30 March 2007

O2 Arena chooses the ultimate flexible seating solution

Anschutz Entertainment Group, developers and operators of London’s O2 Arena, have selected a unique removable seating solution for the floor of the new venue. The “Matrix” system from Audience Systems will allow The O2’s customers to enjoy theatre-style comfort while its operators can remove and install the seating quickly and simply.

Popular System

The Matrix Floorbar system is extremely popular with arenas for a number of reasons. The system consists of groups of typically three auditorium chairs, which are simply slotted into a “matrix” of completely removable floorbars. This means that spectators seated on the arena floor can enjoy the comfort of a theatre-type chair, rather than the more temporary feel of a stacking or folding chair. And as the arena’s configuration is adapted for different events, the speed and ease with which the system can be assembled or moved brings clear operational and financial benefits.

Senior Technical Manager for AEG, Q Willis, said, “the concept for the arena is to provide customers with a higher standard of experience, so we were looking for a superior class of seating. It’s difficult to find a chair for an arena floor which gives customers a good quality seat, which is wide and padded. This system fits the bill perfectly – and the service from Audience Systems has been fantastic.”

There are also safety benefits for both spectators and operators. Because the removable chairs, like classic auditorium chairs, are mounted on a single beam with their seats folding up when unoccupied, wide, safe walkways are created between seats. This makes the Matrix system a safer alternative to other solutions for arena floors, such as folding or stacking seats. The lack of permanent floor fixings also removes a potential trip hazard when the seating is not in place. For operators, the relatively low number of lifting operations required to put the system together reduces physical strain.

Large Redevelopment

The much-publicised O2 Arena, currently rising beneath the “tent” of the Millennium Dome in the heart of London’s Docklands, will be the UK’s largest redevelopment for over 50 years. It is already scheduled to host the Artistic Gymnastics World Championships in 2009 and the finals of the gymnastics and basketball events at the 2012 Olympics. A wide variety of concerts are also planned – with Justin Timberlake and the Scissor Sisters already booked for this summer.

The Arena is the first purpose built music venue to be built in London since the Royal Albert Hall in 1871 – another of Audience Systems’ customers. The company installed 3,500 auditorium chairs at the prestigious venue during its most recent refurbishment.

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