Coca Cola Arena
The Coca-Cola Arena has been hosting global acts and is one of the city's main draws. Now, the owning company is thinking beyond concerts. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Dubai’s Coca-Cola Arena opening up for sports or corporate events? Don’t rule that out.

All options are possible to get one of Dubai’s most happening locations to beat to a different tune other than that from global pop superstars. “We already have the best arena, the best place for people to come together – and we are analyzing the various options to pursue to make it even bigger,” said Fernando Eiroa, CEO of Dubai Holding Entertainment (DHE), which owns the venue.

“I think we should be able to decide the course of action soon. There’s a team working on that. The way I see it there’s such possibilities to host sporting events or ‘sportainment’. We could even do exhibitions or corporate events.

“The Coca-Cola Arena had its best year ever in 2022, and there are other global venues such as the one in Los Angeles that have multi-use, whether shows, concerts or sports,” says Fernando Eiroa of DHE. Image Credit: Supplied

There had been so much talk in the background in local circles about the Arena’s wider possibilities. And that some of the plans could see Dubai integrating aspects of its Destination Tourism with the Sports Tourism agenda the emirate is running with.

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If the venue does open up to events beyond entertainment, that by itself would ensure more usage through the year.

Dubai’s venues, whether massive or niche, have been having some good times, and Eiroa’s DHE has been in the thick of the action. While Coca-Cola Arena gets the headline acts, the Global Village is where shopping and a fay out for the family become the main traffic driver.

And drive traffic the Global Village sure did, with 9 million visitors passing through the turnstiles in six months for the recently concluded edition. “Those 9 million visits in 6 (months) are more than what many venues can’t manage even when open for 12 months,” said Eiroa.

And there is Real Madrid

Sporting possibilities remain front and center of Eiroa’s attention. Dubai will play host to what will be the world’s first Real Madrid theme park as the storied Spanish football club thinks beyond, yes, pure game revenues.

“This is a project that’s not just holding promise for the UAE but from across the region and outside,” the Dubai Holding Entertainment CEO added. “Real Madrid is one’s of the world’s biggest brands – and Dubai is already the hub for entertainment.”

Mix it up and then you get the formula for true ‘sportainment’ success.

Back to spending on theme parks

The Real Madrid park is also a clear signal of Dubai getting back into spending on widening its share of theme park attractions. There have been more elements added to its existing ones at Dubai Parks & Resorts, with the category continuing to be a major beneficiary of the post-Covid boom. It means the lead time between adding a new attraction and winning acceptance.

“The new attractions have been well-received, whether that at Motiongate or Riverland,” the CEO said. “The idea is to keep existing theme parks as fresh as can be (to help with repeat visitors too).

“We don’t breakdown our visitor numbers (for Dubai Parks & Resorts), but we are clearly seeing the benefits of Dubai’s popularity with visitors. Our parks and attractions are ready for the next round.”

When Real Madrid opens its park, it will be a different ballgame altogether. Until then, there's the wider spread happening at the Arena...