Inside Arena Ciudad de Mexico

It took 44 years for Mexico City to acquire a new arena, but in its first year of operation, Arena Ciudad de Mexico has proven the wait was not in vain.

“Five years ago, we had a dream to improve the venue experience for Mexico City’s 20 million residents,” said Eliud Treviño, marketing manager for Zignia Live, which operates the arena. “The Sports Palace Dome, was built in 1968 for the Olympics, is not suited for shows a venue of this size should accommodate and doesn’t include parking, which was a major element of the new arena.”

This is because Arena Ciudad de Mexico is the first city venue to offer on-site parking that suits the number of attendees the facility can hold.

“The requirements of the new building included a parking lot, because the available spaces at the city’s other venues are inadequate,” Treviño said.

The 22,400-seat venue is situated on 19 acres in Azcapotzalco that was formerly the Old Ferreria Cattle Ranch. It is located north of the city in Avenida de las Granjas, close to Metro Ferrería Station, ‘Fortuna’ station of the Suburban Railway and next to TecMilenio University.

“The neighbors were skeptical about the project in the beginning, but after we held meetings and explained the benefits of the new arena, there have been no issues,” said Alejandro García, general manager for Arena Ciudad de Mexico, in addition to Zignia Live’s other two venues, the 17,599-seat Arena Monterrey and Expo Tampico, a 9,700-square-foot conference center.

Construction of the $400-million arena began in April 2009, and it officially opened on Feb. 25 of last year.

“The facility was partially financed by preselling its luxury suites,” said García. Ninety percent of the arena’s 124 suites were sold prior to completion.

The biggest challenge for design architects KMD and AVALANZ Group, along with construction companies Grupo Garza Ponce, Corey and ADIPPSA, was the mounting of large steel structures that would hold up the roof. The venue includes a roof rack that can support up to 200 tons and four 250-kw generators on the roof in the event of power disruptions.

“This was the most complicated part of the construction,” said García.

The majority of the time and money for this project was spent on raising the roof over the seven-floor venue, which includes three levels of suites. For the construction, 5,000 tons of structural steel, 25,000 tons of reinforced steel and 100,000 cubic meters of concrete were used.
Along with an acoustical treatment of the arena’s roof and walls, the floor inside the building has an epoxy preparation, which bears different temperatures and can be adapted to all different types of show requirements. The floor can be modified to include ice, sand, tennis courts and boxing rings.

The 485-foot-high structure also includes two heliports and a parking lot that can accommodate 5,000 cars.

Other design elements of the venue include a loading dock with hydraulic ramps that offers easy load in and can accommodate 19 53-foot trailers, in addition to five access doors for the general public.

On Nov. 17, 2010, an event took place in the early construction of the arena, which was called ‘300 days’. This was head of AVALANZ Guillermo Salinas Pliego’s attempt to finish the project in less than a year’s time.

Although this ambitious timeline had been reached before with the building of Arena Monterrey, which was completed in nine months, the size and complexity of Arena Ciudad de Mexico required a longer construction period.

Arena Ciudad de Mexico was designed with the characteristics of a typical multifunctional arena to accommodate a variety of events, including concerts, family shows and sporting events.
There also was an emphasis on the venue’s technology, which was provided by Daktronics of Brookings, S.D. This includes 850 LCD screens, an outdoor LED screen, which has an area of more than 66,700 square feet, and a center-hung, 7,500-square-foot indoor screen.

“The LED screens are the largest in the world for an arena,” said García. There also are two digital LED rings measuring close to 1,500 feet. Security is bolstered by 650 cameras in and around the venue.

The foodservice is handled in-house and includes 24 food and beverage areas, in addition to 37 concession stands. Offerings include hot dogs, tacos, pizza, sushi, popcorn, soda, beer, whiskey and rum.

In addition to parking, the city’s other venues tend to fall short on offering an adequate number of restrooms.

“We made sure that this arena offers enough bathroom facilities for all of its visitors,” Treviño said.

Arena Ciudad de Mexico currently has almost a dozen sponsors, including Coca-Cola; Heineken; Banco de Mexico; Elektra, an electronics and furniture company; Barcel, a snack chips manufacturer; and meat supplier Qualtia Alimentos.

A day before the official opening, Mexico City Mayor Marcelo Ebrard unveiled the arena’s inauguration plaque and spoke about the benefits of the arena. This included the development of Azcapotzalco and creation of more than 2,000 permanent jobs.

Hiring began a year prior to the arena’s opening, which gave staff ample time for training.
“Right now, we have a staff of almost 150 people working at the arena daily,” said García. “During events, there are close to 2,000 people working at the arena in different capacities. It’s like a little city at each show.”

Arena Ciudad de Mexico’s grand opening on Feb. 25 was attended by 15,000 people, including local government and business representatives. The kick-off featured popular Mexican performer Luis Miguel, who performed to a sold-out audience.

Zignia Live partnered with Chicago’s Feld Entertainment to bring Disney on Ice, Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus, Nuclear Cowboyz and Advance Auto Parts Monster Jam to the arena in its inaugural year and the shows will continue in subsequent years.

“The consensus was everyone was happy with the work and efforts made to finish the venue,” Treviño said.

A testament to Arena Ciudad de Mexico was its being honored with the Premio Iberoamericana CIDI award for its “Emblematic Construction in the Entertainment Category” on June 28, 2012. This meant that Mexico’s newest entertainment venue stood out among 20 other Latin American countries, three European countries and the Philippines.

In terms of comfort and service, the entertainment venue marks a new era for Mexico City and its residents.

“The arena was conceived for the city’s needs,” Treviño said.

Interviewed for this story: Alejandro García, (81) 8126 2100; Eliud Treviño, 1515-4100