The Bristol Arena project has moved a significant step closer to realisation with the announcement that the UK’s largest arena operator SMG, in partnership with international live entertainment company Live Nation, have been named as preferred bidders to operate the Bristol Arena.
City Mayor George Ferguson told Cabinet Members that he believed that it represented a fundamental milestone in the development of the new arena.
“Interest from bidders in operating the 12,000 capacity Bristol Arena has been highly competitive. SMG and Live Nation will bring the combined expertise of two global businesses experienced in running arenas worldwide and delivering exciting programmes of concerts and events. Their bid represents a good deal for the city and gives yet further confidence of a firm footing on which to move forward towards a 2017 arena opening when we can look forward to welcoming world-class performers to the region.”
SMG President & CEO Wes Westley added: “Both SMG and Live Nation are delighted to be named the preferred bidder for Bristol Arena. We think the Arena will be a fantastic venue for future entertainment and community events. This unique partnering of global giants Live Nation and SMG will ensure that the Arena is operated at a world-class level with top events for Bristolians and the South West.”
Paul Latham, chief operating officer for Live Nation Entertainment, said the Arena project could “contribute significantly to the city’s economic growth and profile”.
If negotiations are successful the operator will be contracted to programme the venue, input into its design, and maintain and manage the Arena for the duration of the 25-year lease which is being awarded.
The news follows the announcement last month of the shortlisted design teams for the arena, following a Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) design competition.
The shortlisted teams of architects and engineers are: Grimshaw – architects of the Eden Project; Idom Ingeneria y Consultoria – designers of the Bilbao Arena; Populous – architects of the London Olympics Stadium; White Arkitekter – masterplanners for Kiruna, Sweden, and Wilkinson Eyre – architects of the Liverpool Arena. Proposals from each design team will be displayed in public in January.
The £90m, 12,000-capacity Arena is set to be located on the former diesel depot site next to Bristol Temple Meads railway station in an Enterprise Zone. The project is expected to bring millions of pounds of additional spend and over 900 jobs to the region.
Live Nation manages 150 venues, including arenas in Cardiff, Sheffield and Dublin and the O2 Academy Network which includes O2 Academy Bristol. Live Nation also promotes 60 Festivals worldwide and manages over 200 global acts from the World of Music, Sport, Comedy and Theatre.
SMG is the world and UK’s largest entertainment venue operator, managing 243 venues including operating arenas in Manchester (20,000 Seats), Leeds (13,000 Seats), Newcastle (11,400) and Belfast (12,000).
The Bristol Arena timetable is for the period up to January 2016 to be devoted to sourcing the design team and appointing the building contractor. The council then hopes work will start on site in 2016 with completion by the end of 2017.