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The National Bowl is an entertainment venue in Milton Keynesmarker, Buckinghamshire, Englandmarker. 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.

The venue opened in 1979 with gigs by Desmond Dekker and Geno Washington. 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 bought the site in 2000. It is currently leased to a Gaming International/Live Nation UK consortium.

Status Quo

The National Bowl became famous worldwide as a music venue when Pete Kircher played an emotional final concert with Status Quo. Status Quo have since vowed never to play The National Bowl again in honour of their former bandmate.

Previous artists

Bands which have played at the National Bowl include :

For the list in date order, see the Bowl article on MKWEB.


2006 Development plans

On 23 January 2006, Gaming International/Live Nation won a further lease in a competitive tender. According to a development summary leaflet on the National Bowl website (see "Backstage"), the consortium plans for
  • the Bowl capacity to be increased from 65,000 to 75,000 to become the fourth largest arena in the UK.
  • a new arch stage, taller than the existing trees.
  • a pavilion for 2,000 people for indoor events all year round,
  • permanent (covered) skateboarding park— aimed at providing displays and possibly heats for the 2012 Olympics. The plans declare that it will be "complementary" to SK8MK near Milton Keynes Central railway stationmarker).
  • a new Milton Keynes Greyhound Stadium with restaurant and bars for 3,500. The planning application proposes a substantial casino element. This stadium will be in the northern corner of the site (currently used for parking) and not at Elfield Park as previously announced. Used car auctions will resume.
  • a "significant" improvement to the redway/Sustrans cycle route 51 and the wildlife 'corridor' through the park,
  • a children's playground and amenities, such as cafes and permanent toilets,
  • a four- or five-star, 120 bedroom, hotel and leisure complex,
  • a small sports pavilion for local organisations such as MK Cycling Club (who use the ring-road for time-trials etc.).
These proposals are subject to obtaining planning permission.

As of mid 2009, none of these projects appeared to have begun.

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 Linemarker. 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. (The sale of the latter funded the purchase of the former or vice versa). A section of the Elfield park site is designated as an educational nature reserve.

Milton Keynes Motor Auctions

Milton Keynes Stadium Car Auctions is housed on the strip of land. It previously was at Ashland next to the greyhound stadium. Car auctions are held there on Wednesday and Friday.


  • In 1982 a group calling themselves Six Of The Best for contractual reasons played their only gig at the venue. This band was in fact Genesis performing a one-off reunion concert with original singer Peter Gabriel and guitarist Steve Hackett. The concert was organised in order to help Gabriel pay off debts he incurred after he personally organised the first of the WOMAD events.
  • In 1993 Guns N' Roses played one of five reunion gigs with group founder, rhythm guitarist and lead songwriter Izzy Stradlin'.
  • Car boot sales are organized in the National Bowl every Sunday morning (06:00–12:00).
  • Bon Jovi have performed at the Bowl more than any other artist.

See also


  1. BBC photos of Green Day
  2. the concept drawing
  3. Parks Trust - Elfield Nature Park - The Parks Trust

External links

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