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Work on a new 15,000 capacity arena in Cardiff could start within 18 months

Friday, Oct 06, 2017

Long-awaited plans for a new arena to be built in Cardiff have been announced.

Council bosses have announced they want to go ahead with a £110m venue which would have a capacity of 15,000.

There are six possible sites being assessed by Cardiff council:

  •     Red Dragon Centre
  •     Cardiff Prison
  •     Dumballs Road
  •     Cardiff Arms Park
  •     County Hall
  •     Callaghan Square

None of the sites have been selected as of yet but assessments of all are taking place. Bosses behind the scheme say it would attract international events to the city. Options touted were the ATP tennis, boxing or basketball games.

They said they are aiming for the highest possible specification of scheme to ensure the best acts would want to come to the venue. Council bosses expect it will result in the existing Motorpoint Arena closing.

Labour cabinet member Russell Goodway told a scrutiny committee meeting that he expects eight acres of land are expected to be required for the arena.

He said that buying that amount of land could cost around £10m. Another £90m would be needed for construction and £10m for the improvements around the site.

Coun Goodway told the meeting: "We are looking to the City Deal to contribute £40m to the project".

They would also approach the Welsh Government to ask for £20m. Coun Goodway said he had spoken to Ken Skates AM earlier this year who had said he was "keen" on having an arena.

"He said he was prepared to make a financial contribution," said Coun Goodway. The remaining £50m of the cost would come from operator rent.

Council officer Neil Hanratty said that he hoped work would start on the site in 18 months with an expected two year construction period.

Committee member Gavin Hill-John said that most of the sites were south of the railway and asked what considerations were being made about transport.

Mr Hanratty replied: "South of the railway has more of the sites of the sale that is required.

"In terms of transport infrastructure that will be a primary consideration in the site selection exercise.

"As we go through and score each of these, in addition to the costs of the site the next key consideration will be transport issues".

He said all the sites were within walking distance of the main railway station. The pair also said they hoped it could help the case for a tram to Cardiff Bay.

Mr Hanratty said: "If there's a site there that can help us build the business case for developing a tram to the Bay then that should be a consideration for the site"

Coun Goodway said that if thousands of people were using a site in Cardiff Bay, a Metro link would be needed to "facilitate the mass movement of people".

"At the moment when you consider the number of people travelling to the Bay, frankly you don't need much more than the facility at Disneyland. That's not a tram system".

In June, Ken Skates AM said that having a multi-purpose arena in Cardiff was "crucial". He said it could help attract events like Sports Personality of the Year to Wales.

London, Manchester, Birmingham, Glasgow, Belfast, Leeds, Liverpool and Sheffield all have arenas.

An arena is planned in Bristol and elsewhere in Wales a 5,000-capacity International Convention Centre Wales is due to open at Celtic Manor in Newport in 2019 while a 3,500-capacity arena on Oystermouth Road as part of a £500m city centre redevelopment has also been touted.

Councillors had their say on the issue. Labour's Iona Gordon asked what evidence there was for the demand for an arena.

"We all know we're living in a most fantastic city and we're proud of it but the size of Manchester and Glasgow, the other two examples given where there are arenas of the size and magnitude that you've ambitiously discussed here, I just wonder are we ready? I know we're the capital of Wales and we have a population of 360,000. But are we really in a position to be trying to erect for such an ambitious project?"

Coun Goodway replied saying that for Cardiff to be recognised as a European Capital City it needs such facilities.

"There were a lot of siren voices opposed to the Millennium Stadium development who tried to talk us out of having such a facility, one of the only ones in Europe with a roof, who said that Cardiff wasn't worthy. I think it's something that successive council leaders have had to battle with about a lack of confidence that exists within the local population.

"I don't think there's a person around who thinks it was the wrong decision to build the Millennium Stadium.

"A facility of that kind means we could attract international events and exposure that we couldn't previously".

They were asked what would happen if money did not come from the City Deal. "We'd go somewhere else," Coun Goodway replied.

Conservative Councillor Adrian Robson said that there had been years of talk about the arena which had stalled under the previous council administration and urged officers to "get on with it".

 

Source:walesonline.co.uk

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