New music theater in Spain: Hitting the right note


Music venue Intu Costa del Sol Image: intu

An upcoming musical amphitheater at Costa del Sol in Spain promises to treat visitors and residents to an eclectic selection of musical performances throughout the year.
A 5,000-seater open air musical amphitheater – which will sit within a huge catchment area – is coming up at intu Costa del Sol in Málaga in Spain. The British real estate investment trust intu will develop the music venue which will be part of a retail resort and work is scheduled to commence in 2020.

Ian Sanford, founder of Eurofund Group, who is the brainchild behind the entire project, commented, “We want to position the music venue as an international destination in itself. We anticipate the venue being very much an integral part of the resort but also capable of being a unique standalone venue.” Since the planned amphitheater is part of a global resort complex, it will feature a range of added attractions like parks, gardens, leisure attractions, fine dining and family restaurants, hotels, beach club, a kids’ plaza and shopping complex and will cater to residents, tourists and the floating population.

The upcoming music venue will be a large, spacious open air arena and will make its own unique contribution to the rich fabric of Spain’s musical legacy. It will be equipped with the latest in sound and light technology and will be serviced by 5,000 directly accessible parking lots. Pharaoh Global, the UK-based company which works with owners of venues, is lending assistance as far as designing the arena and the appointment of an operator is concerned. Spain headquartered firm IDOM are also consultants for the project, along with architects WATG.

A musical amphitheater in lush green open spaces with the area pulsating with live music is designed to attract both locals and tourists in droves. To give people an unforgettable dining experience, approximately 70 restaurants have been planned around the scheme, all easily accessible to the venue audience but there will also be additional offerings immediately adjacent to the venue in discussion with the operator.

The people connected with the ambitious project are trying to ensure that the arena earns a reputation as a special events space with the potential to host grand, elaborate stage shows. How many event days are you planning in a year? “In time, we hope that the venue operator will achieve between 150 and 200 event days per annum,” informs Byron Lewis, Commercial Strategy Director of Pharaoh Global, who is spearheading the Pharaoh team on the project.

As the arena will be open air, musical shows will be held al fresco. Won’t the weather play spoilsport? “No! The Costa del Sol enjoys 320 days of sun each year and fantastic evening temperatures, ideal for enjoying outdoor entertainment. For day time and early evening shows we will be designing in temporary shades,” said Steve Brice, CEO of Pharaoh Global, who is leading alongside Lewis on the project.

In the case of open-air venues, participants can partake in the events in a more proactive manner. What plans do you have on giving a shared musical experience to the audience? “We will ensure close proximity for the audience to the performer and create a relaxed and enjoyable environment for both, actively encouraging interaction and familiarity,” adds Lewis.

Europe has imported different genres of music. Any plans along the lines of music festivals? “We are very aware of the Starlite Music Festival nearby and hope to be complementary on this July/August offering. It is an area of discussion through the operator selection process,” comments Brice.

Unrivaled acoustics is key to a venue’s success. How will you get your venue’s acoustics pitch perfect? “We are making sure that every detail ensures a great spectator and artist experience working with IDOM, among others, through a rigorous design process. We are very aware of the unique challenge of building in the coastal terrain, the potential impact of the surrounding development, prevailing weather conditions and uniqueness of an outdoor venue,” says Brice.

It is but a fact that any construction project generates a lot of waste. But, businesses these days are making more and more green choices. What initiatives are you taking to reduce carbon footprints in this whole project? “The six pillars underpinning the whole strategy for development are urban transformation, amplifying green space, smart water, sustainable buildings, cultured communities and inclusive spaces,” Brice further states. “We are aiming to be one of the most sustainable developments in the world and have a comprehensive sustainability strategy”.

In today’s age of advanced technology, one needs to stay ahead of the curve. How is your technological prowess different from your competitors? Lewis remarks, “We obviously benefit from being a brand-new venue, still in the very early stages of design and not due to open until 2023 so plenty of time to adapt and design in the very latest technological developments and trends.”

There is a wealth of added attractions near the planned musical venue. In such a scenario, how will you make your event stand out? Lewis puts in, “We anticipate the musical venue being very much an integral part of the resort but also capable of being a unique standalone venue. The selected operator will become a key part of the resort wide management team and will plan collaboratively to ensure the program of events complements resort wide activities.”

Sandford wraps up by saying, “Increased footfall to the whole scheme and helping the scheme to position itself as an international destination is what we want the whole project to achieve for the business. Early days, but in brief, the site has already been acquired and detailed planning consent received with a planned start on site Q2 2020 opening Q2 2023.”

