We chat with Faye Dyer, Managing Director of The ACC Liverpool Group, operator of the M&S Bank Arena on how the venue is preparing for one of the biggest events in the calendar.
Hi Faye, so how has your venue been preparing for hosting Eurovision over the recent months?
This is a whole team effort and we have been aligning all our teams since we won the bid to ensure we are all working together. All departments are involved including marketing and communications; events and operations; production and technical as well as our service partners such as catering and stewarding. However, it’s not just our team and the BBC – there are many stakeholders involved in organising this event, so we are working closely with Culture Liverpool; the Combined Authority; DCMS and Merseyside Police.
It’s our 15-year anniversary this year and have a significant amount of experience and excellent track record in delivering large-scale, complex, global events – both as a venue and as a wider city – from the World Gymnastic Championships to the MTV Europe Music Awards. We have a strong in-house team so we’re tackling the event in the same way we do with every other event, with ambition, versatility, pride and teamwork.
There has been a lot of logistical activity going on behind the scenes such as making space for the Eurovision teams and we’ve accelerated a number of planned investments in our facilities such as installing LED lighting across the whole arena.
Our service partners – including catering, stewarding, cleaning and security – are integral to our world class event delivery and to ensuring the visitor experience is the best it can be. We’ve worked closely with them to ensure they are able to flex-up staffing levels to accommodate the needs of this event and the expected increase in visitor numbers to our campus and city region beyond. We’ve received excellent support from city partners to ensure all team members have received best training to ensure that every single visitor feels welcomed, respected and included.
Last month we hosted a recruitment fair which welcomed over 1,500 candidates to meet with our teams and around 40 other employers across the city region’s visitor economy. The event, supported by DWP was a huge success, with Eurovision helping to act as a springboard to attract our community to consider a career in events and hospitality.
And I’m sure you’ve had to navigate some
challenges along the way?
The bid process was comprehensive and, as there were some events due to take place during Eurovision’s required tenancy, we fully consulted with all parties involved to ensure that a solution that everyone was happy with could be reached.
The planning period has been much shorter for Eurovision than would typically have been the case, with Liverpool announced as the host city just seven months ago. But – working effectively and efficiently as one team – we’ve ensured there’s been no compromise on the end result.
How does it feel knowing that your venue is going to be the site of such a prestigious event?
We faced some tough competition from other arenas across the UK so to be selected was testament to our team and the city – as well as confidence from the outside world – that we can deliver and that our people and our community have created a truly welcoming and inclusive vibe, befitting of the delegations, crew and fans of the event.
It’s been a really busy time planning this phenomenal event and we can’t wait to show the world how Liverpool can both party and wrap its arms around those in need. It’s so exciting for us, this will be a fabulous global event for the city and is a source of immense civic pride but, most importantly, gives us the opportunity to show our support for Ukraine.
Logistically there must have been many considerations with multiple events within such a short time?
There will be 12 shows in total, nine of which are open to the public! In addition to the grand final, the two semi-finals will also be televised. We’ll prepare for the public shows in the same way we would for any other arena shows, although this is the first time we’ve hosted this amount of entertainment shows on consecutive days.
More than 50,000 ticket holders will have the opportunity to experience the event from within the arena with up to 100,000 extra visitors expected to enjoy the city over that period. We are so proud of how the whole city has got behind this event.
Finally, how will Eurovision increase your venue’s profile on a global level?
We expect that the legacy of Eurovision for The ACC Liverpool Group will help us to continue to attract significant international events across all sectors that we operate in, cementing our reputation even further on the international map. However, our main aim is not about raising our profile, it is about standing in solidarity with Ukraine and its people and we believe it is right that we play our part in supporting this incredible country.
It will be a busy but phenomenal night and one we’re honoured to be a part of.