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Design & Development

LDLC Arena opens up with EuroLeague game

Images: LDLC Arena

LDLC Arena, France’s largest indoor arena outside of Paris, has staged its first major event amid question marks over the ownership situation for the Lyon venue.

The €141m (£122.5m/$153.8m) venue has become home to the EuroLeague matches of LNB Pro A club LDLC ASVEL Lyon-Villeurbanne, with a crowd of 11,354 attending yesterday (Thursday) evening’s narrow 101-100 defeat to Bayern Munich.

LDLC Arena has been designed by Populous, which was also responsible for the adjacent 59,186-capacity Groupama Stadium and Training Centre, completed in 2016. The Arena has a capacity of 16,000 for concerts promoted by the global entertainment group and non-exclusive commercial partner Live Nation, and around 12,000 for sporting events.

It has also been designed to accommodate a range of other events such as large-scale seminars, trade shows, futsal, tennis and esports competitions. Work on the arena commenced in January 2022 and it is expected to host between 100 to 120 events per year.

The venue is owned by OL Groupe, which operates Ligue 1 football club Olympique Lyonnais, and announced a financing plan for the arena back in May 2022. Populous was awarded the contract to design the arena in July 2021, with Citinea, a subsidiary of Vinci Construction, overseeing the build.

OL Groupe also signed a long-term commercial agreement with Live Nation for the arena. The new arena forms the latest stage of the OL Valley venture, which saw a leisure and entertainment centre open next to the stadium in 2021.

LDLC, the computer and technology stores owner, acquired naming rights to the arena in December 2021 as part of an eight-year deal. LDLC is an existing sponsor of ASVEL Basket.

However, it was revealed in September that Olympique Lyonnais is seeking to give up part or full control of LDLC Arena as part of wider efforts by the club’s new ownership group to shore up its financial position.

US technology entrepreneur John Textor, through his holding company Eagle Football Holdings, completed a takeover of Lyon in December 2022, but has already encountered multiple challenges in his first year of ownership.

Textor said he was in the process of “paring off non-core assets to focus on football”, adding that Lyon had been “way too heavy on physical assets”. Textor said Lyon had invited bids for either 40% or full control of LDLC Arena, with a group led by ASVEL Basket president, Tony Parker, currently said to be in talks to acquire the venue.

ASVEL Basket has been playing games at the 5,600-capacity Astroballe arena, with Xavier Pierrot, director general of LDLC Arena and Groupama Stadium, stating the new arena represents a sea change in the level of facilities afforded to the club.

He told Franceinfo: “The big events will continue to go to Paris since Paris remains Paris. But we have artists who no longer come to the provinces who will double in number by coming to Lyon.

“In the same way that there is a gulf between the Stade de Gerland and the Groupama Stadium, it is the same thing between an old (venue) that we have in the metropolis of Lyon and a modern arena.”

Earlier this month, US wrestling promotion WWE announced that LDLC Arena would host its first premium live event in France on May 4 next year.