The people associated with the grandiose project are striving to make the venue the titan of Spain’s musical scene and ensure that the whole arena is not only beautiful on the eye but also serves as a cultural beacon in the catchment area.

The British real estate investment trust intu – who are in the business of helping retailers and brands flourish – is coming up with a global resort at Costa del Sol at Málaga in Spain. Nestled in the resort within a huge catchment area, a 5,000-seater musical venue has also been planned.

UK-based company Pharaoh Global and IDOM – a multinational corporation based in Spain – are consultants for the project, alongside renowned architects, WATG. The right alchemy is required to design a perfect concert hall for any venue, for that matter. It presents challenges to even the most experienced team.

Why are you so sure this new project/5,000-seater music venue will work in such a location? Ian Sanford, founder of Eurofund Group (global real estate experts), who is the brain behind the entire project, explains, “The location is perfectly suited to an amphitheater venue and sits within a huge catchment area. It is just one part of an extensive retail, leisure and entertainment development expected to attract in excess of 25m visitors per annum. The location and size of the venue will be an attractive option and opportunity to many touring acts.”

To ensure that the whole amphitheater enchants with musical extravaganzas, content is a crucial factor. What about the content? Can you acquire enough popular musicians to fill the venue? “We obviously believe we can, but the choice of operator will be key to this ambition. We fully anticipate a strong mixed schedule of events from major acts through to local performers and family entertainment,” remarks Steve Brice, CEO of Pharaoh Global, who is heading the project.

It is not enough for a concert venue to be just part of a cultural ecosystem. It will also have to be commercially successful. Does the venue make money, or will it be cross-financed by the other properties within the park? Sandford further says, “We expect the venue to become a profit center for the development in its own right, but equally so, it is deliberately included as part of the development mix to increase footfall to the resort and therefore overall dwell time and spend per head.”

Standing out from the masses, fighting one’s way through the stiff competition in the music industry and reaching out to as many people along the way is not an easy proposition. One needs to have a creative and individual idea. What is the unique selling proposition for this property/venue? Sandford informs, “It is part of a global resort complex, an open-air amphitheater venue designed to service the wide local catchment as well as significant inbound tourism from all parts of the globe. Apart from the obvious open-air design, the other features in the venue which will make it different are to create flexible audience and performance areas along with great connectivity and service capabilities from the rest of the resort. Everything is being designed to create an enticing and exciting destination and we have time and funding to embrace many new technologies and innovations.”

A lot of unexpected obstacles come up while taking on a project as huge as this. What are your challenges? “Initially, it will be the design of an appropriate venue for the location and context, ensuring an appropriate identity whilst blending with the resort. Understanding exactly what is expected of the venue and ensuring the design is fit for purpose from the outset is critical. This will include consideration of light and sound impacts from the venue into other resort elements and vice-versa. Once development starts, it will require a collaborative project team approach to ensure simultaneous completion of all elements. In the mobilization and start-up operational phase, close liaison between all elements of the resort and the intu management team will be critical to initial and ongoing success of the music venue scheduling and operation,” informs Byron Lewis, Commercial Strategy Director of Pharaoh Global, who is also heading the project along with CEO Brice.

How will you overcome the challenges? Brice puts in, “The design will be a collaborative effort between appropriate industry experts both for the music venue and other elements of the resort. This expert knowledge and vision will encapsulate retail, leisure, fitness and entertainment along with hotel and casinos. All of these experts will engage in detailed discussions with intu and Pharaoh Global to fully understand their vision and desires and the particular aspects of the location. Through development, the scheduling of each element of the build will need careful programming to ensure timely and appropriate access, whilst maintaining the ability to procure the technical elements as late in the process as possible. Once development is complete, the selected operator will mobilize and be embedded into the overall resort management plans. Each individual unit will be required to develop operational strategies that can work independently, as part of a cluster or as part of the overall resort operational plan.”

Which advice can you give to others for future projects? Sandford sums up by saying, “It is too early to give specific advice, but getting respective operators agreed for each element and involved early on is critical. This also allows a collaborative approach among all operators from the outset. The mix of different elements – size, location, adjacency, inter-action and dependencies – is important to ensure each benefit their neighbor and the whole resort ambition.”

Each stakeholder associated with this grand project is pulling out all the stops for successful realization of the same and to make certain that the venue can reconnect people to their music heritage.

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