SKY is launching a new events pay-per-view company, SKY Arena, and its first big gig will be Super 8, a last-man-standing boxing tournament.
A first for New Zealand, the event will be held on June 4 in Auckland. It has already attracted internationally-acclaimed heavyweight boxer Kali Meehan (nickname: Mean Hands), with other names to be announced shortly.
"This is an exciting development for everyone who loves sport, music and big gig action. We know Kiwis want local, live, content - just look at the Heineken Open and ASB Classic, both of which rate higher than Wimbledon," says SKY’s chief executive John Fellet.
"We will be working with New Zealand’s top promoters to offer a pay-per-view service for a wide range of live entertainment. Whether it’s sports events, music concerts, comedy gigs, SKY Arena will be interested."
The chief executive of SKY Arena is George Macfarlane, who has been leading SKY’s Strategy team for the past two and a half years. Before that, he worked in strategic development roles in London and San Francisco with eBay and Skype.
"Entertainment is at its best when it’s live and local and I’m excited about securing Super 8 as our first event," he says. "It’s a proven model overseas and offers a thrilling night of entertainment, with eight world-class boxers, seven fights and a total prize package of $500,000 making it the richest tournament of its type in the world. Unlike a traditional card, every fight will be a main event until there is only one man left standing.
"We’ve already confirmed the great Kali "Mean Hands" Meehan for the draw and are working with a number of leading international boxing matchmakers to land more top-notch fighters. Already, we are in the enviable position of selecting from some of the most exciting knockout artists in the world. It’s going to be a terrific night for Aucklanders and viewers throughout the country. With the All Blacks scheduled to play England in Auckland during that same week we’ll be doing our best to bring the rivalry between the 2 countries to the ring."
Since turning pro, Meehan has had 38 wins (31 knockouts) and just five losses. He’s NZ’s most accomplished heavyweight boxer currently, having fought and held multiple belts. A former #1 ranked WBA contender and former Australian champion (vacated), he also fought for the WBO heavyweight world title which he narrowly lost in a controversial decision against Lamon Brewster.
He lost against Hasim Rahman but only now will he talk openly about how he walked into the ring suffering from a neck injury. A little wiser and no longer under the management of Don King, he returns as the prodigal son to claim his crown as New Zealand’s best pro boxer.
Super 8 spokesperson Mark Keddell says: "You only need to review David Tua’s or Shane Cameron’s record against Kali’s to see Kali has fought for and held more international belts."
SKY Arena events will be shown live in HD nationwide, making it an ideal option for people who can’t secure tickets to sold-out gigs or can’t afford to travel to big-name acts. "The view will be a lot better too - up close and personal from the comfort of your own home, local club or favourite bar. No portaloos to deal with either!" says Macfarlane.
He says SKY Arena is already in negotiations to secure other great gigs - both sporting and musical - for New Zealanders to enjoy. "We expect to be announcing some impressive major events in the next few months."
SKY owns 75% of SKY Arena, which is based in Auckland, with the remainder held by VADR led by John McRae, who was the co-founder and a former owner of Duco Events.
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