The O2 Arena
The O2 arena is a modern cross-functional indoor arena, where different types of sports and music events are held. It is located in the very center of a large entertainment complex, The O2. In its turn, The O2 is located on the Greenwich Peninsula, London. In the context of the 2012 Summer Olympic Games, The O2 arena is officially known as North Greenwich Arena 1 (Quainton, 2009).
A capacity of the arena is up to 20,000 people. Therefore, it is considered to be the second largest venue in the United Kingdom after the Manchester Arena. Moreover, The O2 arena is one of the biggest in Europe. It won the title of the world’s busiest music stage in 2008. The arena excelled the Manchester Arena, which held the title since 2001 (White, 2008).
The O2 is a restoration of The Millennium Dome, the largest domed building in the world. Since it was built on the Greenwich Peninsula, the homeland of Greenwich Mean Time, its design has had a symbolic meaning. Twelve 100-metre tall yellow poles support the building. They represent either the 12 hours on the clock's dial or the 12 months of the year (Welch, 2007). The dome of the construction is circular. It is 365 meters in diameter. Thereby, each meter represents one day of the year. The height of the dome is 52 meters. Thus, one meter represents one week of the year.
The construction of the arena lasted for 4 years, from 2003 till 2007. Due to the specific construction of the building, all works were done without using cranes. As a result, the roof of the arena was constructed on the ground and then lifted. The whole roof structure weighs 4500 kilos. Interestingly enough, the weight of the roof is less than the weight of the air inside it.
The O2 arena consists of the arena itself and the arena concourse. The sporting venue does not depend on other buildings of the entertainment complex.
Since The O2 arena is the first venue that was built not only for sports competitions but also for music events, a new technology was used to reduce echoing. The best sound manager in the United Kingdom, Joe O’Herlihy, worked on it together with acoustic engineers. They placed sound-absorbing material on the roof, upper walls, and balcony seats (Farnworth, 2010). Thus, The O2 arena sound system conforms to the world's highest standards.
How to Get to The O2 Arena
There are many ways how to get to The O2 arena. The easiest way is to take the subway. The only underground route that is connected with all other routs is Jubilee line. Thus, London residents can reach The O2 arena without difficulties. If one likes luxurious promenades, he/she can get to The O2 Arena by high-speed Thames clipper. It departs every hour. If one is scared of Tube or Thames clippers, he/she can use a bus. There are approximately 7 bus routs which can take visitors to The O2 Arena (Sweney, 2010). In addition, North Greenwich station has its own taxicab fleet of up to 50 black taxis. Many visitors prefer to go to The O2 Arena on foot because of the picturesque view of Greenwich Peninsula.
Access to the Arena
There are 8 entrances to The O2 arena. Entrances A, B and C are located opposite to The O2 main entrance. Entrances G and H can be accessed from The O2 west entrance. Visitors can go through the entrances D, E and F when walking on the Entertainment Avenue. All entrances of The O2 arena are manned by highly skilled stewards and trained security personnel.
The Layout of The O2 Arena
The arena consists of three seating zones, the upper and lower levels built in the same way as an amphitheater, and the floor. The levels are divided into blocks. Each block of the upper tier has approximately 16 rows, while the lower level blocks have 22 rows. The rows are marked alphabetically. Floor blocks have removable seats and are usually numbered A1 – A3, B1 – B3, C1 – C3 (Welch, 2007). There are easily accessible lifts to each level within the arena. The central surface of the arena can be transformed into a basketball court, tennis court, ice rink, exhibit hall, conference room, and concert venue.
Arena managers insist on the fact that there is a clear view of the field from any seat. There are large video screens above the stage which ensure a nice view.
Accessible Seating Areas
People with disabilities or those in a wheelchair can easily reach The O2 arena. All buildings in The O2 are fully equipped with lifts and wide entrances.
Comfortable, open wheelchair seating areas are located on floor level and level 1. In addition, temporary seats are available for wheelchair users' accompanying persons. Every wheelchair platform is manned by a trained steward who provides assistance when required. There are no cloakroom facilities at The O2 arena. Visitors can leave their wheelchairs at the information desks on level 1orlevel 4. Each level provides ambulant seating for visitors who cannot walk and leave a seat in the case of an emergency (Welch, 2007).
The rules do not forbid taking assistance dogs to The O2 arena. The disabled people can take them to their seats on the platforms. However, if a visitor has a seat at some ambulant seating area he should leave his assistance dog with a Customer Services Representative. Specially trained people will look after the dog during the whole event.
A highly qualified security team works day and night to ensure visitors’ safety and security. If a visitor has a problem, he can appeal to any of the uniformed security officers who will immediately provide assistance. The O2 Operations Room staff monitors the events which take place at the arena. CCTV cameras are able to make high quality pictures (Farnworth, 2010). If it is necessary to ensure public safety, images can be used by the police or other security organizations.
Security officers are on duty at each entrance. They have a right to inspect the things that visitor bring to the arena. Security service is allowed to confiscate the items which pose danger for other guests. They can also confiscate such barred things as glass and plastic bottles, alcohol, professional video cameras and other recording equipment.
Security officers are also in line of duty at every block on each level. Their aim is to ensure visitors’ safety during a sports or music event.
In case of emergency, security team evacuates people according to the instructions of the evacuation plan. All The O2 staff is trained in the evacuation process. Security officers divide people in groups and then take them out through the nearest fire exit.
Assistive Listening Devices
The O2 arena offers assistive listening devices for those visitors who have hearing disorders. This device enhances sound perception and can be used both independently and with hearing aid. Alternatively, visitors can use earphones. To get assistive listening devices, visitors should go to the information desks on level 1 or level 4 (Farnworth, 2010).
Food and Drinks in The O2 Arena
There are many food and drink outlets on level 1 and level 4. The guests can also visit the VIP lounge on the ground level (White, 2008). Food and drinks bought at the outlets can be taken to the seats inside the arena. For safety reasons, visitors are not allowed to take a can or glass bottle into the arena.
Environmental Impact of the Venue
The O2 arena is an environmentally friendly construction. Moreover, the management of The O2 arena takes different steps to reduce its harmful impact on the environment. The O2 recycles all glass bottles into building sand, reduces carbon emissions, composts waste food and recycles used cooking oil into biodiesel. The O2 uses LED and CFL lighting systems. Approximately 70% of all visitors use public transport to get to The O2 arena (Sweney, 2010). This significantly reduces emission of the fuel into the air.
Promotion and Sponsorship of the Venue
The promotion of the venue is provided all the time. A special marketing division and The O2 Media's partnership team promote every event that is held at the arena. The event advertisement appears on all screens at The O2. The venue is also promoted through the messages on The O2 arena’s Facebook and Twitter page.
The owner of The O2 arena is AEG Europe. The main sponsor of The O2 arena is O2. It is the biggest mobile operator in the United Kingdom, which bought the right to name the arena. Recently, BSkyB has sealed a sponsorship deal with The O2 arena (Quainton, 2009). The five-year contract will give Sky the opportunity to broadcast all events that are held at the arena. Such brands as Adidas, BMW, Coca Cola, ADT, Visa, Credit Suisse, Nestlé are the partners of The O2 arena.
The O2 arena is the most acoustically and technically advanced arena in Europe. The floor seating area of the arena can be transformed according to the type of event. It hosts many concert and sports events such as dancing shows, theatrical and ice performances, tennis, basketball, boxing and hockey matches. Thus, The O2 arena is always in use.
The arena will host both the basketball and gymnastics finals during the 2012 Olympic Games. The O2 arena is one of the most visited landmarks in London.
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