Barclaycard Arena Debuts Flexible B1 Space

Change will allow for intimate format options

  • by Lisa White
  • Published: March 7, 2017

The new B1 space at Barclaycard Arena, Birmingham, UK.

The Barclaycard Arena in Birmingham, UK, has launched B1, a new intimate layout, to attract smaller events.

The venue pioneered the reduced capacity arena concept in 2004. Since then, Barclaycard Arena has seen increased competition entering the marketplace.

“We reviewed the market, and there is a gap between smaller venues and arena level venues,” said Guy Dunstan, general manager of Barclaycard Arena. “About 15 years ago, we launched the Academy format, which bridges this gap. We recently did another review of the marketplace, and B1 was the result.”

Based on feedback from promoters and clients, the new option gives a greater degree of choice, control and affordability. This layout can be flexed in either direction from 2,500 up to 5,000 capacities, for a standing or seated audience. 

“The Academy concept we introduced proved extremely popular, so much so, that over the last decade many other venues have adopted our original approach,” said Charlotte Smith, the arena’s sales manager.

The focus of B1 is on creating a theatre environment within the arena. This will be accomplished by bringing the stage into the front row seating tier and addressing the high roof line using lighting and objects to draw the eye line down. The arena’s in-house team will perform the turnaround with rigging and staging. Dunstan says the turnaround can be accomplished overnight.

“We developed the B1 brand to create another identity, so when people book the venue, the format will create the perception of a theatre,” said Dunstan. “The key is to maximize the venue.” In terms of the rental, the entry level rate will be in line with smaller venues to attract the same level of business.

Situated in the heart of the UK in Birmingham’s city centre, B1 is named to reflect the venue’s postcode. 

“The Midlands is the strongest entertainment market outside of London,” said Smith. “What makes us different from the traditional academy venues is that we can integrate the facilities of a world-class arena with an intimate design, giving artists and promoters the flexibility to scale a show up or down to suit their needs.”

“They are not limited to the one layout option, and this can be altered at any point before their event,” she said. “Having fully flexible formats are key in this industry, so the greater the layout and package options we can provide for our customers, the greater the chance of them booking with us and maximizing our programming schedule.” 

The arena also will offer a plug-and-play option that takes care of the artists’ production needs, and has installed a new private artist tunnel that enables direct movement between the dressing room and stage to maintain the intimate feel of the venue. In addition, the inclusive event package covers rigging, security, ticketing and event marketing support.

“We identified a gap in the market for an event space between theatre and arena level, so we have created a modern, alternative space that will cater for this market demand,” said Smith. “We have seen a steady increase in interest compared to 2016. We’ve also witnessed a potential area of growth in the theatre, comedy and corporate genres.”

“The arena is already doing 150 performances per year, but we’re getting a good level of interest from clients with the new smaller format,” said Dunstan. 



  • by Lisa White
  • Published: March 7, 2017