US billionaire to build stadiums in Bangkok for music and sports events

BANGKOK: Superstars like Taylor Swift are going to find it easier to play concerts in Bangkok.

US billionaire Philip Anschutz’s sports and entertainment company AEG and Thai shopping centre developer The Mall Group Co plan to invest 10 billion baht (US$309mil) to build two multi-purpose stadiums in the Thai capital, including one billed as the country’s largest.

One will be a 16,000-capacity arena and the other a 6,000-seat theatre, both designed to host music and sports events as well as conventions and fashion shows.

The stadiums are due to be completed by 2023 and are part of AEG’s shift in Asia from mostly organising live events to creating venues, exemplified by the Mercedes-Benz Arena in Shanghai.

“Bangkok has a tremendous amount of potential but the lack of infrastructure creates an artificial ceiling in the Thai market,” Adam Wilkes, chief executive officer of AEG Asia, said in an interview on Wednesday.

“Even when we have superstars like Taylor Swift or Beyonce, it’s hard to deliver the experience and build a fan base without the infrastructure.”

Bangkok, a metropolis of about 10 million people and the world’s most-visited city, is currently only served by a 12,000-seat arena in the suburbs that’s about three decades old.

The larger of the two venues will temporarily be called the Bangkok Arena and the other EM Live.

But companies will be able to acquire naming rights, similar to AEG arenas like the Staples Centre in Los Angeles or The O2 Arena in London. — Bloomberg

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