American promoter AEG investing in Thai concert venues

Anschutz Entertainment Group, an American sports and music promotion agency, is betting on the Thai people’s passion for entertainment by investing over $300 million in building at least two concert venues in Bangkok in partnership with a local retail developer, the company announced last week.

“We will be a big game-changer for Thailand,” Adam Wilkes, president and CEO of Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) Asia, said at a press conference announcing the company’s plans.

Wilkes credited the Thai capital’s infrastructure, improving transportation systems and its popularity as a destination for tourists and other visitors as factors that convinced him it was worth the company’s while to invest in Thailand.

AEG will partner with The Mall Group, a local retail firm that owns a chain of shopping malls and mixed-use facilities under that name across the country, and also upscale, luxury department stores and mixed-use facilities in Bangkok such as Siam Paragon and Emporium.

The Mall Group’s Chairwoman Supaluck Umpujh has been described by Fortune magazine as the “Iron Butterfly” of Thai retail. This venture would be her company’s first foray into the highly competitive entertainment industry.

“I want to be the queen of the entertainment business, which my father worked in the past three decades,” Supaluck said in announcing the partnership, in which The Mall Group holds two-thirds ownership.

The partners will begin by building and operating the 16,000-seat Bangkok Arena and the 6,000-seat EM Live Theater. The first venue will be located near the BITEC convention center in Bang Na, on the outskirts of the city, and the second will be situated near the Emporium mall on Sukhumvit Road in the city center. Both will be built on top of shopping malls.

AEG will be handling the management of both theaters and collaborate with The Mall on marketing their events. They will host live music, sports, cultural events, and MICE (meetings, incentives, conventions, and exhibition) events. Thailand has been the leading MICE destination in Southeast Asia for several consecutive years.

Los Angeles-based AEG has over 150 arenas, stadiums, theatres, clubs and convention centers on five continents, including The O2 Arena, the Sprint Center and the Mercedes-Benz Arena.

“We share a common vision to create the best possible immersive experience in entertainment,” Wilkes said. “Southeast Asia is going through a transformation. As incomes rise and spending power increases, consumers in the region are demanding more sophisticated entertainment experiences.”