Nottingham’s biggest venue is well managed, with decent sightlines – but beware the beer chuckers when bands play
Capacity: 10,000 standing, 9,300 seated
Who plays there: A-list pop stars: Justin Bieber, Katy Perry, One Direction, Lady Gaga. R&B superstars: Beyoncé, Drake, Rihanna, Usher. Heritage legends: Elton John, Rod Stewart, Meat Loaf, Status Quo. Festival headliners: Kings of Leon, the Killers, Arctic Monkeys, Ed Sheeran, Elbow. Few acts are too big to play here, although Springsteen, Madonna and the Stones are still beyond its reach.
Cloakroom: No, but lockers are available.
Admission: Usually from £25 to £50; more than £100 for premier, hospitality and executive suite packages.
Bar: Plenty of bars upstairs. These are evenly divided between the block entrances, which keeps queues to manageable levels, and the prices are reasonable for an arena. Drinks can be taken into the auditorium. At standing events, there tends to be a large bar at the back of the arena, and sometimes on the left hand side as well.
Food: Hot snacks at all the bars: burgers, nachos, hot dogs. There’s a wider selection at the bar next to the entrance to block 11, in the main foyer. Larger pre-show meals are available at the T&D Café Bar, at the back of the box office area; you can’t book tables, but it never gets too mobbed.
Toilets: Loads of them, and they’re all sizeable.
Wheelchair access: Yes. The venue has a painstakingly thorough accessibility policy, and wheelchair users are well served here; the dedicated viewing areas are among the best spots in the house.
Sound: Problematic, but not insurmountable, running the gamut from excellent (Duran Duran, Tinie Tempah, Metallica) to diabolical (The Verve). The big pop acts usually crack the challenge, but indie bands frequently suffer.
Where to stand: For the biggest pop acts – your Biebers, your Gagas – overnight queuing for the standing floor is all part of the ritual, and the venue has a good reputation for managing the situation considerately and safely. A premium standing area is sometimes made available, right down at the front, and it’s worth the extra money if you can afford it; there’s plenty of space behind the main crush, and you won’t have to pack a sleeping bag. For other, less stellar shows, navigating the main floor isn’t too problematic, and even halfway back you’ll be fine. Be warned, though: on band nights, it’s a beer-chucker’s paradise. As for the seating blocks, four and 16 have the best views, closely followed by five and 15. (One warning: rows P to V are high up, and not recommended for those with vertigo or mobility issues.) Blocks eight to 12 are much further back, but pop-up stages at the rear of the room have become commonplace, so you might still nab a mid-set grandstand view.
Overall: Often criticised for its sound quality, the Arena isn’t exactly the most characterful of venues, but by A-lister standards it’s comparatively compact, and your chances of securing a decent view are higher here than most.
Address: Bolero Square, The Lace Market, Nottingham NG1 1LA
Telephone: 0843 373 3000
Public transport: Three minutes’ walk from the Lace Market tram stop on Fletcher Gate, with discounted travel available to ticket holders you can book your tram ticket along with your event ticket, or by calling 0843 373 3000. Nottingham railway station is 10 minutes’ walk away, as are the Broadmarsh and Victoria bus stations. Several Nottingham City Transport buses have stops right outside the venue, and Trent Barton buses also offer discounted travel to ticket holders.
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