x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Stadium crosses musical boundaries

Negotiations are at an advanced stage for the first in a series of musical events at Dubai Sports City's cricket stadium.

The Dubai International Cricket Stadium attracted a capacity crowd during the Chapal Cup series between Pakistan and Australia.
The Dubai International Cricket Stadium attracted a capacity crowd during the Chapal Cup series between Pakistan and Australia.

DUBAI // Dubai Sports City's cricket stadium will soon be echoing to more than the sound of bat against ball. Negotiations are at an advanced stage for the first in a series of musical events at the 25,000-seat facility, which is expected to become a significant addition to the city's roster of concert venues. "We are in conversation with major music promoters to provide a full calendar of events to Dubai International Cricket Stadium," said Malcolm Thorpe, the director of marketing at Dubai Sports City. "We expect this venue will be in great demand."

But music fans will have to wait to find out who will be playing - Mr Thorpe would not reveal the identity of any forthcoming acts. The recently completed venue hosted two of the five matches in the Chapal Cup series of one-day cricket internationals between Pakistan and Australia in the UAE in late April and early May, and also attracted a capacity crowd for the Twenty-20 match between the teams - the Emirates' first ever international in cricket's most abbreviated format.

While hosting cricket will remain its primary role, the stadium was always designed to be a multi-purpose venue. "Our approach to the design of the stadium was to work towards flexibility of functionality," said Maqbul Dudhia, the general manager, sport business, at Dubai Sports City. "We have invested in a protective flooring system that will enable a stage to be constructed and for the stadium to be set up in multiple configurations."

In the past, Dubai venues such as Festival City and Nad Al Sheba racecourse have staged concerts by international stars, including Kylie Minogue and Robbie Williams. However, many shows have been staged in temporary arenas in car parks and other open spaces. Melissa Rutherford, the booking manager for the Fridge, a company that showcases and promotes local musical talent, said that having a permanent concert venue was a major asset to the music scene, would attract a greater variety of performers to the city and could lead to Dubai becoming a regular stop on international stars' world tours.

"Having a stadium with a 25,000 capacity is a great advantage in attracting bigger bands to the city. Not only can they play to larger crowds than they could in most temporary venues, they also have the facilities such as lighting and seating, already in place, which will save them money and time." Another recently opened location in Dubai is the Palladium, a 6,000-capacity venue in Media City that featured the R'n'B star Akon as the headliner of its first major concert late last month.

tbrooks@thenational.ae