From drive-in cinemas, car park boxing, comedy in the car park and the Young Driver Scheme, through to the work in supporting the NHS and Sheffield Teaching Hospitals, the venue has welcomed over half a million people during ‘shutdown’, bosses have revealed.
Now the Arena, along with its sister venue Sheffield City Hall, are planning to reopen for events and have launched a recruitment drive across a wide range of roles. It wants anyone interested in working at the venues to visit www.sheffieldcitytrust.org/jobs.
Since hosting its last show – Cirque Du Soleil’s Crystal, in March 2020 – the Arena, like the rest of the entertainment industry, had to close its doors to indoor entertainment and adapt its business model by hosting a new range of events to those that have regularly performed at the venue over the past 30 years.
In March 2020 and in support of the local Covid-19 response the it began working with Sheffield Teaching Hospitals as a storage and distribution centre for PPE and hospital equipment and then a drive-through blood testing site with 50,000 vehicles using the venues drive-thru phlebotomy service for nine-months.
On January 25, 202, the Arena then opened to the public as Vaccination Centre in what bosses described as the most important event the venue has and will ever host!
Since then it has been a 24/7 operation involving over 500 volunteers, clinical staff, administrators, stewards and Sheffield City Trust staff.
When the Sheffield Arena Vaccination Centre closes next week – on Friday, July 23 – more than 400,000 people will have received their vaccination at the venue, with the 173 consecutive event days creating a Sheffield Arena record unlikely to ever be beaten.
The longest previous engagement at the Sheffield Arena was set by Les Misérables when the West-End show performed at the venue for 35 consecutive days in 1999.
From July 26 the new Sheffield NHS Vaccination Centre will be based at Longley Lane, Sheffield, adjacent to the Northern General Hospital.
As soon as the Vaccination Centre moves out of the Arena venue staff will be working flat out preparing the venue for the new ice hockey season that opens on Sunday, September 19, when the Steelers play Nottingham Panthers followed by local band Bring Me The Horizon and Gerry Cinnamon, who are both playing sold-out gigs at the venue before the end of the month.
Kirsten Major, Chief Executive, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “The Arena team and Sheffield City Trust have been incredible in their support for us managing the response to COVID-19.
"From storing stocks of PPE and other vital equipment to facilitating the establishment of the drive through blood testing service and finally becoming the home of one of our large NHS Vaccination Centres they have responded to our requests without hesitation and gone above and beyond what we asked.
"We would like to say a thank you to everyone involved and wish them well as they return to hosting fantastic events for us all to enjoy as lockdown restrictions ease. They have been a fundamental part of the NHS response to COVID in the city.”
Dom Stokes, Sheffield City Trust’s Head of Live Events and Venues who is responsible for managing Sheffield Arena as well as Sheffield City Hall, said: “We are extremely proud of the role Sheffield Arena has played in being front and centre of the city’s response to Covid-19 and the vaccination programme.
"As an organisation, our core values are promoting and enhancing the health and wellbeing of communities, so it has been fantastic to be able to utilise our heritage and event logistics skills to support our community and the health services over this period .
“Our priority now however is the future and to prepare to relaunch our amazing venues and reopen when we are allowed. In truth that work has never stopped and we are now looking forward to being able to welcome people back to the Arena to enjoy the many events we have scheduled in the coming weeks and months.”