Stephanie Bax had just moved to London to open CAA Icon’s international office, when the world went into lockdown. Eighteen months later, she’s looking forward to finally meeting people in person again.
CAA Icon’s first mandate is acting as owner’s representative on Co-op Live in Manchester, England, Oak View Group’s first U.K. arena. According to Bax, “This project is going to completely shift the industry and provide a venue not yet seen in the U.K. It will be the largest yet most intimate arena in the U.K., and also the most sustainable from both a design and operations perspective.” But there’s more in the pipeline, she said: “We are engaged on a combination of stadium and arena projects in various stages of activation and pre-development across Europe” that will be announced soon.
When Bax is taking on a consultancy role like in Manchester, her focus is user experience. “That obviously means the patrons, but also includes the talent and the staff that use the facility. Coming out of the pandemic, I believe there is going to be a focus on the ‘health’ of venues. Users want confidence that they are safe going to your venue, and after 18 months, they want a seamless and immersive entertainment experience,” she said. In 2021, a “healthy” venue also needs to be sustainable, the definition of which is broadening, according to Bax.
“It’s not enough to design sustainably anymore,” she said. “We must build, fit out, and operate buildings sustainably. Creating ‘healthy’ buildings for the users, the communities they exist in and the global environment is going to be essential moving forward.”
Bax grew up in a small town in the western Canada province of Saskatchewan. “I have accomplished and seen more than my 8-year-old self ever could have dreamed,” she said. “I think that girl would be proud of how I embraced a nontraditional career path to become a leader not only in my field, but as an executive at CAA Icon. I strive to be a role model for our staff, and some of my proudest moments have been seeing them blossom into fearless leaders.”
“It’s not enough to design sustainably anymore. We must build, fit out, and operate buildings sustainably.”