New Leeds arena set to rival best in Europe

COUNCIL bosses today revealed tantalising new details about their vision for a Leeds concert arena to rival the very best in Europe.

Leeds City Council announced last month that it would be building the 12,000-seater complex on land at Clay Pit Lane, near the Merrion shopping centre.

Now the local authority has given music fans their first indication of the state-of-the-art facilities they will be able to enjoy when the arena opens in 2012.

Key elements of the blueprint include:

l Two separate seating 'bowls' – an upper tier for 7,000 people and a lower for 5,000;

l Clear views of the centre of the stage from EVERY seat;

l Sufficient flexibility to allow the arena to host family entertainment and sporting events as well as concerts;

l A restaurant for 100 diners and a 150-capacity hospitality lounge;

l More than 100 concession, merchandise and retail stands or outlets;

l Soundproofing to reduce disturbance for local residents and businesses;

l An anticipated minimum of 110 event days per year.

Coun Andrew Carter, the council's leader, said: "The planned specification for the new arena is first class.

"It truly is going to be Britain's – if not Europe's – best entertainment venue.

"2012 might be a few years off, but I promise it will be well worth the wait."

Leeds is the only major northern city without a top-flight concert arena.

Experts say filling that gap will create more than 300 jobs and generate 28m a year for the local economy.

Demolition work on a former university building at the five-acre Clay Pit Lane site is due to start in spring next year. Part of the funding for the arena is expected to come from the 51m windfall the council received from last year's sale of Leeds Bradford Airport.

Regional development agency Yorkshire Forward is due to decide early next year what, if any financial support, to offer the scheme.

Raymond Manners.

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