The Belgian market has a new mid-size entertainment venue.

Antwerp's Lotto Arena, which opened alongside the Sportpaleis venue on Saturday, is the result of a unique public/private partnership between the City of Antwerp and the Sportpaleis NV. Each partner financed half the total €12 million ($15.83 million) investment.

The arena boasts total adjustable capacity of 7,500 visitors for music shows. Sports events will cater for 5,500 seated visitors on two levels; a detachable floor offers additional space for 3,500 standing visitors.

At press time, the Lotto Arena's calendar shows 25 dates, including musical "K3"; family entertainment, with "Holiday on Ice" and concerts by Natalia, Deep Purple, Zornik, Evanescence, Pointer Sisters and the Antwerp Blues festival. The hall is also home to the Sanex Antwerp Giants basketball team.

"People get more and more leisure time and want to see shows," comments Live Nation promoter Herman Schueremans, "and there was a vacuum in between the 2,000 capacity theatres and the 8,000 seater venues."

He describes the new arena as "the perfect solution here, and [it] makes Belgium more competitive with the rest of the world."

Schueremans staged 31 shows at the Sportpaleis last year, and will be involved with a string of upcoming events at the new venue.

Sportpaleis and Lotto Arena director Jan Van Esbroeck says the venue would realistically host 95 events music and sport events each year.

Sportpaleis' shareholders include the live music group's directors, the Ahoy venue in Rotterdam, concert promoter Live Nation Holland (formerly Mojo) and promoters Schueremans and Kris Verleyen.

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