Wednesday, November 24 2021

With the return of live entertainment to the UAE after a period of pandemic-imposed dormancy, Dubai’s Coca-Cola Arena is stepping up efforts to become a key host venue for indoor sporting events.

Since opening in 2019, the City Walk monument has hosted rock concerts, comedy shows, an international classical music festival, Bollywood shows, basketball matches and much more.

From Maroon 5 and Maluma, to Wayne Brady and Russell Peters, to Paul van Dyke and Aly & Fila, to Tony Robbins and Alicia Keys, Coca-Cola Arena has quickly established itself as a popular venue that has hosted some of the biggest acts. . When it comes to sports, however, the arena is only just beginning.

After hosting the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) in October 2019, hosting the Ultimate Kricket Challenge behind closed doors in November 2020, and hosting a Vegas-style influence fight night dubbed the Social Knockout , in July, the arena will venture into the world of indoor tennis by presenting the Tie Break Tens series in Dubai on October 22, featuring fan favorite Gael Monfils and Britain’s No.1 Dan Evans.

Dubai is no stranger to hosting professional tennis events, but the experience of indoor tennis has yet to be fully realized with the majority taking place outdoors. If you’ve listened to the Laver Cup tennis action that took place this weekend at TD Garden in Boston, you’ll understand just how electric the atmosphere can get when watching the sport in an indoor arena.

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When the PBA arrived at Coca-Cola Arena two years ago, nearly 9,000 fans walked through the venue’s doors for two days to get a taste of the second most-watched basketball league on the planet. .

“It was amazing,” said Mark Jan Kar, general manager of Coca-Cola Arena. The National.

“It was a sport like nothing else, a kind of thrill and excitement, unpredictability; in the second game, there was a 3-point buzzer-beater to take the game into overtime and the crowd completely erupted. The joy, thrill, and passion for sports is completely different from a Bollywood concert or show or even a corporate event.

The Tie Break Tens will feature a series of fast-paced knockout tennis matches, with the winner leaving with a check for Dh500,000. Unique concept designed for television, Tie Break Tens first took place in 2015 at the Royal Albert Hall in London. It has toured in various cities since then and will make its Middle East debut next month.

The event was originally scheduled to be held in 2019; was postponed to 2020 and then pushed back again due to the coronavirus pandemic. The developer, Boqin Group, holds the UAE license for the centerpiece for three years.

“Our site agreement is one year, plus an option to continue for the next two years. We hope that the first event will be a great success and that we can then build a long-term partnership for the remainder of the three years, at a minimum, ”explained Kar.

“Obviously you’ve seen some of the big Grand Slam tournaments with their center courts having retractable roofs, there are European indoor tournaments, and I think the fact that the [Coca-Cola Arena] seats up to 17,000 people for a rock concert or indoor Bollywood show, the ambiance and acoustics of a live sporting event in the middle of Dubai is something that would not only excite tennis fans , but sports fans in general; just to see what it looks like and how it sounds.

“There is no wrong seat in the house, the way it will be positioned and designed.”

The inaugural Dubai Tie Break Tens will have between 3,500 and 5,000 spectators, thanks to a flexible design that allows organizers to adapt as needed. Kar says future editions can have up to 10,000 fans in attendance.

In terms of organizing professional tennis tournaments, the CCA is limited by the fact that it can only have one court for all matches. As a venue, it would be perfect for an event like the ATP or WTA Finals which would feature the top eight end-of-year players, competing over seven days on a single playing field.

The CCA also has the advantage of having access to the detailed plan of the ATP Finals which took place at the O2 Arena in London from 2009 to 2020. The O2 Arena is managed and owned by AEG, which is a subsidiary of ASM Global, the operator of CCA. .

“These decisions are made at government level through the Dubai Sports Council and DTCM. And if the opportunity presented itself, we would certainly be ready to host an ATP or WTA final. But from an arena’s perspective, we haven’t been involved in any of those conversations to date, ”Kar says.

There are, however, other major projects underway. Kar revealed that the site is looking at opportunities involving Russian and German league ice hockey matches, which are expected to be announced in the coming weeks.

“The Russian game will be a regular season game, the potential game for the German team will be during the Winter Olympics, so it will be an exhibition game, with the ultimate goal being for Dubai to receive a sports franchise team. whether it’s ice hockey or basketball, and Coca-Cola Arena has a primary tenant and houses that franchise, ”he added.

Pacquiao plays basketball at Coca-Cola Arena – in pictures

“We would like to be able to not only organize world exhibition games, but also work with leagues and franchise owners to have a franchise team, be it a basketball team. ball participating in the Europa League or ice hockey participating in the Russian Federation. league, or whatever it is.

“Dubai is well known for its hotels, beaches and hotel experiences, and we host some of the best sporting events in the world like the DP World Race to Dubai, the Meydan World Cup, the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, but we don’t have a team.

“I guess you can say to some extent that Godolphin is sort of the home team, but obviously horse racing. But in the traditional sense of a sports franchise team, on a personal note and behind the scenes, the ambition may be three to five years from now to have a team that represents Dubai competing in some of the best. leagues of the world.

Update: September 29, 2021, 5:29 am


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