March 24, 2011 | Venues Today
The newest entry in the modernization of European arenas, the Lyon/Villeurbanne Arena in France, is projected to open in 2014. The privately financed arena, being built on public land, will host the professional basketball games of ASVEL Basket Lyon-Villeurbanne, which is owned by Gones and Sports which also owns Societe de Projet Salle Multifoction (SPSM), S.A.S., the entity developing the arena.
Marshall Glickman, principal, G2 Strategies, is senior advisor to SPSM and helped bring Global Spectrum Europe to the project. A consultant deal with GSE, a joint venture between NEC and Global Spectrum, was announced March 10. The agreement anticipates it will turn into a longterm management deal when the arena opens, Glickman said.
Neither the price nor the architect have been revealed locally, Glickman said. More announcements are pending by May. He did say the arena will be designed to host anything from a 1,500-seat theater set up to north of 14,500 for a concert.
“One of the cool features is that it is very flexible,” Glickman said. He noted the 1,500-seat set up is not just curtained, but set up in “a convincing way.”
“The developer is associated with the holding company of the basketball team here, ASVEL,” Glickman said. “One of their shareholders is Tony Parker, the NBA player.” The project started five years ago but died out due to political and economic issues, he said. It was recently revved up again and Glickman came on board to organize the development team.
They interviewed all the usual suspects for a management deal, Glickman said, and settled on Global Spectrum Europe because “this company is the right company. We like the joint venture they have with NEC. We like the guys that are based here – people in Amsterdam and in Birmingham in the U.K. They are all very much at the table. They are an ideal service provider. And we like the fact they are not a promoter; they are promoter neutral. They are more than happy to do business with anybody.”
“We feel that one of the advantages of Global is that they are not in the business of owning content but they are in the business of working with all content providers.”
Glickman thinks the 2014 opening date is reachable. “The city has the land and the relationship with the city is strong – not consummated but close,” he said. There is about 18 months of work before financing is complete.
Mich Sauers, senior VP of business development for Comcast-Spectacor, parent company to Global Spectrum, noted this is GSE’s first foray into Europe apart from NEC managed venues and it is the first modern, state-of-the-art arena being built in France. When U.S.-based shows like WWE and Feld Entertainment go to France, they play 5,000-6,000 seat Zenith facilities, arenas which were built by the French government years ago. Most cities have one, Sauers said. This new arena will be an alternative for some of the touring shows and, in speaking with potential tenants, the response has been very positive, he added.
“France is the second largest market in Europe for WWE,” Sauers noted. “All the shows do well here.”
Glickman explained the lay of the land. The arena is being built in the Rhone-Alps region, inside of which is the Grand Lyon region, inside of which is Lyon, which is next door to Villeurbanne, thus it is the Lyon/Villeurbanne Arena.
“It’s clearly, from a quality and functionality perspective, on par with the best American arenas,” Glickman said of the plans. “It’s sized appropriately for the market.”
The pro forma anticipates 150 events annually, of which about 35 would be basketball. They will also host some hockey games for a local team that currently plays in a 3,000-seat arena.
“It will be a very busy building. It will be one of handful of buildings in Europe that reach high standards. Most of the money in venue infrastructure in Europe is soccer, so this is a pretty big move forward,” Glickman said.
In keeping with trends worldwide, the arena will anchor a broader mixed-use development that will include a public plaza, team practice facilities, a public cultural and sports hall and links to nearby transit. — Linda Deckard
Interviewed for this story: Marshall Glickman, (541) 633-7088; Mich Sauers, (727) 456-1171