Hydro arena in Glasgow set to remain closed for another year

The boss of Glasgow’s Hydro arena has revealed it is set to remain closed for the next year if social distancing to curb the spread of coronavirus is still in place.

More than a million concertgoers attend events at the Hydro arena in Glasgow each year. Picture: Marc Turner

Scaled-backed shows in the 14,3000 venue, which normally attracts more than a million visitors each year, are said to be financially unviable due to extra hygiene costs and reduced ticket sales.

Peter Duthie, chief executive of the Scottish Event Campus, which includes the £125 million venue, the second busiest arena in the world, said mass gatherings “which require people to get together to create an atmosphere” would be a huge challenge.

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And he said the SEC business, which includes the exhibition centre which has been converted into a temporary hospital and the neighbouring Armadillo, was unlikely to be able to generate much revenue at all before the end of the current financial year.

The Grit Orchestra performing at the Hydro during Glasgow's Celtic Connections festival. Picture: Gaelle Beri

Mr Duthie is heading up a new events industry taskforce which will be pressing the case for extra financial support for the sector to prevent the widespread collapse of businesses facing the prospect of a year without any income.

Mr Duthie said: “Mass gatherings are not permitted at the moment, but even when they are, if social distancing is still in place it will be very difficult for any event to operate at all.

“It’s very difficult to see how we can put on a full-event event at the Hydro before the middle through to the end of next year. If everything goes our way it may be possible to do things earlier but it terms of events looking like they did before it’s difficult at the moment to see anything happening before then.

“Anything which requires people to get together to create an atmosphere will be a huge challenge. We’d never say never. We’re going through a process of looking at what social distancing means for capacity and viability and working with promoters to try to find a way through it. We’re looking at what mitigation measures could be put in place to ‘de-risk’ the staging of events.

“Part of that is about giving the customer confidence that they can come to an event safely. We are looking at how we can get to a position on how we can deliver events safely in the new world and give people an experience that they will want.

“We’re trying to persuade the government to allow us to do some test events as part of the journey back to normality to show what can be done. The industry is highly-professional world-class, which is why we need to protect it.

“But when you put all the different factors together, such as the extra costs and reduced revenues, it all becomes very challenging financially.”

Paul Bush, director of events at VisitScotland, insisted event promoters did not want to rush back to staging live concerts until there was greater public “confidence” that it is safe to return to them.

He added: “There is an absolute realisation in the industry that before we get back to whatever normality is they’ve got to get it right. Promoters want to get back, but they don’t want to rush back. I don’t think we will see any big music events happening this year.”

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