Today, the UNO Lakefront Arena, which was designed by architects Arthur Q. Davis and Nathaniel Curtis and built on The University of New Orleans’ 90-acre East Campus for $38 million, celebrates 40 years of rich history including more than 1,200 concerts, nearly 900 commencement ceremonies, as well as upwards of 1,200 basketball games and events.
Since opening its doors on Nov. 1, 1983, with Lionel Richie and The Pointer Sisters, the Arena has been a world-class destination for live entertainment – bringing in more than seven million patrons to experience legendary artists, global leaders, family entertainers, thousands of graduates, exceptional athletes and many more icons.
“Over the last four decades, the UNO Lakefront Arena has become an international beacon for arts and entertainment where people of all ages feel welcome,” said Gov. John Bel Edwards. “Whether a commencement ceremony, concert or athletic competition, events are a reflection of the importance of our higher education institutions. That’s why I’m so proud of our consistent bipartisan investment in higher education in my eight years as Governor. Congratulations to the Lakefront Arena team and the UNO community on this notable achievement.”
In partnership with promoters such as MarchOne Music, AEG, PGA Music, North American Entertainment, FELD Entertainment, Live Nation, VStar Entertainment and Beaver Productions, the Lakefront Arena continues to entertain people across all generations and has welcomed the likes of Pope John Paul II, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Bill Clinton, John Kerry, Jimmy Buffett, Jeff Dunham, Billy Strings, KISS, Cyndi Lauper, Lady Gaga, James Taylor, Motley Crew, REM, The Black Keys, Widespread Panic, Madonna, Arcade Fire, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Nicki Minaj, Wiz Khalifa, Sting and even Mickey Mouse and all his Disney friends.
Several movies including “Grudge Match,” “The Dirt,” “Now You See Me,” “Disney Crossover,” “Heaven's Prisoners” and “Green Lantern” have been filmed at the Lakefront Arena as well.
“Happy 40th to all the great Lakefront Arena staff. I've had the honor of working with Marco and his staff for what seems like countless years. They really work hard to ensure that every presentation at UNO is an exceptional experience for the fans and artists. It’s always a joy for my artists, in particular Widespread Panic, to see the Arena on the books. Congratulations to all at UNO for your hard work and success,” said Buck Williams, The Progressive Global Agency.
Home to the UNO Privateers, the Lakefront Arena has hosted thousands of athletic events and tournaments – such as the Sun Belt Conference, Larry Bird's career-high of 60 points on March 12, 1985, against the Atlanta Hawks, who hosted a series of special home games in New Orleans during the 1984–1985 season as well as a match between tennis greats Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert Lloyd. The Arena’s Aquatic Center welcomes over 100,000 visitors annually, and its Olympic-size pool provides a training ground and hosts state and national swim competitions.
“My entire life and career have been with the University of New Orleans and the Lakefront Arena,” said Associate Vice President Auxiliary Enterprises and Lakefront Arena General Manager Marco Perez. “I started when the Arena opened its doors, so this is a poignant moment not only for this venue, but also in my career. I have been privileged to work with great people in the entertainment industry and a solid group of exceptional colleagues at the Arena, both on the management level and events staff, many of whom have become like family. While we have not been without challenges along the way, we have always worked together to ensure that our grand venue continues to shine, year after year.”
The Lakefront Arena sustained significant damage from Hurricane Katrina in 2005. After receiving $25 million for repairs and renovations from FEMA, the Arena re-opened its doors to the public on May 2, 2008. Newer additions to the Arena have included both private and public spaces such as Spotlights, One Lounge, The G4 Bar, Pier 504 and Skybox.
“For four decades, the Lakefront Arena has been the setting for unforgettable memories and joyful experiences for the people of metro New Orleans and beyond,” said Dr. Kathy Johnson, University of New Orleans President. “It is an exceptional and in-demand venue for concerts, performances, graduations and festivals. But it is so much more. Like the University of New Orleans, the Arena is a true community asset that occupies a unique niche in the region. This is a milestone worth celebrating.”
“Congratulations to the University of New Orleans and their Lakefront Arena on reaching this momentous milestone,” said New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell. “Having served UNO and the City of New Orleans for 40 years, we reflect on the importance of the Lakefront Arena, from hosting youth and collegiate sports and engaging community events to fun-filled concerts and festivals throughout the years. Thank you to the University and the Arena's professional staff for continuing to provide our residents with a multi-purpose gathering space and high-value entertainment right on our beautiful Lake Pontchartrain."
“I always look forward to playing Lakefront Arena,” added Brian Alden, President of North American Entertainment Group, Inc. “It gives me the opportunity to enjoy two great treats –
the wonderful food in NOLA and the terrific building manager at Lakefront Arena, Marco Perez – making money is secondary – but also an added pleasure.”
The Lakefront Arena will close out another successful year with The Winter White House Party’s lineup that includes Maze featuring Frankie Beverly, Cameo, and Midnight Star (November 3); Louisiana’s very own Kevin Gates (November 4); The Reunion Tour with Kirk Franklin, Tye Tribbett, The Clark Sisters, David & Tamela Mann and Israel Houghton (November 18); Theo Von’s Return of the Rat Tour (November 24); and, a three-night performance of Billy Strings (December 29, 30 and 31). Early next year, the Arena will welcome families for “First Time in Forever” Disney On Ice presents Frozen & Encanto (March 28-31).