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MEO Arena (originally, and still popularly referred to as Pavilhão Atlântico)[1] is a multi-purpose indoor arena in Lisbon, Portugal. The Arena is among the largest indoor arenas in the European Union and the largest in Portugal with a capacity of 20,000 people and was built in 1998 for Expo '98. It is named after its main sponsor, MEO.

MEO Arena
Pavilhão Atlântico - dynamosquito.jpg
Former names Pavilhão da Utopia (1998)
Pavilhão Atlântico (1998-2013)
Location Rossio dos Olivais, 1990-231 Lisbon, Portugal
Coordinates 38°46′6.79″N 9°5′38.45″W / 38.7685528°N 9.0940139°W / 38.7685528; -9.0940139
Public transit Gare do Oriente (Comboios de Portugal)
 Linha Vermelha  at Oriente (Lisbon Metro)
Owner Arena Atlântico S.A.
Operator Arena Atlântico S.A.
Capacity 20,000
Built 1996–1998
Opened 1998
Construction cost 55 million
Architect Regino Cruz (Skidmore, Owings & Merrill)



Plans to build a multipurpose arena in Lisbon date back to the first discussions of the Expo '98 Master Plan. At the time, the city lacked a versatile facility able to accommodate concerts, congresses and sporting events of big scope. The existing structures, both in Lisbon and in Portugal alike, either had limited capacity (up to 4,000 people), or were difficult to adapt to non-conventional events, such as world class indoor sports competitions. Another shortcoming of existing venues was the lack of technical infrastructure deemed necessary to host modern concerts, musicals and to allow for proper live TV coverage.

The country needed an arena to fill the existing gap between smaller indoor halls, like the Lisbon Coliseum, and open-air stadia. As a consequence, Portugal would not host games of important indoor sports championships and no major concerts would take place in the country in periods of cold and rainy weather.

The decision to build the Pavilhão Atlântico within the masterplan of Expo 98 allowed the arena to have a catchment area well beyond the city of Lisbon. Being a short distance from Gare do Oriente and several major highway interchanges, allows the arena to draw spectators from all over the country.


North side view of the arena in 2014

The building was designed by Portuguese architect Regino Cruz, who is the author of several government and office buildings in Brazil and in Portugal, in association with Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM). SOM has been awarded first prize in the contests for the Olympic stadiums of Manchester and Berlin, and is responsible for designing many big sporting pavilions in the US (Portland, Philadelphia, Oakland and Minneapolis). The studio is also a co-designer of the Vasco da Gama Tower, located at the northern end of the Parque das Nações in Lisbon. The shape of the MEO Arena is reminiscent of a large flying-saucer or horseshoe crab. Such a unique shape demanded out-of-the box thinking for its underpinnings, both for structural and symbolic reasons. The roof, for example, sits atop a wood grid, designed in the shape of a carrack. Being part of a world expo celebrating the world's oceans and 15th-century Portuguese discoveries, wood was considered more fitting than either concrete or steel.

The main goals of the design were: 1) Minimize the visual impact generated from such a big structure; 2) rational energy use; and 3) simplify the flow of spectators in and out of the building.

The main façade is oriented towards the south, which increases sun exposure during the colder winter months, at the same time preventing direct sunlight in the summer months. This exposure allows the reduction of heating and air conditioning costs, while at the same time natural ventilation outlets on top of the building provide air circulation and cooling. By placing the main floor 6.4 metres below ground level the architects allowed for a generously high roof, while at the same time reducing the external footprint and minimizing heat exchange (as a result of the smaller surface area exposed to the weather). The external glass façade is shaded by overhanging panels, designed to allow sunlight only during winter months. A system of external moving blinds further allows natural lighting to enter the pavilion.

Accessibility is also straightforward by means of a short stadium-seating-like external staircase that surrounds the entire building.


During EXPO'98, the building was called the Pavilion of Utopia and housed the spectacle "Oceans and Utopias".

The EXPO'98 theme was "Knowledge of the Seas or of the Future", and while other expositions approached the "ocean" themes from artistic, scientific or historical perspective, at the Utopian Pavilion, the designers took a symbolic, dreamlike, and/or magical approach to the exhibits. As such, during the 132 days of the exposition, the Pavilion was an open space to showcase works of imagination, reflecting the fears, myths and legends that throughout history, have been associated with the World's oceans. Visitors were awarded with sights of Daedalus, Greek Gods, mythical heroes such as Hercules, as well as colorful displays portraying the birth of mankind and gods, the Big Bang, the Deluge, Atlantis, the Age of Discovery and space travel, just to name a few. Written by François I. Confine and Philippe Genty, and produced by Rozon, the show (which was presented four times a day) mixed classic theatrical elements and modern multimedia technology.


