Wembley Arena, originally Empire Pool, is an indoor arena opposite the Wembley Stadium in the London Borough of Brent. The building is used for music, comedy and family entertainment and for sport.
It was built for the 1934 Empire Games by Arthur Elvin and originally housed a swimming pool, as reflected by its former name, ‘Empire Pool’. The pool itself was last used for the 1948 Games.
Wembley Arena was renovated, along with Wembley Stadium, as part of the regeneration of the Wembley area. The arena refurbishment cost £35 million and the new arena opened to the public on 2 April 2006, with a concert by Depeche Mode. With 12,500 seats, it is London’s second largest indoor arena after the O2 arena and third largest indoor concert venue after the O2 and Earls Court, an exhibition hall which regularly stages concerts.
Since its opening in 1934, Wembley Arena has hosted many concerts of world famous music stars. When the venue was known as ‘Empire Pool’, it hosted the annual New Musical Express Poll Winners’ concert during the early 1960s.
Audiences of 10,000 viewed acts like The Beatles (who performed there three times), Cliff Richard & The Shadows, The Rolling Stones, Rod Stewart and The Who. Other artists whose shows were hosted in Wembley Arena are ABBA, Meat Loaf, Marillion, The Cure, George Michael, Barbra Streisand, Christina Aguilera, Beyoncé, Pink, Pearl Jam, Bob Dylan, A-ha, Madonna, Alter Bridge and Shakira. The X Factor UK final was shot at the Wembley Arena on 11 December 2011.
The Masters snooker tournament takes place here annually since 2006. During the 1948 Games, the venue hosted the boxing, diving, swimming, and water polo events. More recently netball, darts, basketball and cage fighting appears regularly on the calendar. The venue will host the badminton and rhythmic gymnastics events of this year’s Games.
Badminton at the 2012 Games is scheduled to be contested between 28 July and 5 August at Wembley Arena. There will be 172 athletes competing in five events: Men’s Singles, Women’s Singles, Men’s Doubles, Women’s Doubles and Mixed Doubles.
For the first time there will be a combination of group play and knock-out stages in the badminton competition. All matches will be the best of three games, and each game will be won by the first player to reach 21 points. If the score reaches 20-20, the winner will be the first player to lead by 2 points. If the score reaches 29-29, the player who wins the next point wins the game.
The women’s rhythmic all-around competitions at the 2012 Games will be held at Wembley Arena on 9-12 August. There will be two events, individual and group. Rhythmic gymnastics is a competition for female contestants, while artistic and trampoline events feature men’s competition.
The Individual All-Around competition features two phases: the qualification round and the final. Each athlete performs with each apparatus in the qualification round, and the top 10 athletes advance to the final for one more routine with each apparatus. The gymnast with the highest total score in the final wins the event.
In the Group competition qualification round, the five gymnasts in a group perform with five balls for the first routine. Then, in the second routine, they perform using three ribbons and two hoops. The scores for these routines are added together. The top eight groups then progress to the final, where they compete again in two routines.