North-side view of the arena in 2014
|Former names||Pavilhão da Utopia (1998)|
Pavilhão Atlântico (1998-2013)
MEO Arena (2013-2017)
|Location||Rossio dos Olivais, 1990-231 Lisbon, Portugal|
|Public transit|| Gare do Oriente |
|Owner||Arena Atlântico S.A.|
|Operator||Arena Atlântico S.A.|
|Capacity||20,000 (concerts) |
|Construction cost||EUR55 million|
|Main contractors||Skidmore, Owings & Merrill|
Altice Arena (formerly MEO Arena; also referred to by its original name, Pavilhão Atlântico) is a multi-purpose indoor arena in Lisbon, Portugal. The arena is among the largest indoor arenas in the European Union and the largest in Portugal with a capacity of 20,000 people and was built in 1998 for Expo '98.
Plans to build a multipurpose arena in Lisbon date back to the first discussions of the Expo '98 Master Plan. At the time, the city lacked a versatile facility able to accommodate concerts, congresses and sporting events of big scope. The existing structures, both in Lisbon and in Portugal alike, either had limited capacity (up to 4,000 people), or were difficult to adapt to non-conventional events, such as world class indoor sports competitions. Another shortcoming of existing venues was the lack of technical infrastructure deemed necessary to host modern concerts, musicals and to allow for proper live TV coverage.
The country needed an arena to fill the existing gap between smaller indoor halls, like the Lisbon Coliseum, and open-air stadia. As a consequence, Portugal would not host games of important indoor sports championships and no major concerts would take place in the country in periods of cold and rainy weather.
The decision to build the Pavilhão Atlântico within the masterplan of Expo 98 allowed the arena to have a catchment area well beyond the city of Lisbon. Being a short distance from Gare do Oriente and several major highway interchanges, allows the arena to draw spectators from all over the country.
In July 2012, the arena was sold to Arena Atlântico S.A. for EUR21,2 million. In May 2013, Portugal Telecom acquired the naming rights to the venue, re-branding it as MEO Arena after its services brand MEO. In October 2017, following the acquisition of Portugal Telecom by Altice, the venue was renamed Altice Arena.
The building was designed by Portuguese architect Regino Cruz, who is the author of several government and office buildings in Brazil and in Portugal, in association with Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM). SOM has been awarded first prize in the contests for the Olympic stadiums of Manchester and Berlin, and is responsible for designing many big sporting pavilions in the US (Portland, Philadelphia, Oakland and Minneapolis). The studio is also a co-designer of the Vasco da Gama Tower, located at the northern end of the Parque das Nações in Lisbon. The shape of the Altice Arena is reminiscent of a large flying-saucer or horseshoe crab. Such a unique shape demanded out-of-the box thinking for its underpinnings, both for structural and symbolic reasons. The roof, for example, sits atop a wood grid, designed in the shape of a carrack. Being part of a world expo celebrating the world's oceans and 15th-century Portuguese discoveries, wood was considered more fitting than either concrete or steel.
The main goals of the design were: 1) Minimize the visual impact generated from such a big structure; 2) rational energy use; and 3) simplify the flow of spectators in and out of the building.
The main façade is oriented towards the south, which increases sun exposure during the colder winter months, at the same time preventing direct sunlight in the summer months. This exposure allows the reduction of heating and air conditioning costs, while at the same time natural ventilation outlets on top of the building provide air circulation and cooling. By placing the main floor 6.4 metres below ground level the architects allowed for a generously high roof, while at the same time reducing the external footprint and minimizing heat exchange (as a result of the smaller surface area exposed to the weather). The external glass façade is shaded by overhanging panels, designed to allow sunlight only during winter months. A system of external moving blinds further allows natural lighting to enter the pavilion.
Accessibility is also straightforward by means of a short stadium-seating-like external staircase that surrounds the entire building.
During EXPO'98, the building was called the Pavilion of Utopia and housed the spectacle "Oceans and Utopias".
