Belfast Telegraph

The Odyssey is over as city venue officially becomes the SSE Arena

By Margaret Canning

Belfast's Odyssey Arena will be known as the SSE Arena from tomorrow as part of a major corporate tie-in with the energy company.

The city joins UK locations such as London and Glasgow which also have a venue bearing the name of SSE, which owns electricity firm SSE Airtricity in Northern Ireland.

The first event at the rechristened arena will be the Belfast Tattoo on September 4, which will feature marching bands, musicians, and dancers.

The venue once known as the Odyssey joins a range of other stadia and concert venues still affectionately known by their old name rather than the name of their corporate benefactor - in particular, east Belfast's Ulster Rugby ground Ravenhill/Kingspan and Ireland's national rugby stadium Lansdowne Road/Aviva.

Tony Axon, media director of advertising agency Navigator Blue, said the company is likely to be paying hundreds of thousands of pounds a year for the naming rights to the concert and ice hockey venue.

With the renaming agreement set up for a one-year period, it's likely to be a deal worth around £1m.

A long bedding-in period has been predicted for the new name - with many likely to refer to it as the Odyssey for months before the new name catches on.

But Mr Axon predicted that SSE will actually benefit from people calling it the Odyssey - before rapidly correcting themselves.

"It will help make the name SSE stick into people's consciousness," he said.

They will tell someone they're going to see something at the Odyssey before they're corrected by a friend who tells them it's now the SSE, so it's a conscious reminder."

The arena is closed for two months over the summer for a £3m upgrade. Seating at the venue is being replaced for the first time since its 2000 opening.

And improvements are also being made to its "digital infrastructure".

The renaming was announced in June when Robert Fitzpatrick, chief executive of arena owners the Odyssey Trust, said: "Our new branding partnership with SSE heralds the next exciting chapter in the continued development of Northern Ireland's iconic entertainment destination."

SSE Aitricity managing director Stephen Wheeler said: "The SSE Arena Belfast's upcoming refurbishment will ensure it continues to deliver world class events and entertainment to people across Northern Ireland.

"The range of sport and entertainment means there will be something for all our customers and we are delighted to be associated with the venue."

Belfast Telegraph