At the time, AEG’s application to run Wembley Arena was referred to the Competition Commission amid fears that AEG's dominance in the capital could lead to higher prices. In addition to running Wembley Arena, AEG also manages the 20,000-capacity O2 arena, 1,800-capacity IndigO2 (located inside The O2 arena complex) and the 5,000-capacity Eventim Apollo, Hammersmith. It also holds the contracts for outdoor concerts in London’s Hyde Park.
In August 2013, the Competition Commission concluded that AEG's takeover of Wembley Arena would “not result in substantial lessening of competition.” The O2 arena and Wembley Arena are the two largest indoor venues in the U.K. capital.
“Wembley Arena is an iconic British venue,” Paul Samuels, executive vice president, AEG Global Partnerships, tells Billboard.biz. He cites the existing partnership between AEG and energy supplier SSE, which already sponsors the the SSE Hydro in Glasgow, as a key factor in striking the Wembley Arena deal. As part of the 10-year naming-rights partnership, SSE will fund “significant” investment in upgrading the venue’s facilities with the majority of work to take place in the “concourse and foyer areas” throughout 2013, says Samuels. There will also be an upgrade to the building’s customer lounges. The refurbishment will not disrupt upcoming events scheduled to take place at Wembley Arena, which this year stages concerts from Barry Manilow, Andre Rieu and Bryan Adams, among others.
“The key to a good sponsor is what they can do for the consumer. For us, it’s not always about cash investment; although, of course, that’s very important. It’s about what sponsor is going to do to help support the venues and enhance the experience for the customer,” says Samuels, citing exclusive offers and pre-sale promotions that SSE will offer to its customers.
He adds that striking naming-rights deals “is the reality of the world that we’re living in now.”
“Their heritage is still there within the building," he concluded. "We are just giving Wembley Arena a new name and a new look to make sure that it can last for many years to come and compete in this very busy market.”