Leeds Arena

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Leeds Arena
Construction of the Leeds Arena (20th July 2012) 001.JPG
LocationClaypit Lane
Leeds
LS2
England
Coordinates53°48′11″N 1°32′32″W / 53.80306°N 1.54222°W / 53.80306; -1.54222Coordinates: 53°48′11″N 1°32′32″W / 53.80306°N 1.54222°W / 53.80306; -1.54222
Broke groundNovember 2008
OwnerLeeds City Council
OperatorSMG
Construction cost£60m
ArchitectPopulous (architects)
Project managerDavis Langdon, An AECOM Company
Capacity13,500
 
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Leeds Arena
Construction of the Leeds Arena (20th July 2012) 001.JPG
LocationClaypit Lane
Leeds
LS2
England
Coordinates53°48′11″N 1°32′32″W / 53.80306°N 1.54222°W / 53.80306; -1.54222Coordinates: 53°48′11″N 1°32′32″W / 53.80306°N 1.54222°W / 53.80306; -1.54222
Broke groundNovember 2008
OwnerLeeds City Council
OperatorSMG
Construction cost£60m
ArchitectPopulous (architects)
Project managerDavis Langdon, An AECOM Company
Capacity13,500

Leeds Arena is the name of an under-construction arena in the city centre of Leeds, West Yorkshire. The Leeds Arena will be a 13,500 capacity entertainment focussed arena, and will be the first in the United Kingdom to have a fan-shaped orientation.

Contents

Public demand for an arena in Leeds

A model of the Leeds Arena in the Leeds City Museum, the arena is modelled in darker wood.
Under construction in February 2012

Leeds has been the largest city in the United Kingdom without a major venue to hold music or indoor sporting events. As of February 2010, Bristol and Leeds are the only major cities without an arena style venue. Previously, the Queen's Hall was used for popular music concerts but this was demolished in 1989. Since 1989, there have been a number of failed attempts at building a major venue in Leeds.

An arena has been long requested by residents in Leeds. The consultation on the Vision for Leeds 2004 to 2020 showed a strong demand from the public for a new arena, and the project became one of the city's 12 priorities.[1] The Leeds Initiative formed a Cultural facilities task group to consider options. It appointed PMP consultants whose report outlined the viability of a Leeds Arena,and other potential projects such as a concert hall. The task group recommended that the Council proceed with the development of a 12,500 seat arena.

Whilst this study was taking place, campaigners including the Yorkshire Evening Post lobbied for a new arena to be built in the city. This resulted in a widescale 'Leeds needs an arena' campaign that had endorsements from local artists including the Kaiser Chiefs as well as local businesses and residents. The campaign was well publicised in local media, and included popular Myspace and Facebook groups.

Developer and operator competition

Following this, competitions began to find an operator and developer for an arena. In March 2008, SMG were chosen as the future operators of the Leeds Arena, following world wide interest from potential operators in the scheme.[2] SMG also operate arenas in Newcastle, Belfast and Manchester and operate over 200 venues worldwide.[3] The addition of Leeds strengthens their position in the UK Arena market. SMG's European managing director has stated that Leeds will be its "flagship venue" in Europe and that they expect Leeds Arena "to be in the top 10 in the world within two to three years of opening".[4][5]

Two main bidders were involved in the competition to develop the arena. These were the Council owned land at Elland Road as one location which would have been developed by GMI and land owned by Montpellier Estates in Sweet Street, Holbeck with Montpellier Estates being developer of the latter site.[6] However in November 2008, Leeds City Council announced they had terminated the developer competition and chosen Claypit Lane as the site for the new arena and would proceed as the developer. This resulted in a legal challenge from Montpellier Estates.[7]

Current plans

The arena's location, on Claypit Lane is situated at the Northern Quarter of Leeds city centre, behind the Merrion Centre and Morrisons Supermarket. The land the arena is being built on is the Claypit Lane Council car park and land formerly owned by Leeds Metropolitan University. Demolition of the former Leeds Metropolitan building was completed in 2009.

Independent economic impact assessments conducted by Yorkshire Forward show that the new arena will bring over £25 million to the local economy every year and bring 300 full time jobs. The money provided by Leeds City Council will come from part of the proceeds from their sale of Leeds Bradford International Airport in October 2007, Yorkshire Forward grant support and revenues from rent and commercial activities. The total scheme costs are estimated to be in the region of £80 million including land costs.

The arena will be constructed in a super theatre fan shaped format as opposed to the more conventional bowl or horse-shoe seating arrangement commonly used by most arenas in the United Kingdom.[8] The arena promises 'perfect sightlines' from each seat and the longest distance from the stage will be 68 metres as opposed to 95–110 metres at a traditionally designed Arena. According to the City Council, flat floor seating and 15 rows of retractable seating can be removed to create a huge floor area holding thousands of standing spectators. The interior design is flexible and the Leeds Arena will be able to accommodate a range of events including:

The external design was announced in August 2010. The external design has a honeycomb design. This design uses – a voronoi diagram – to create cellular shapes that are visible on key approaches to the arena.

On an evening, the front of the building will have the ability to change colour or pattern dependant on the show or mood of the arena at the time.

Construction

Leeds Arena is officially under construction as of May 2011 with the ground breaking taking place in the February.

Opposition from South Yorkshire

Yorkshire Forward's support and intended £18 million funding has gained much publicity and has been subject to fierce political fighting. Some critics outlined that public funding is common on most recent Arena developments as seen in the Manchester, Nottingham and Liverpool developments. Each arena gained public funding and this was not protested by other established arenas. However, there was some opposition to the Leeds Arena from the owners of Sheffield Arena and Clive Betts, MP for Sheffield Attercliffe, who believe that the arena would adversely affect Sheffield Arena especially as the Leeds Arena would acquire funding from Yorkshire Forward. However, Yorkshire Forward stated that they fully support the development of an arena in Leeds and that an independent economic impact assessment also showed that a Leeds Arena would be of benefit to the entire region.[9] Subsequently, Yorkshire Forward reaffirmed support to provide funding to the scheme. However, following a decision by BIS, central government initially did not authorise Yorkshire Forward to provide funding to the scheme. Soon after, it was announced that £9.9 million funding was authorised by central government. This was met with fierce criticism from Sheffield MPs, but received positive responses in the Leeds City Region.[10]

References

External links