It was six months to the day since the Leeds arena had officially opened. So a good day to ask the question that’s been being asked in Sheffield for years: had the Leeds arena harmed the Sheffield one as everybody feared it was going to?, the presenter asked.
Reassurance was promptly at hand.
“There are plenty of acts to go round and they (the two arenas) can work together very well,” a reporter from Radio Leeds contributing to the programme said.
Which got me thinking … Was he just being nice? Are there really enough acts to go round? And is each of the arenas getting enough of the good ones to keep them cheerful? And solvent?
So I had a look at which acts are appearing this year at each of our region’s three competing arenas – Leeds, Sheffield and Manchester.
And here’s what I found.
First, the EXCLUSIVE ACTS that each of the three have either hosted since February or are going to host by the end of 2014.
Let it be noted: not just one gig, but FIVE NIGHTS of the Bublémeister, two of Beyoncé, and one of Lady Gaga.
Why the Manchester Phones 4U Arena gets these massive names and Leeds and Sheffield don’t isn’t clear.
Is it about the arena’s capacity and/or layout? Do Beyonce and Lady Gaga demand a stage of a certain size and type to strut their stuff on?
Or maybe they aren’t coming to Leeds this time around because it wasn’t established on the circuit when the bookings were made?
Who knows? Time will tell.
Still, Leeds has got some exclusives too. Not as many, but some.
After a pretty storming start last year – Springsteen, Rod the Mod, Elton John, Stereophonics, Field Commander Cohen, Sports Personality of the Year – there are four acts booked for the Leeds first direct arena during the rest of this year that aren’t going to either Sheffield or Manchester.
Three of them are admittedly pretty big ‘old-school’ names, though none have sold out yet (unless you believe Clapton sold out when he left The Yardbirds).
The four exclusive events at Sheffield’s Motorpoint Arena are in a different league: the Spanish Riding School of Vienna, a higher education convention, motocross, and ice hockey.
What about the other acts that are doing the rounds this year?
Well, a lot of them are going to all three arenas: Ant and Dec, McBusted, Miranda Hart, Gary Barlow, X-Factor Live, Dancing on Ice Live, (endless nights of) Lee Evans, John Bishop, Premier League darts, Diversity …
Then there are the acts who are appearing in two of the three.
Which sadly means more bad news for Sheffield:
Add the 15 acts above to the one-stop wonders listed earlier … and that’s a lot of big names that are driving up or down the M1 without stopping off at the Motorpoint.
That’s not to say that Sheffield aren’t getting some decent acts. Here are the ones that are bypassing Leeds and going to both Manchester and Sheffield.
(“Kylie’s coming! And she’s not going to Leeds!” crowed the BBC Radio Sheffield breakfast presenter yesterday.)
So, what are Leeds and Sheffield both getting that Manchester isn’t? Something stellar?
Erm … Disney on Ice and WWE Wrestling.
How else can we measure how this battle of the Arenas is going?
There’s takings (but we’re not likely to hear about them).
And there’s bookings.
They’ll all be adding more, of course, but here’s how many events have currently been announced (more may have already been booked) from today through to the end of the year (288 days) in each of the three arenas.
Enough acts to go round? I’m not convinced.