Funding boost for Leeds Arena bid

Leeds Arena is a step closer to reality after Yorkshire Forward agreed to part-fund the multi-million pound project.

Leeds City Council had been confident the regional development agency would provide the extra cash needed for the scheme but some MPs in Sheffield have argued it should not pump public funds into a project they fear could damage trade at their city's existing arena.

Now after a consultancy firm assessed proposals for the 12,500-seater facility in Leeds city centre, Yorkshire Forward has pledged to help create the venue at Clay Pit Lane – as long as the Government gives the cash injection the green light.

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The arena, run by major international operator SMG, is expected to create 300 jobs and generate nearly 30m a year for the local economy.

Yorkshire Forward (YF) Chief Executive Tom Riordan said: "Following extensive, independent evaluation I'm pleased to confirm that Yorkshire Forward's Board has confirmed its decision to invest in the development of a Leeds Arena.

"The proposal will now be submitted to Central Government for funding approval."

He said the Board had taken account of Sheffield's concerns and would include those representations in the case put to Government to approve the investment.

Leeds councillor Andrew Carter said he was "delighted" by the news.

He added: "It's what we hoped for. We are moving ahead with the project as rapidly as we can."

Demolition of the former Leeds Metropolitan University tower block which occupied part of the arena's five-acre Clay Pit Lane site started at the beginning of April.

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