National Bowl

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National Bowl
MK Bowl Stage.jpg
Former names Milton Keynes Bowl
Location Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, England
Owner English Partnerships
Operator Gaming International/Live Nation UK
Type Stadium Amphitheater
Capacity 65,000
Opened 1979
Renovated 2012
National Bowl

The National Bowl (originally the Milton Keynes Bowl) is an entertainment venue located in Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, England. The site was a former clay-pit (for brick-making), filled in and raised to form an amphitheatre using sub-soil excavated by the many new developments in the area and it has a current maximum capacity of 65,000.[1] The arena is open-air grassland, without seats.


The venue opened in 1979, with gigs by Desmond Dekker and Geno Washington. In 1982, Genesis performed their reunion show Six of the Best at the venue with Steve Hackett and Peter Gabriel.

In 1983 on the 1,2, and 3 July David Bowie played three dates of the Serious Moonlight tour at the bowl, three sold out shows in intense heat to give us a treat we had not seen for years. He returned in 1990.

On 10 September 1988, Michael Jackson performed at the bowl during his Bad World Tour in front of 60,000 people.

In 1992, Sony/Pace bought the venue and re-branded it as the National Bowl, building a permanent massive sound stage. They pulled out in 1996 citing profitability reasons.

English Partnerships, which merged with the Homes and Communities Agency in 2008, bought the site in 2000. It is currently leased to a Gaming International/Live Nation UK consortium. In 2012, the original stage was demolished to make way for a new one in time for the Swedish House Mafia concert in July.[citation needed]

Development plans

2006 development plans

On 23 January 2006, Gaming International/Live Nation won a further lease in a competitive tender. The consortium made proposals for major developments in a a development summary leaflet (previously linked from the 'Backstage' section of the National Bowl website, now removed).

Gaming International handed The Bowl back to Milton Keynes Partnership towards the end of 2010 – so it is unlikely that any of the plans outlined in 2006 will ever be undertaken – apart from a temporary structure built close to The Bowl in summer 2010 which has a temporary three-year planning permission.

2014 proposed plans

In February 2014, the BBC reported that an investment company had proposed a new development at the site of Milton Keynes Bowl. This was planned to include the UK's largest water park, and a range of sports facilities and enhancements to the arena.[2] In July 2015, the investment firm leading the proposal announced that it would not proceed with the plan.[3]


Elfield Park

Gaming International already owns Elfield Park, a narrow strip of land on the other side of the A5 from the Bowl, between the A5 and the West Coast Main Line. They cleared a site for the new greyhound stadium there, having recently (2005) purchased it from English Partnerships, and evicted the speedway track and motocross club that had used it for 20 years. Greyhound racing in Milton Keynes was previously at Ashland (since 1966): Gaming International owned that too, but sold it to English Partnerships as a brownfield site for a 350 house development.[citation needed] (The sale of the latter funded the purchase of the former or vice versa). A section of the Elfield Park site is designated[4] as an educational nature reserve.

Milton Keynes Motor Auctions

Milton Keynes Stadium Car Auctions is housed on this strip of land. Car auctions are held there on Wednesday and Friday.


National Bowl is located in Milton Keynes
National Bowl
National Bowl, on Watling Street and Chaffron Way
zoom in

The Bowl is in south central Milton Keynes, at the junction of Watling Street with Chaffron Way, just north of Bletchley. Parking on site (MK5 8AA) is very limited so fans are encouraged to arrive by public transport. In addition to the shuttle buses from Milton Keynes Central railway station, it is also an easy walk (about 2 km (1.2 mi)) from the station using Sustrans National Cycle Route 51 from the south side of the station building.

See also


External links

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