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The rise and fall of the London Arena

Crossharbour

Recent residents and visitors who visit the Isle of Dogs will have great views of the O2 Arena , but how many realise that the Docklands for a short period had an Arena which had a seating capacity for over 15,000 people.

The London Arena (also known as the London Docklands Arena)  based near Crossharbour  was built as an indoor arena and exhibition centre. It  hosted concerts and sports events and was for a time the home of London Knights ice Hockey team, the London Towers Basketball team and later the London Leopards Basketball team from Tower Hamlets.

The first concert in the Arena was Duran Duran and it also featured the very popular at the time WWF wrestling.

First opened in 1989, it had a major £10 million refit in 1998,  it struggled to become a financial success,  and in 2005 it closed. The arena was demolished in 2006.

arena 1

Photo by Jonanamary

When we look at the phenomenal success of the O2 , it is hard to believe that the Arena could have failed , however the lack of a comprehensive  transport system and lack of access onto the Isle of Dogs for cars probably had a lot to do with its failure.

arena 2

Photo by Jonanamary

How many people out there came to a concert or game at the London Arena , send in your story.

 

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14 Comments

  1. karen says:

    I came here to see the Elvis in concert in 1999, fantastic concert.
    It was a good arena. I wondered what happened to it. Sad it was demolished.

  2. Steve says:

    Went to watch the London Knights there once as I was a student at the University of Greenwich, they were offering seats at promotional rates around 2000-time so must have been struggling for customers even then. Shame to see community space lost for more and more flats but that’s the way it is these days.

    • Hi Steve,

      Thanks for the comment, it is always interesting to hear from people who attended the arena.
      When you consider the success of the O2 arena, it seems that the London Arena was built at the wrong time in the wrong place.
      With improved transport it probably would be successful now !!

  3. Gee says:

    Went to see tony hawk skateboarding at this arena in 2002, great memories R.I.P London arena.

  4. Steve says:

    I’ve spent hours trying to find pictures of how this Arena looks like on the inside, its amazing how they’re virtually none.

    • Hi Steve,
      In the time I having writing this blog, it has amazed me how little photographic evidence survives of not necessarily obscure buildings. When I was researching the London Arena, I do not think I saw a picture of its inside. When you consider the number of events that took place that’s quite amazing.

    • Torsten Scholz says:

      Hi, if you want to see a bit of the inside of the Arena, watch Robbie Willliams’ “She’s the One” music video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sVaRHJn_dgM
      At 2:17 there is a sequence which was obviously shot inside London Arena, as you can quite clearly tell from the design, and there are even some London Arena logos clearly visible (Along with some figure skating world championship logos, which are obviously fake, as the arena never hosted such an event). I am also rather interested in the sad story of this short-lived, ill-fated and almost forgotten arena. It’s really sad that there are so few photos and other documents remaining today, despite the fact that although never doing well, it was London’s most modern and busiest indoor arena for 15 years. I agree that it was clearly set in the wrong place at the wrong time. If you consider the phenomenal success of the O2 as well as that of similar arenas like Manchester Arena, National Indoor Arena, Sheffield Arena, Newcastle Radio Arena, SSE Hydro or Odyssey Arena, you see what would have been possible here. If LA would have been at least situated a bit better in terms of road and public transport access and parking space, it would probably still be running successfully today.

      • Hi Torsten,

        Thanks for the information about the London Arena.

        Many people have good memories of the arena and I was surprised at some of the big names who played there.
        I agree with you that if the O2 had not taken off, the London arena might have had a future.

  5. Daniel says:

    Was there in 1991 for the WWF Wrestling UK Rampage Event. The commercial sill echoes in my head, “Be there, Wednesday, the 24th of April at the London Arena Docklands and live on sky movies plus” 😀 – Didn’t even know it got demolished, took me 10 years to find out, haha.. Always gives me a strange feeling to know that a place where i was once before, which was so lively, doesn’t exist anymore.

  6. Richard Moor says:

    Saw Pink Floyd there in 89. Was working in the City and the DLR was on strike so walked. Sore feet but happy memories.

    • Hi Richard,

      Thanks for the comment, I am constantly surprised who appeared at the Arena, did not realise Pink Floyd played there.
      Recently went to the Pink Floyd exhibition at the V and A, which is quite entertaining.

      Once again many thanks.

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