Backstage Pass: Arena punching above its weight for global megastars

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What a week! Times are always busy at the Leeds First Direct Arena, but last week was exceptional.

Tuesday was a unique day. A hundred volunteers visited the arena for what was billed as a special tour. When they arrived they were all given cards detailing a fake injury they had to pretend they had. We then led them into the seating area. The West Yorkshire Fire Service set off smoke effects and activated a full emergency. Alarms rang, ambulances arrived and our team got to action evacuating the fake casualties. It was a really useful exercise. Safety is our number one priority and by making it as realistic as possible we were able to test our procedures effectively.

Wednesday saw Matchroom Boxing holding their first fight night at the arena in front of the crowds. The atmosphere was outstanding and local boxer Josh Warrington was triumphant, adding the BritishFeatherweight to his Commonwealth Title. The arena was designed for boxing with short viewing distances and a great natural atmosphere. We look forward to holding big fight nights in the coming months and hopefully welcoming back Josh!

When it comes to big names, they don’t come much bigger than Prince. On a show day, the artist takes over and brings in their own stage show, lighting and sound. Our team work with the tour to make sure they’re able to get in on time.

So, after weeks of planning, in the early hours of Friday morning, a dozen trucks arrived with everything from speakers to bags of purple rain confetti. A massive stage was built ready for the funk icon. At 8.30pm that night, Prince uttered the words “Hello Leeds” and commenced a blistering set. On Saturday, we welcomed 5,000 Tour de France Tour Makers for their first big training session. We’re all really proud to be working with the team at Welcome to Yorkshire. The Tour de France is going to make such a big impact to the city, and from helping to train the volunteers to what is going to be the most spectacular team presentation ceremony ever on July 3 it’s great to be at the centre of a global sporting event.

After a long weekend to recover, we’ve announced two great rock acts this week that will be visiting the arena soon. Guitar legend Slash and the The Australian Pink Floyd Show have both announced dates, and tickets for both go on sale this Friday. Rock on Leeds.

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