you don’t feel you are that far away from the performers, the whole Arena is quite compact but doesn’t feel cramped and you never feel rushed or flustered. If seated, the seats have a lot of leg room and room for movement, you can even stand up and dance if you wish! If you are standing, obviously you will get a little pushed and hemmed in during big songs or finales, but if you choose to stand, I would assume you would be ready for this. The acoustics in the Arena are great, and you can feel every drum beat, high vocal, boot of a ball or punch line very clearly. During shows that expect a large turnout, big screens are erected on the stage walls, which, depending on the band, are bright, large and clear. The lighting effects can sometime be a little to much for your eyes, but again, this does depend on what you are watching. On my personal familiarity, watching the Masters Football at the Arena is a brilliant experience. The house lights are fully on during this, but don’t give you any glare or ‘spots’ in your eyes.
When your show is over, expect people to rush to get out. Personally, I am never in a rush to leave, I make plans for this in advance, and I would suggest you do the same. Although there is a lot of space in the concourse areas, they get crowed very quickly with everyone rushing to leave. They have large exit doors, which are placed at every other gate entrance for all the guests to leave quickly and calmly. These are only ever open at the end of the show, but I think are a good idea and work well. Outside, you have the square to entertain you of course, but also the police presence is noticeable but not too invading, again keeping with a good mood and atmosphere. Walking back to your train station, home, bus stop or car, there are many late fast food places and shops open in the local area if you wish to partake in these. The small off-licence in Empire Way (West side) gets crowed very quickly, normally selling out of bottle water!
In conclusion, this is a excellent venue! It looks not the most greatest of buildings to look at, and the refreshments are pricy, but everything else about it is flawless. Events are organised very professionally, carefully and coolly. The security staff are helpful and friendly, the surroundings provide entertainment and hotel facilities. At night the building transforms into a beautiful light and water show! The only thing you would really have to worry about is the quality of the show, that I couldn’t comment on, that’s your choice. Whatever you go to see, you will not be complaining about Wembley Arena. £35 million may be a tad too much, but is has made a British venue to be proud of! Enjoy yourself!
For more details and ticket information visit http://www.wembleyarena.co.uk/