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[Article] A point in the future (Dublin O2 Arena)


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Mike Adamson, CEO of Live Nation, and Damian Devaney, marketing director of O2, at the O2 Arena



AFTER a year-long facelift that forced music fans to tramp south of the Liffey to get their live fix, the re-christened and revamped Point Depot will open in just three months' time.


The line-up for the official opening of the rather unimaginatively named O2 Arena on December 16 is still a closely guarded secret, although the Kings of Leon have been confirmed for two nights later. Counting Crows and Coldplay will also take to the new stage in the following days.


And while its owners were reluctant to reveal the final bill for the epic transformation, they were more than happy to offer a sneak peek of the new interior yesterday.


The old Point, which played host to all the music heavyweights of the past 20 years including U2, Smashing Pumpkins and REM, is now virtually unrecognisable.


Fully-seated it has a capacity of 9,500, compared to 8,500 a year ago. But, with one of the largest retractable seating systems in the world, this can rise to over 14,000.


While the old stage lay to the southern end of the Dublin venue, in its new incarnation the stage now stretches almost the entire length of the western side of the building.


And for those who like to get up close and personal with their music heroes, the new seat lay-out means that punters will never be more than 60 metres from the front of the stage. The classic amphitheatre design of the new arena also means there will be no more pillars to obstruct the view of the stage.


Meanwhile, the owners hope that a total of 14 bars and 250 toilets will keep queuing to a minimum.


Unveiling the new venue, chief executive of Live Nation Ireland, Mike Adamson, said: "We will now be able to attract the biggest and best artists, and their full shows, to the O2 for music fans in Ireland."


Such ambitions were not always possible in the past. When singer George Michael played the Point he could only fit three-quarters of his total tour production onto the stage.


Shane McGowan and the Pogues were the first act to perform at the Point when it opened in 1988. A host of stars have been confirmed to play in 2009, including Tina Turner, Kenny Rogers, New Kids on the Block, Boyzone and Keane.


Blockbuster names such as U2, AC/DC and Madonna have all been approached to appear at the venue next year.


It is thought that the Material Girl, who headlined Slane in 2004, could be interested in playing at the O2. She has never staged an indoor show in Ireland as no venue has been big enough to cater for her staggering production requirements.


The O2 Arena is expected to stage 150 performances a year, bringing thousands of people north of the Liffey again.


Music fans will be able to get to the venue more easily once the Luas extension is completed. A three-platform station will service the venue and the Point Village which includes a hotel, multiplex cinema, bars, restaurants and shops.


- Breda Heffernan and Eamon Sweeney



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