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The London Arena (also known as London Docklands Arena) was an indoor arena and exhibition centre in Millwall, close to Cubitt Town area of Poplar, on the Isle of Dogs, in east London, England which was inaugurated in 1989 and demolished for housing in 2006. Seating capacity was up to 15,000, depending on the type of event held. It was the home of the London Knights ice hockey team, the London Towers basketball team and later the Greater London Leopards basketball team.
London Docklands Arena
The London Arena, seen before demolition
|Location||Millwall, London, England|
|London Knights (BSIL, 1998–2003)|
London Towers (BBL, 1989–1990)
Greater London Leopards (BBL, 1994–1999)
First opened in 1989, the arena was built on the grounds of a former harbour warehouse at Millwall Inner Dock as part of the redevelopment of the Docklands area, which was developed from a harbour and industrial area to a trade and residential one.
The arena could seat up to 12,500 people in the stands and up to 15,000 in concert mode. Events ranged from sport events like basketball, ice hockey, wrestling and boxing to music concerts and trade exhibitions.
Spectacor Management Group (SMG), the world's largest private facility management company, took over ownership of the London Arena in 1994. The company manages arenas and stadiums in the US and Europe, including the Louisiana Superdome, the Mile High Stadium in Denver and the Ullevaal Stadium in Oslo. During 1998, SMG entered into a partnership agreement with another American based company, Anschutz Sports Holdings, to hold an equal share in the ownership of London Arena.
The arena got a £10 million refit in 1998, allowing the capacity of the arena to be altered hydraulically. One of the primary reasons for the refit by joint owners, Anschutz Entertainment Group, was to introduce professional ice hockey back to London with the London Knights. Along with this, the brief given to architects, HOK Sport, was to turn the arena into a major multi-entertainment centre. This involved introducing a permanent Olympic-size ice rink, 48 luxury hospitality boxes with views over the arena, two brand new team dressing rooms, a completely refurbished foyer and box office, plus a state-of-the-art SACO SmartVision video scoreboard, the only one of its kind outside the US.
However, the arena continued to struggle to attract enough visitors and events to be profitable and it never managed to become a financial success. One reason for this was its rather isolated geographical position, combined with poor local road and public transport access and limited parking space, although it was well served by the Crossharbour and London Arena DLR station. However, on days when events were held at the arena, it was not uncommon for the small station to be severely overcrowded.
Sale, closure and demolitionEdit
In 2003, the arena was sold, which, combined with the disbanding of the Ice Hockey Superleague, led to the folding of the London Knights, the only tenant at the arena at the time, leaving the arena without a permanent tenant, which made the situation worse.
The arena was demolished in June 2006 and has since been replaced by a mostly-residential development, including the Baltimore Tower. In 2007, the Crossharbour and London Arena DLR station was renamed to simply Crossharbour. However, the London Arena name still remains on a few street signs in the area.
On 18 November 1989, the Arenaball Transatlantic Challenge, the first ever Arena Football League exhibition game in Europe, was played there, with the Detroit Drive winning over the Chicago Bruisers 43–14.
In 1991, the Docklands Arena hosted the Great British Beer Festival.
In December 2005, it housed the annual 'Crisis Open Christmas' event (held the previous year in the Millennium Dome) providing food, accommodation and various medical and social services to homeless people in London, organized by the London-based homelessness charity Crisis.
|Duran Duran||22 April 1989||1988–1989 The Big Live Thing||The first band to play at the London Arena.|
|Pink Floyd||4–9 July 1989||Another Lapse Tour|
|Erasure||11 December 1989||Wild! Tour||A recording of the concert was released on VHS.|
|David Bowie||26–28 March 1990||Sound+Vision Tour|
|Frank Sinatra||4–8 July 1990||With the Woody Herman Orchestra conducted by Frank Sinatra Junior.|
|Janet Jackson||8 April 1995||Janet World Tour||The first of four sold-out shows held in London, with the other three held at Wembley Stadium.|
|Simply Red||2–5 February 1996|||
|Eurythmics||6 December 1999||peacetour||Recorded for DVD named after the tour, released in 2000.|
|Eminem (with D12)||9–10 February 2001||Anger Management Tour|
|Deftones||24 March 2001||Back To School Tour||With support from Linkin Park and Taproot|
|Linkin Park||16 September 2001||Hybrid Theory World Tour||Audio recordings of their performances of "Papercut", "Points of Authority", "A Place for My Head", "With You" and "High Voltage" were released on the 20th anniversary reissue of Hybrid Theory.|
|Slipknot||16 February 2002||European Iowa Tour 2K2||The concert was recorded and released as a live DVD called Disasterpieces.|
|S Club 7||23–24 February 2002||S Club Carnival Tour||A recording of the concert was released on VHS/DVD in late 2002.|
|Bob Dylan||12 May 2002||Love And Theft|
|Guns N' Roses||26 August 2002||Chinese Democracy Tour|
|Will Young and Gareth Gates||3 October 2002||Will and Gareth Tour (with special guest Zoe Birkett)||Dual billed concert from the stars of Pop Idol, recorded for VHS/DVD release in early 2003.|
|Westlife||17 April 2003||Unbreakable Tour|
|Justin Timberlake||17–20 May 2003||Justified World Tour|
In popular cultureEdit
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The arena was often seen in the BBC TV series Bugs that was largely filmed on the Isle of Dogs between 1994 and 1997.
- "Sports Venue Technology - London Arena - United Kingdom". 28 November 2006. Archived from the original on 28 November 2006. Retrieved 24 March 2019.
- Crosse, Simon (27 March 2003). "Ice Hockey: Knights' future in doubt". Retrieved 24 March 2019 – via www.telegraph.co.uk.
- Wong, Glenn M. (8 March 2012). The Comprehensive Guide to Careers in Sports. Jones & Bartlett Publishers. ISBN 9781449602031.
- "BRIT Awards Setlists". setlist.fm. Retrieved 24 March 2019.
- "Smash Hits Poll Winners Party Setlists". setlist.fm. Retrieved 24 March 2019.
- "Deconstruction Setlists". setlist.fm. Retrieved 24 March 2019.
- "Duran Duran » DURAN DURAN Complete Tour List". Retrieved 24 March 2019.
- "Simply Red | 1996". www.simplyred.com. Retrieved 8 January 2020.