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April 16, 2008

Emirates Stadium flies high at Visit London Awards

Arsenal football club is currently excelling both on and off the pitch. Not only are the players making light work of the Premier League this season, but the team’s venue, Emirates Stadium, scored twice at last week’s Visit London awards.

The venue secured Gold for Business Venue of the Year and Silver in the Sports Tourism category, recognising Emirates’ conference and banqueting business and stadium tours respectively.

The awards were an open vote among event industry professionals from around London, with Emirates Stadium being up against venues, such as Excel (which triumphed last year), The Barbican, Earl's Court and Tour de France Grand Départ 2007 (which took Gold in the Sports Tourism category). The result reveals that sports stadia in the capital and around the UK are now being taken seriously as event venues in their own right.

The prestigious annual Visit London Awards highlights the very best of business and consumer tourism in the capital, recognising the major contribution it makes to the lives of people living in London and, of course, the local economy.

Emirates Stadium has rapidly established itself as one of the most spectacular and successful sports stadia in the world. In addition, to the regular Arsenal home fixtures, over the last year Emirates Stadium has played host to international friendly matches and the Emirates Cup pre-season tournament, while also hosting nearing 1,000 events for businesses and individuals from around the capital and Europe.

The Stadium has seen over 100,000 tour visitors in its first year of business. A tour of Emirates Stadium has become a popular attraction, not only for Arsenal fans, but for visitors to the capital from around the world. Stadium Tours take place daily and enable visitors to get a sneak preview behind the scenes, with the option of exploring the Stadium with an ex-Arsenal player. The award was judged by senior business and tourism industry professionals.

Commenting on the venue’s successes, Arsenal's managing director, Keith Edelman, said: “Our vision has always been that Emirates Stadium would be known for more than just fantastic football. We want it to become a London landmark that businesses and individuals could enjoy on non-match days too. We are delighted to have been recognised by Visit London for both our events and stadiums tours, particularly against such illustrious competition.”

There was a surprise winner for Business Event of the Year in the shape of The London Borough of Havering Business Awards, which celebrates excellence in the local business community and is proving a huge success among companies in the Havering area. The award shows that well-organised events can prove highly successful at both the macro and micro scale.

Here’s a summary of the event and hospitality-related Visit London awards:

Business Venue of the Year
GOLD – Emirates Stadium

Business Event of the Year
GOLD – The London Borough of Havering Business Awards

Best Tourism Experience
GOLD – Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum and Tour

Large Hotel of the Year
GOLD – The Dorchester

Small Hotel/B&B of the Year
GOLD – The Halkin

Sports Tourism Award
GOLD – Transport for London: Tour de France Grand Départ

Look out for a review of major sporting conference and meetings facilities in London (including Emirates Stadium) this week on EVENTS:review, plus the video review of the Visit London awards, including an interview with chief executive James Bidwell, over the coming weeks.

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