Kingdom Arena bustling with big-ticket events



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New Kingdom Arena in Riyadh opens Image: Al Hilal Football Club

In the few months since it opened, Riyadh’s (Saudi Arabia) Kingdom Arena has hosted some of the world’s biggest stars.

‘The National’ stated that the 26,000-seat venue in the Hittin neighborhood of the City was packed out on January 29th to see the Saudi Pro League side Al Hilal SFC play soccer legend Lionel Messi’s Inter Miami CF (US) as part of the Riyadh Season Cup football tournament.

The 26,000-capacity Kingdom Arena is a retractable roof football stadium located in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. In September 2023, the Kingdom Holding Company obtained the management rights to operate the stadium as the new home of the Al Hilal SFC.

The Al Hilal Saudi Football Club, simply known as Al Hilal, is a professional multisports club based in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Their football team competes in the Saudi Professional League, the highest division of association football in the Saudi league system. In Arabic, Al Hilal means the Crescent moon. They are the most decorated club in Asia, winning 66 official trophies.

The Inter Miami CF or Inter Miami is an American professional soccer club based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida (US). Established in 2018, the club began playing in the Eastern Conference of Major League Soccer (MLS) during the 2020 season. The 21,000-capacity DRV PNK Stadium in Fort Lauderdale serves as their residence.

The Riyadh Season Cup is a friendly football tournament that is part of the annual Riyadh Season festival. The festival is a Saudi Government-funded sports and entertainment program that takes place from October to March. The 2024 Riyadh Season Cup is a mid-season tournament that takes place between the 2023-2024 Saudi Pro League and the 2024 MLS regular season.

‘The National’ further stated that it was the first time the Kingdom Arena – formerly known as the Boulevard Hall – hosted an event under its new name.

The multipurpose venue, which can host football, basketball, tennis, and boxing, as well as live concerts, was built for the Riyadh Season -the Winter arts and culture festival that takes place over five months in the Saudi capital.

Its retractable roof means the venue can be used year-round. Inside, the stadium has 20 VIP boxes that can accommodate 350 people.

There’s also a jumbotron – a four-sided video screen similar to those found in US basketball and ice hockey stadiums – hanging from the roof.

Part of the Boulevard City development, the structure was built in 60 days and was ready just in time for the World Boxing Council (WBC) champion Tyson Fury’s (British professional boxer) fight against the former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) heavyweight title holder Francis Ngannou (Cameroonian-French mixed martial artist and professional boxer) on October 28th, 2023.

Mexico City (Mexico)-based the World Boxing Council (WBC) is an international professional boxing organization. It is among the four major organizations which sanction professional boxing bouts, alongside the World Boxing Association (an international organization that regulates boxing and sanctions professional boxing matches), the International Boxing Federation (IBF) (a non-profit organization that sanctions professional boxing matches) and the World Boxing Organization (an organization which sanctions professional boxing bouts).

The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is an American mixed martial arts (MMA) (a full-contact combat sport based on striking, grappling and ground fighting, incorporating techniques from various combat sports from around the world) promotion company based in Las Vegas, Nevada. It is owned and operated by the professional wrestling company TKO Group Holdings, a majority-owned subsidiary of the Endeavor Group Holdings (a global sports and entertainment company). It is the largest MMA promotion in the world as of 2023.
 

Stately Home

It gives the Riyadh football club Al Hilal a permanent home, having previously played at the 67,000-capacity King Fahd International Stadium, the 28,000-capacity Prince Faisal bin Fahd Stadium and the 25,000-capacity King Saud University Stadium, also known as the Al-Awwal Park due to sponsorship reasons. All these stadia are in Riyadh.

The 2024 Coliseum Summit MENA is being held at the Al-Awwal Park in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on February 5th. It is being held in the Kingdom for the first time.

In September last year, the Al Hilal signed an agreement with the General Entertainment Authority to play their home games at the Boulevard Hall (now known as the Kingdom Arena).

Riyadh (Saudi Arabia)-based the General Entertainment Authority, formerly the General Authority for Entertainment, is a Government department in Saudi Arabia that regulates the entertainment industry of the country.

The 40 million Saudi riyal-a-year ($10.6 million) agreement included renaming the venue Kingdom Arena, after Prince Al Waleed bin Talal, a longstanding backer of Al-Hilal and founder of the Kingdom Holding Company, contributed 25 million riyals to the deal.

The Kingdom Holding Company (KHC) is a Saudi conglomerate holding company based in Riyadh. The KHC is a publicly-listed company on the Tadāwul (Saudi Stock Exchange). The KHC consists of a select team of experienced investment specialists directed by its Founder and Chairman, Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal and the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Eng. Talal Ibrahim Al Maiman. The company describes itself as a diversified investment company, whose main interests are financial services, real estate, tourism and hospitality, media, entertainment, petrochemicals, aviation, and technology.

On February 17th, the eyes of the boxing world will be on the Kingdom Arena when the heavyweight division is expected to crown an undisputed champion for the first time in almost 25 years with the meeting of Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk (Ukrainian professional boxer), the WBA, IBF and WBO champion.

Boxing was the first major event to be hosted at the then Boulevard Hall when Fury faced the former UFC heavyweight title-holder Ngannou.

The high-profile fight, billed as the ‘Battle of the Baddest’, was attended by musicians Eminem (American rapper) and Kanye West (American rapper and singer-songwriter), as well as the soccer legend Cristiano Ronaldo (Portuguese footballer).

Anthony Joshua (British professional boxer) defeated Otto Wallin (Swedish professional boxer) at the same venue in December last year, which saw Joseph Parker (New Zealand professional boxer) defeat the former world heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder (American professional boxer) in a unanimous points decision in the co-headline bout.

In June, the venue will host the Kingdom’s first UFC fight night. The event was due to take place on March 2nd, but was rescheduled to “ensure the best caliber of talent will be available”, Turki Alalshikh, Chairman of the General Authority for Entertainment in Saudi Arabia, said on social media.

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