EN explores the venues the Midlands has to offer.
With a population of 5.9m, national landmarks like Warwick Castle, Shakespeare’s birthplace, Peterborough Cathedral and Sherwood Forest, as well as being the birthplace of Sir Isaac Newton and the fictional heart-throb Mr Darcy, the Midlands has much to offer.
Made up of the two regions of the East Midlands and West Midlands, the Midlands spans the counties of Derbyshire, Herefordshire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire, Nottinghamshire, Rutland, Shropshire, Warwickshire, Worcestershire, and the West Midlands metropolitan boroughs.
A key player in the Industrial Revolution, the Midlands is returning to its heyday.
With HS2 promising to link Birmingham and London and cut travel times between the two cities to under an hour, the Midlands well poised for significant growth in the UK. With the region being home to a number of businesses, including Jaguar Land Rover, Cadbury’s Bournville and Marmite, the Midlands is experiencing the fastest economic growth outside of London (Gross Domestic Product grew by 3.2 per cent between quarter four of 2017 and 2018 – more than doubling the average UK growth of 1.5 per cent). Its increasing relevance to the UK economy is certainly not going away.
The Midlands is also at the heart of event industry with many of the UK’s leading venues taking advantage of the region’s central location, great travel links and growing economy. This piece explores a variety of the exhibition opportunities that the region has to offer.
The East of England Arena and Events Centre
The East of England Arena and Events Centre (EEAEC) is made up of 9,000sqm of covered event space and 900,000sqm of outdoor space, alongside supporting infrastructure that allows the venue to host everything from festivals to comedy tours, automotive events to equestrian shows and the largest exhibition in the UK – Plantworx – which fills the entire venue.
The venue is located at the gateway to the East of England region andis at the heart of many regional industries including engineering, automotive, healthcare and biosciences. The EEAEC can be accessed by major road networks, in addition to having a rail time from central London of just 39 minutes. The greater Peterborough area has access to more than 116,000 businesses and a catchment of over 1m. people. The region remains the third largest economic region in the country, and Peterborough itself is the fifth fastest growing city in the UK. Economically the region is built upon a variety of industries with strengths in services sectors, financial services, manufacturing (e.g. automotive, pharmaceuticals) and ICT.
The size of the venue, and the large open space allow for the provision of internal marshalling areas, while four side access to the Arena on level ground combine to make build up and breakdown of events straightforward. This, combined with permanent physical infrastructure such as washrooms and showers, site wide electric power and water points, makes the venue ideal for a range of events, including those that may want to offer camping on site or displays set around the 250 acres of grass, all accessed by 5km of internal roadways. The secure perimeter with controlled access points allow organisers to manage entry and egress easily.
The site also allows for rolling build up and breakdown of events, in addition to concurrent events using different parts of the venue due to its flexibility. The EEAEC is supported by a professional team of event managers, grounds personnel and key suppliers that make the East of England Arena as close to a ‘plug and play’ venue as possible.
Whilst some events are ideally suited to an enclosed space in a city centre, there is an increasing variety of events that require versatility, and the East of England Arena and Events Centre can offer them a space to take place in.
Business development manager, Dean Rees, said: “Events and exhibitions continue to evolve beyond the halls, many need the ability to accommodate exhibits that are too large to be placed inside an exhibition hall, some need space to have live action and some shows will have exhibitors wanting to demonstrate their product’s capability. In the case of construction equipment it may even include breaking ground, something that cannot be done without outdoor space. Many automotive events will want live action and that needs space and hard standing. The ability to provide all of this in one location is quite a compelling argument for our venue. Anchor that to the markets that are nested close to the venue and you have a winning combination.”
Ricoh Arena has a 32,609-seater stadium bowl along with an adjoining 6,000sqm indoor arena, known as Ericsson Indoor Arena. The venue has up to 7,500sqm of exhibition space in total, including more than 80 suites that can accommodate from seven to 7,000 delegates.
Alongside hosting Wasps Rugby matches every other week and welcoming The Killers and Rammstein in June, the venue will welcome 40-plus exhibitions throughout 2020.
The exhibitions offer a great deal of variety from national consumer shows to niche trade events. In February, the venue welcomed the Go Diving Show where the attendees will be able to explore the depths of the world’s oceans. The venue also hosts major exhibitions including the Microlise Transport Conference, the Engineering Design Show and IntralogisteX as returning customers.
Due to Ricoh Arena’s location and proximity to various transport links – around 75 per cent of the UK can reach the venue by car within two hours, and the venue is just 20 minutes away from Birmingham Airport and Birmingham International train station – the venue has national and international reach. Alongside the 1,350 events and 38 UK exhibitions that the venue held in 2019, the venue also worked with American production company Feld Entertainment on hosting Monster Jam for the first time.
Last year, more than 1.4m people visited Ricoh Arena for live sport and music, through to conferences, exhibitions, meetings and weddings.
Towards the end of 2019, the Vodafone Business Lounge was launched at Ricoh Arena – a space where businesses can experience new technology such as 5G and the Internet of Things, where everyday objects are internet-enabled, and high-speed fibre.
Over time, Ricoh Arena expects 5G to widen the use of virtual reality and augmented reality within events, which will help organisers push the boundaries of how to engage with their delegates and visitors. This engagement could range from visitors using their smartphones to view a live setting overlaid with digital content to using VR headsets for interactive exercises.
Warwickshire Event Centre
The Warwickshire Event Centre has 2,280sqm of space along with outdoor event space and parking for over 2,000 vehicles. The centre offers both an indoor event hall and outdoor display area, set on a 30-acre site.
The Event Centre hosts a number of regular trade and public events including exhibitions, conferences, live events, product launches, trade shows, public exhibitions and shows. Many of them returning each year or biannually, bringing with them a combined total of over 40,000 visitors to the venue.
The venue is easily accessible from the Midlands motorway network and all major roads – Birmingham, Warwick, Coventry, Leamington Spa and Stratford upon-Avon are all nearby.
Over the past five years the Warwickshire Event Centre has gone through major extensions and grown from 1,645sqm to 2,280sqm.