By Paul Robinson
MUSIC industry giant SMG has won the right to run the new entertainment arena planned for Leeds.
The city council’s executive board yesterday chose the multinational company as its “preferred operator” for the 50m concert venue.
It saw off competition for the job from Live Nation, another of the music industry’s biggest hitters.
Today council leader Andrew Carter hailed SMG as the ideal candidate to help bring top acts like Oasis, Westlife and Kylie Minogue to the city on a regular basis.
Coun Carter said: “Choosing an operator has been a difficult task, because of the high quality and standard of all the bids.
“SMG has a great track record and expertise in running arenas and it’s fantastic to have the company on board.
“The fact we’ve had interest from across the world in what we’re doing in Leeds also says a lot. This is a city which leading companies want to invest in.”
SMG is the largest operator of sport and entertainment venues in the UK and Europe. Its empire includes Manchester’s MEN Arena, Newcastle’s Metro Radio Arena and Belfast’s Odyssey Arena.
John Sutherland, managing director of SMG Europe, said he was “very excited” to be moving into Leeds.
He added: “The arena is long overdue and will be an important centrepiece for the city and region on many levels.
“We are committed to its success.”
SMG and the council will now spend the next six months selecting a developer and site for the money-spinning 12,500-seater venue.
Potential locations are thought to include Holbeck’s Sweet Street and land next to Leeds United’s Elland Road ground.
It is hoped private investors will plough about 30m into the scheme, with another 20m being supplied by the public sector.
A significant chunk of that public funding is likely to come from the 51m windfall the council received from last year’s sale of Leeds Bradford Airport.