Ruben Caruana, managing director of the Maltese events company Sign-It, was impressed by the TFS when he saw it in action, hosting concerts of up to 10,000 fans, when it was used as the temporary Wembley Arena Pavilion venue during the refurbishment of Wembley Arena, London. At the time he was researching solutions for a large exhibition, conference and concert venue in his Malta.
Arena's account director, Simon Marsh, supervised the removal of the TFS from Wembley and its delivery in Malta. At the same time, Arena dealt with the arrival of 20,000sq.m of temporary structures' equipment from other clients, including the Ryder Cup. Arena's operations division ensured that the 14 x 12 metre containers were packed in a carefully ordered shipping sequence. The Company also managed full export licences, documentation and precise transportation logistics.
Simon Marsh spent 18 months helping to plan the venue, sited next door to Malta's national stadium near Valetta. Surveys and preparation were completed in collaboration with MFCC, who installed drainage, foundations and tarmac on the previously barren ground prior to starting the build on 30 October.
Dean Canning, Arena's senior construction manager, led a team of six from the UK, plus six local crew, and completed the 50m x 130m venue (the same dimensions as Wembley Arena Pavilion) in four weeks. The MFCC also invested in a full temperature control system, event mains power, new toilet and catering facilities, and three specially designed arches with 35 tonne capacities. The arches are built on rails so they can be positioned anywhere along the venue, allowing it to meet the demands of any international touring production.
Sister company Arena Seating supplied 2,500 tiered grandstands seats to augment the 5,000 flat seats already present on the Island.
The MFCC opened its doors this December with a conference for 2,500 delegates from Thomas Cook, which incorporated an exhibition and gala party night. The general public had its first glimpse of the venue at a national bank holiday open day for the public featuring a World Championship motor cycle stunt display and artists' installations. Three days later an opening concert by tenor Andreas Bocelli was enjoyed by a capacity 8,000 audience.
At the opening ceremony Malta's Minister of Tourism and Culture, Hon Dr Francis Zammit Dimech, commended all the partners, and congratulated them in overcoming many hurdles to create a venue that the island can be proud of.
"This is an incredible venue with the versatility to host any event," he said. "It will radically improve the events culture of Malta and bring considerable economic benefit to our beautiful island. We can now offer a world class venue for exhibitions, conferences and concerts."
Arena Structures' managing director, Grahame Muir, says: "It has been great to see this project come to fruition and I am sure the MFCC will be a huge success, bearing in mind the enthusiasm of the people and the climate and beauty that Malta offers event organisers. It has also highlighted that our TFS is a very cost-effective solution to create a flexible yet permanent venue and we have received significant interest from other Southern Mediterranean and North African countries."