Cambodia’s first and only privately owned multipurpose indoor sports facility, the 2000-seat Beeline Arena, located on the Chroy Changavar peninsula, past the Japan Friendship Bridge in Phnom Penh, is gearing up for a year rich in diversity.
The exciting prospect of an international mixed martial arts competition, going by its brand as the Ultimate Khmer Championship, will soon be a reality. Apart from a clutch of sporting events, including sepak takraw, the arena will stage a range of recreational and entertainment events including “Musical Nites” and a circus show.
Owned and managed by Banzai, a Cambodian company with the sole aim of providing an international-standard arena for the Cambodian sports and people, the arena has been built in line with current European safety standards and regulations. Among its unique features is a FIFA-certified pitch for futsal.
The grandstand has been purchased from a Malaysian company, which is linked to the supplies for Formula One Grand Prix in India, Singapore and Australia; a 300-square-metre VIP lounge has been created at the first floor. When the arena went operational last year, cellphone giants Beeline bought the naming rights for a period of five years.
In an exclusive interview with Phnom Penh Post sports writer H S Manjunath, Beeline Arena Events and Marketing Manager Charles Juliard outlined the calendar of events for the year, touching on the strategic plans to diversify the activities at the arena with an impressive spread of sports, culture and entertainment. Here are some excerpts from that interview.
PPP: What was the main objective behind Banzai taking up this high-cost venture?
Charles Juliard: There are two main missions. The first one is to create a top-quality sport venue, for futsal, basketball, volleyball and all other indoor sports. The second is to give Cambodian sports greater visibility through key events at the arena, which aims to offer both professional and high-end equipment for the benefit of a large audience.
Q: What are your plans to keep the facility in use throughout the year?
A: Our strategy is to make it attractive for everyone and every kind, mixing sport, culture and entertainment. The idea is to bring events with international flavour never seen in Cambodia before. We have also a partnership with a local channel, TV5 Cambodia which organizes its national boxing event every Sunday and International boxing once a month. The next one will be on January 24. We also work with the Cambodian Federations so that they can make use of our facility. It is also open to individuals and teams on rent to pursue their training and professional event planners and companies for their activities.
Q: Tell us about the exciting prospect of high-profile MMA events coming up.
A: The Cambodian MMA Association was created at the end of 2012; I am involved in the project as communication adviser. The MMA event called UKC – Ultimate Khmer Championship – will include a total of eight fights and will give an opportunity for Cambodian fighters, who are already selected under a hard and professional training until the event, to compete at elite level against international fighters from the US, Malaysia, Korea, Brazil and Australia. The event will be produced by a company which is connected with the MMA International Tour. It is planned for end of March and will be beamed live by a TV partner to be picked soon. It will be the beginning of the MMA in Cambodia with more than 2,000 tickets, normal, VIP and VIP tables, available for this unique and thrilling competition.
Q: What other sporting events have you lined up for 2013?
A: The year will be rich in terms of events diversity. the line up is impressive, Sepak Takraw, second season Basketball Challenge, Warrior Fighting Night – live on TV5 Cambodia – a circus show from Battambang until March, a martial arts night, badminton, volleyball, futsal, table tennis and, above all beach volleyball, to be played on specially created layers of sand.
Q: Apart from sport, what other social, cultural and entertainment events have you in mind?
A: Our focus will be on exhibitions and seminars on agriculture, the environment, beauty and bikes. The first one will be launched in May 2013 and is likely to be different than any other shows done in Phnom Penh. Concerts, kids and family programs are also on the anvil. All I can tell you is that there are plenty of surprises in store.
Q: How is your partnership with the National Olympic Committee of Cambodia developing?
A: The Beeline Arena has been built to promote sport in Cambodia. It makes sense for us to work closely with the NOCC. We have the same goal and aspirations about promoting sport in Cambodia. A memorandum of understanding will be signed soon with the NOCC in order to promote the Arena to the federations interested in organising events at our facility.