Case Study: MTV Awards Event Infrastructure

The Assignment

The 2017 MTV Europe Music Awards returned to London for the first time in 21 years for a show hailed as one of the biggest and most technologically advanced in the event’s history.   Hundreds of stars gathered at the famous SSE Arena, Wembley to see Shawn Mendez take the award for Best Artist ahead of Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran. The Canadian singer completed a hat-trick on the night as he also scooped the awards for Best Song and Biggest Fans.

Ed Sheeran picked up the award for Best Live Act while worldwide award winners included Stormzy, for the UK and Ireland, and Lil Kleine for The Netherlands. Singer Rita Ora hosted the show which was staged in the SSE Arena, Wembley with Neptunus appointed by the organisers to provide a wide range of temporary infrastructure required for one of the major events in the music industry calendar.

The Solution

On a bitterly cold evening in the UK capital the stars attending MTV EMA were surely grateful for Neptunus’ Alure Globe glass-domed structure which enclosed the VIP walkway, protecting the celebrities from the chill wind as they passed along the red carpet to pose for photographs for the world’s media. At 120-metres long, the structure was as long as the football pitch at the nearby Wembley Stadium.

In addition to the red carpet facility, Neptunus’ technicians built a further 7,000 square metres of Alu Halls in the shadow of the arena to accommodate artists’ changing rooms, press areas, administration offices, catering facilities and toilets for artists and crew. It took a team of 20 Neptunus technicians just two weeks to build all the facilities with the company also responsible for scaffolding, heating, air conditioning, lighting and bespoke ramping and stairs.

The Challenge

The Sunday awards evening fell just 48 hours either side of two sell-out football matches at  Wembley Stadium where England played hosts to World Champions Germany before the MTV EMA event and afterwards to Brazil – both fixtures attracted crowds of over 80,000 spectators.

The VIP walkway spanned an area used by football fans to access Wembley Stadium which meant that Neptunus’ technicians had to wait until the day after the Germany game, and on the eve of the awards night, to complete the final 30-metre long section of the red carpet structure.  Then, immediately after the awards ceremony was over, they had to remove that section again in time for the Brazil match.

The terrain outside the SSE Arena, Wembley has a slope leading up to the building which meant the red carpet structure had to be built on a scaffold platform elevating the facility three metres at the entrance and rising to a height of four metres.  In addition the 10 metre wide entrance to the VIP Walkway had to be constructed within a tree canopy  just 11 metres wide – not just an extremely tight fit for the structure but also providing a technical challenge for the build crew in which to work and manoeuvre equipment.

The Verdict

April Trasler, Neptunus Managing Director, said: “In 2016 we were asked by MTV to build a red carpet VIP structure for that year’s event in Rotterdam. As a result of our performance last year MTV asked us to supply facilities to their 2017 edition in London where they also required a range of additional structures to complement the facilities within the main SSE Arena, Wembley.  The fact that the MTV Europe Music Awards coincided with two major England football matches presented us with the opportunity to demonstrate our expertise and flexibility to build temporary facilities – of the highest quality and on schedule – no matter how demanding and challenging the environment.”

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