Delegates at Stadia & Arena 2013 in Istanbul went on a behind the scenes tour as part of the opening reception, in which Ulker Sports Arena insiders revealed some of the secrets of its successful first year. AEG staff explained the inner workings while those involved in its development held presentations.
Don Dethlefs from sports architect Sink Combs Dethlefs explained the arena’s flexibility:
The arena can curtain off the upper tier for more intimate shows with about 6,000-7,000 capacity. They can stage a 360 degree or 270 degree concert. A half-house divides the floor and is suitable for theatrical events. We worked with the Turkish engineer to get a roof truss that can hold 70 tonnes of equipment, enough for the biggest shows.
We designed the bowl for European basketball where the seats have to be further back. In the States we put them right up to the court. But here we raised the first tier up so that three rows can be added in front for NBA basketball while retaining great sightlines. We designed the locker and changing rooms, working with AEG, to accommodate smaller events as well as the larger.
DDG’s Jim Andreone painted the bigger picture. Based on the arena’s ability to stage many different types of events, it will become the anchor for the Alpella Youth City.
It’s an arena-anchored lifestyle city. The O2 in London and Staples Center and O2 World Berlin are precursors of this project but don’t have true retail. There will be an open air events plaza, 240-room hotel. Lifestyle normally means half of the mix is restaurants and cinemas.
To make that work, you need 200 events per year to get enough people to come to the arena zone. You also need a lot of space and Madison Square Gardens teaches us about underground parking – there are two levels here – and getting a lot of people in and out.
Andreone noted the 2,000 capacity training arena and the ability to hold two events simultaneously (recently a concert at the arena and a women’s basketball playoff at the mini arena) to bring the necessary numbers. Ulker Group is planning the correct programme mix before beginning construction.
Various companies who have contributed to Ulker Arena, from seating (all upholstered except for the retractable bleachers at one end), to incident management software to the removable court (turned over 27 times since opening), also made presentations.
AEG has filled the arena, which provides an eastern leg for major tours around Europe, with top concert acts and family shows to complement its basketball sport tenant.