UP-AND-COMING BANDS took centre stage as the new Leeds concert arena held a musical test run ahead of its grand launch next month.
Local groups The Puppeteers and The Scandal got the chance to perform at the £60m First Direct Arena at an open day event on Saturday.
They both played impressive sets in front of a crowd of around 3,000 people as the arena’s bosses made sure their venue was ready for business.
It will play host to its first concert proper on July 24, when rock legend Bruce Springsteen comes to town.
Other acts due to appear at the 13,500-capacity arena before the end of the year include Kaiser Chiefs, Rod Stewart and Depeche Mode. And a member of one of the bands that played on Saturday said it was “a privilege” for them to tread the same stage as those world-famous names.
Puppeteers bassist Eleanor Clowes told the Yorkshire Evening Post: “It was an absolutely fantastic experience, just amazing – one of the best things I have ever done in my life. We were all on an absolute high for the rest of the day.” Now-defunct regional development agency Yorkshire Forward contributed £10m to the cost of the arena, with the rest of the funds coming from Leeds City Council.
Experts estimate the venue will generate £25m a year for the city’s economy.
It is also hoped the opening of the arena will breathe new life into the area around its Clay Pit Lane site.
Schemes previously announced include a 14-storey hotel at Portland Crescent and a new apartment block on Merrion Way.
As reported last week by the YEP, virtually all of the arena’s corporate boxes have already been sold.
l The arena is playing host to an open afternoon for local schools and colleges tomorrow.