O2 City Hall Newcastle

Newcastle, UK1271 seats

Built in 1927, the beautiful grade II listed O2 City Hall Newcastle is a major venue for the North-East of England.

When Academy Music Group took over the operation of the venue, they aimed to attract a lively line-up of events, including comedy, music and stage shows. As well as enhancing sound and lighting in the auditorium, they needed some events to offer audiences the buzz and intimacy that only an all-standing stalls area can create - meaning that the fixed stalls seating would need to be replaced with something altogether more flexible.

“When we acquired O2 City Hall Newcastle, we knew that it needed significant adjustments to reinstate it to its former glory and get it firmly back on the schedule for major touring acts” says Academy Music Group’s Chief Operating Officer, Graham Walters. “It’s a stunning room, one that has seen the biggest names in rock and pop over the last four decades. Investment in modern facilities - including the option to have an all-standing auditorium - had to be on the agenda to offer a flexible space, as well as keeping a seated configuration. This way, we can hugely extend the variety of live music and events to tour in Newcastle and make sure we preserve its future for people and the community to enjoy for generations to come.”

Having previously worked with Audience Systems on a number of venues including O2 Academy Glasgow, Academy Music Group approached us to provide practical removable seating. Their choice was the Matrix system, with its groups of auditorium chairs which slot into a grid layout of removable floorbars. Matrix is quick to lay out, space efficient, and easy to clean around, and is used at major entertainment venues throughout the UK, including The Royal Albert Hall and The O2 Arena.  

On a flat floor, Matrix chairs require no fixings, but because O2 City Hall Newcastle has a sloping floor, a little anchoring is required. Simple locator pins keep the seats in place. But even taking the locator pins into account – an extra operation than would normally be needed for Matrix seating – the operations team estimate that it takes the crew of thirteen people just three hours to get all 1,271 seats out of the building and onto a truck to be taken away for storage.

Keith Forshaw, Regional Property Manager for Academy Music Group said, “The Matrix seats from Audience Systems really are ideal for us – straightforward to move in and out, which is what we need given our busy programme. And, importantly, our guests in the stalls get to enjoy the show from a proper, comfortable theatre seat, which doesn’t feel temporary at all. We couldn’t be more pleased.”

With durable Espace 628 seats, upholstered in an antimicrobial fabric, the new stalls seating will provide comfort and ease of operation for many years to come. And does the auditorium look good? Well, the photos speak for themselves.


Photographs © Academy Music Group – Photography by Jim Ellam