Alicia Keys during As I Am Tour at Pavilhão Atlântico, 2008

The arena holds the European record for attendance in club Futsal when 10,076 spectators saw Sporting losing to FC Barcelona (3x5) in the 2014–15 UEFA Futsal Cup final-four.

One of the most remarkable events to ever take place there were the MTV Europe Music Awards in 2005.

The arena was the final venue of the 1999 FIBA Under-19 World Championship, between USA and Spain.

In addition, World Wrestling Entertainment has presented five house shows there, on December 4 & 5, 2006 and June 8 & 9, 2007. The December 4 event was the first WWE event in 13 years to take place in Portugal. All the shows were sold out. To be noted that the December 2006 events featured the SmackDown! brand and the June 2007 featured the RAW brand. The RAW brand returned to the arena on April 19, 2008. On September 24, 2008, the SmackDown/ECW Live Tour was held at the arena.

The arena will host the 63rd Eurovision Song Contest with semi-finals on 8 & 10 May and the grand final on 12 May 2018, following Portugal's win in the 2017 contest.

Web SummitEdit

In September 2015, Web Summit co-founder and CEO Paddy Cosgrave announced that the event would be held in Lisbon for three consecutive editions, from 2016 to 2018. Congrave cited the local startup scene and a "cosmopolitan city with better infrastructure conditions and a larger number of hotel rooms" for the decision.

The three-day event held from November 7—10 at the MEO Arena, site of Expo '98, drew 53,056 attendees from more than 150 countries and more than 1,500 start-ups spread over 21 venues. Among the more than 600 speakers were a number of tech top executives from around the world, including John Chambers of Cisco Systems, Facebook CTO Mike Schroepfer, Twitter founder Jack Dorsey and Tesla's Elon Musk. Also speaking at the event were prominent figures from non-tech areas, such as U2 frontman Bono, Salil Shetty of Amnesty International and Joana Coles, Editor in Chief of Cosmopolitan, as well as footballer Luís Figo and both the Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa and Prime Minister António Costa.


Madonna ended her Re-Invention Tour with two sold out shows for 33,460 fans on September 2004. It was the first time that Madonna performed in Portugal.[2]

The tenth installment of The Dave Matthews Band Live Trax series was recorded at Pavilhão Atlântico in May 2007.

Kylie Minogue performed there on July 4, 2009. It was the first time that Minogue performed in Portugal.

Britney Spears performed a sold-out show on November 9, 2011, as part of her Femme Fatale Tour.

Justin Bieber performed a sold out show at the venue on 11 March 2013, as part of Believe Tour.

One Direction performed a sold-out show in 2013 on the venue as part of their Take Me Home Tour (One Direction).

For 2009 many events had already been booked a year in advance: one of the biggest acts was Green Day in September and later Muse on November 29 as part of their Resistance Tour.

Britney performed one night on the venue as part of her 2011 Femme Fatale Tour

In 2010 the venue held Lady Gaga's The Monster Ball Tour show on December 10 and a week after, on December 16, Thirty Seconds to Mars' concert as part of their Into the Wild Tour.

Beyoncé performed two consecutive sold out show in 2014, on March 26 and 27, as part of The Mrs. Carter Show World Tour.

Miley Cyrus performed at the venue on 15 June 2014, as part of her Bangerz Tour.

Shakira holds the record for the biggest attendance with her Oral Fixation Tour back in 2007 with a completely sold out show.

On November 10, 2014, Lady Gaga brought her ArtRave: The Artpop Ball to the MEO Arena, which is already called "the biggest production ever made" on this venue until then.

On May 4, 2015, 5 Seconds of Summer started their first world tour Rock Out With Your Socks Out Tour with a sold-out show.

Justin Bieber performed in MEO Arena for the 2nd time with the Purpose World Tour on November 25, 2016, with a sold-out show.

Madonna performed two nights on the venue as part of her 2004 Re-Invention World Tour





The Atlantic Pavilion is member of the Associação de Turismo da Lisboa (ATL, English: Tourism Association of Lisbon) and active member of the European Arenas Association (EAA). Through these connections the MEO Arena management has establish close relationships with the main auditoriums and arenas in Europe and benefited from their synergies of scale.


  1. ^ Madeira, Catarina (15 May 2013). "Pavilhão Atlântico passa a chamar-se Meo Arena". Diário Económico (in Portuguese). Retrieved 15 May 2013. 
  2. ^ Inc, Nielsen Business Media (2004-10-02). Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. 

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