6 July 2014

STUNNING new images showing how the new Leeds Arena will look have been unveiled at MIPIM.

The 'super theatre' design, which guarantees every seat in the house enjoys perfect sightlines, is a first for the UK and will see the 13,500 capacity ar

A world beating team has been assembled to work on the arena, scheduled to open in 2012.

SMG Europe, a world leader in the operation of indoor arenas which also operates Manchester's MEN Arena, has signed a 25-year lease on the new entertainment space which will be its flagship venue.

The arena will be developed by Leeds City Council with support from Jacobs, its strategic partner for the design and delivery of major construction and infrastructure projects.

Jacobs is one of the world's largest providers of building and construction services and is leading on the design of the arena as well as the refurbishment of Leeds City Varieties and the design of new Northern Ballet Dance theatre.

Global design practice Populous is supporting Jacobs in the design of the new arena. With a portfolio that includes the New Wembley, Arsenal's Emirates stadium, London's O2 and Dublin arena in portfolio, Populous is a recognised leader in the design of arenas and sporting venues.

Davis Langdon, one of the world's most experienced construction consultancies, has been appointed as quantity surveyor and employer's agent for the arena to ensure the project is delivered to schedule and within budget.

An outline planning application was submitted in November 2009, and a decision on that is expected shortly. The council is also close to announcing the preferred contractor to build the arena, with construction on course to start by the end of the year.

Detailed design work on the internal configuration of the arena is already at an advanced stage and features a unique 'super theatre' where the seats fan out from the stage. This guarantees that every seat enjoys perfect sightlines of centre stage with 68m the longest distance from the stage as opposed to 90-95m at a conventional arena. SMG will also seek to enter into a naming rights agreement with an organisation to sponsor the pioneering arena.

John Sutherland, managing director of SMG Europe, said: "This is a 'next generation' venue and the design will be the first of its kind in the UK. We expect the vast majority of shows to be live music and family entertainment events but it has in-built flexibility to allow a range of sports as well."

Jean Dent, Leeds City Council's director of city development said: "The new arena will have a huge impact in raising the profile of Leeds and the surrounding city region both nationally and on the European stage. Studies show there is massive untapped demand for a facility of this kind and it will have a huge impact on the economy and physical regeneration of the city."

According to economic impact assessments, development of the arena will provide a boost of up to £25m a year for the economy and create up to 500 new jobs once it opens in addition to 500 construction jobs. The city centre arena is expected to generate more than 1 million visitors a year.

Future development opportunities on the site will be brought to the market at a future date with two potential plots of 1,010 sq m (0.25 acres) and a plot of 790 sq m (0.195 acres). The aspiration is to create an integrated, vibrant destination for public use all year round.

The arena will act as a catalyst for the regeneration of the city's Northern Quarter including the reinvigoration of the Merrion Centre's retail and leisure offer and the development of a four star hotel at Portland Crescent by Oxford Hotels.

Leeds property company Town Centre Securities, which owns the Merrion Centre, is redeveloping it as part of a multi-million pound refurbishment programme.

Landscape architects and urban design specialists Whitelaw Turkington have been commissioned to design the new public space around the arena by Jacobs.

Leeds civic architect John Thorp said: "The design team, the council as developer and the operator SMG Europe are committed to achieving a new benchmark in environmental design both in terms of public space around the arena and how it works as an entertainment venue.

"It is vital that the arena is integrated into the city centre both in terms of public space and as part of the city's leisure economy. Alongside other flagship developments such as the Trinity Leeds retail development by Land Securities, the arena will be a major attraction that will underscore the position of Leeds as one of the UK's leading cities."

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