General Entertainment Authority chief sets out Kingdom Arena upgrade plans

Featured image credit: Al Hilal

Turki Alalshikh, chairman of the board of directors of the Saudi General Entertainment Authority (GEA), has called on Pro League football club Al Hilal to back proposed upgrades for Riyadh’s Kingdom Arena.

Al Hilal, the reigning Pro League champion, moved into Kingdom Arena at the beginning of the year. The indoor stadium was built in 60 days and can accommodate more than 40,000 people, however its capacity is restricted for football matches.

Al Hilal in September agreed a deal with the GEA for the then Boulevard Hall to become Kingdom Arena as its new home. Writing on Twitter/X, Alalshikh has now said upgrades for the stadium can be delivered within 90 days of the club’s approval.

He said: “We are ready to implement this development now. The stadium’s capacity is 18,800 seats, with around 1,200 additional seats allocated for filming and logistics, which are not available for the audience.”

Alalshikh added: “With the new development, we will reach 26,700 seats ready for the audience to watch in the highest quality, along with 14 VIP boxes on the opposite side.”

Alalshikh also disclosed how innovative Saudi technology could aid the ‘priority for events’ agreement for Kingdom Arena between Riyadh Season and Al Hilal.

He said: “This technology will be used for the first time in world stadiums. It involves columns planted under the stadium’s surface, which emerge when the field is covered with aluminium panels equipped with agricultural lighting, nutrition, and ventilation technology without affecting the field.

“This allows for the facility to be rotated within 48 hours instead of 10 days, making it easier for us and Al Hilal to use with minimal conflict. The patent for this technology will be registered with international football federations.”

Alalshikh also moved to clarify the terms of the lease deal Al Hilal signed for Kingdom Arena, which was reported to be worth SAR40m (£8.36/€9.92m/$10.67m) per year back in September.

He added: “It is not true that the stadium rent is SAR40m. While we do collect SAR40m, Al Hilal only pays SAR15m, with Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal covering SAR25m for the naming rights of Kingdom Arena. Al Hilal’s revenue has increased significantly with successful partnerships during Riyadh Season and Riyadh Calendar.”