The EXPO'98 theme was "Knowledge of the Seas or of the Future", and while other expositions approached the "ocean" themes from artistic, scientific or historical perspective, at the Utopian Pavilion, the designers took a symbolic, dreamlike, and/or magical approach to the exhibits. As such, during the 132 days of the exposition, the Pavilion was an open space to showcase works of imagination, reflecting the fears, myths and legends that throughout history, have been associated with the World's oceans. Visitors were awarded with sights of Daedalus, Greek Gods, mythical heroes such as Hercules, as well as colorful displays portraying the birth of mankind and gods, the Big Bang, the Deluge, Atlantis, the Age of Discovery and space travel, just to name a few. Written by François I. Confine and Philippe Genty, and produced by Rozon, the show (which was presented four times a day) mixed classic theatrical elements and modern multimedia technology.
The arena was also the final venue of the 1999 FIBA Under-19 World Championship, between USA and Spain. The 2001 IAAF World Indoor Championships, the 2002 World Fencing Championships and the 2000 ATP Finals also take place there.
One of the most remarkable non-sporting events to ever take place there were the MTV Europe Music Awards in 2005.
In September 2015, Web Summit co-founder and CEO Paddy Cosgrave announced that the event would be held in Lisbon for three consecutive editions, from 2016 to 2018. Congrave cited the local startup scene and a "cosmopolitan city with better infrastructure conditions and a larger number of hotel rooms" for the decision.
The three-day event held from November 7--10 at the MEO Arena, site of Expo '98, drew 53,056 attendees from more than 150 countries and more than 1,500 start-ups spread over 21 venues. Among the more than 600 speakers were a number of tech top executives from around the world, including John Chambers of Cisco Systems, Facebook CTO Mike Schroepfer, Twitter founder Jack Dorsey and Tesla's Elon Musk. Also speaking at the event were prominent figures from non-tech areas, such as U2 frontman Bono, Salil Shetty of Amnesty International and Joana Coles, Editor in Chief of Cosmopolitan, as well as footballer Luís Figo and both the Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa and Prime Minister António Costa.
On October 3, 2018, Paddy Cosgrave and Prime Minister António Costa announced a EUR110 million deal for Web Summit to remain in Lisbon until 2028. The deal includes doubling the capacity of Altice Arena and the surrounding fairgrounds (Feira Internacional de Lisboa).
The 2018 Web Summit, held from November 5--8, is expected to draw 70,000 attendees from 170 countries, 1,800 start-ups and 1,500 investors.[needs update] The speakers of 1,200 talks include Twitter co-founder and Medium CEO Evan Williams, Tim Berners-Lee, European Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager, President & Chief strategy officer at Samsung Electronics Young Sohn, Lisa Jackson as environmental director of Apple, Secretary-General of the United Nations António Guterres, Chief Brand Officer of WWE Stephanie McMahon, Pinterest CEO and Co-Founder Ben Silbermann, president and chief legal officer of Microsoft Brad Smith, Twitch CEO Emmett Shear, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, CTO and co-founder of Slack Cal Henderson, Booking.com CEO Gillian Tans, Shell CEO Ben van Beurden, Oculus Founder Palmer Luckey, TripAdvisor CEO Stephen Kaufer, Sophia The Robot, Major Lazer DJ Jillionaire (Christopher Leacock) and the 2016 Formula 1 World Champion Nico Rosberg.
The tenth installment of The Dave Matthews Band Live Trax series was recorded at Pavilhão Atlântico in May 2007.
Kylie Minogue performed there on July 4, 2009. It was the first time that Minogue performed in Portugal.
The Atlantic Pavilion is member of the Associação de Turismo da Lisboa (ATL, English: Tourism Association of Lisbon) and active member of the European Arenas Association (EAA). Through these connections the Altice Arena management has establish close relationships with the main auditoriums and arenas in Europe and benefited from their synergies of scale.
Media related to Altice Arena at Wikimedia Commons