Redeveloping the arena will be funded by ASM and the council. Credit: SCC

International venues giant to run Sheffield’s arena

ASM Global has been appointed to operate Utilita Arena Sheffield, starting from January 2025, as the council looks to maximise its leisure and entertainment estate.

Sheffield City Council last year announced a major investment into the arena and other publicly owned leisure assets, with £117m earmarked for the programme.

Utilita Arena is a 12,700-capacity venue, which first opened in 1991. Under its new management with ASM Global – the long-term operator of Manchester’s AO Arena, where a £50m facelift is close to completion – the venue will see significant investment into guest experience at every level, including hospitality and premium, the firm said.

Funding for the overhaul will be split between ASM and SCC.

SCC said that “we are incredibly proud of the Arena and the current partnership with Sheffield City Trust, but this new investment will allow the city to compete on a global scale”. An eight-month procurement exercise was carried out for the appointment.

The project will also entail improvements made around the venue’s hinterland, with more detail to be announced in due course.

Sheffield’s is the first UK arena to come to the market for tender in some time, and ASM Global now further expands its UK footprint – the firm also runs Wembley Arena, Utilita Arena Newcastle, Olympia London and York Barbican among others.

The senior management team and all Utilita Arena staff will move to ASM Global under TUPE regulations.

ASM Global is a heavyweight producer of entertainment experiences, venue management and event strategy, with a roster that includes the Davis Cup, Arena Cross, and international boxing matches, as well as tours from artists such as Elton John and Beyonce.

Utilita Arena Sheffield joins ASM Global’s network of more than 350 venues around the world, which collectively host 20,000 events and welcome 164m guests every year.

Chris Bray, president of ASM Global Europe said, “Sheffield is a city with a rich cultural heritage. It’s known and loved for producing some of the UK’s most exciting musical talent who’ve gone on to put Sheffield on the map on a global scale.

“With a history of being an events city, we are delighted to be working with the council to continue to bring major events to Sheffield. Our goal is to ensure the venue is a must-play for world-class artists, and that the content is diverse, exciting and world-leading. We have exciting plans for reimagining the customer experience, too, and are looking forward to getting better acquainted with the city very soon.”

Cllr Richard Williams, chair of the communities, parks and leisure committee at SCC said, “I am really pleased to welcome ASM Global onboard as the new operators of Sheffield Arena, this is a major step forward in our ambitious plan for the city and entertainment facilities. Though we are incredibly proud of the Arena and our current partnership with Sheffield City Trust, this new investment will allow us to compete on a global scale.”

The venue is home to Sheffield ice hockey team, the Steelers, and has this year hosted the MOBO Awards, with Peter Kay, Take That and Girls Aloud to come.

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