Has Leeds’ arena been a catalyst for change?

A CGI image of how Marco's new restaurant could look.
A CGI image of how Marco's new restaurant could look.
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Since the First Direct Arena opened in 2013, it has sparked a wave of investment in the surrounding area.

As part of a £50m refurbishment, the Merrion Centre revamped its car park and the Arena Quarter-facing side on Merrion Way.

Recent additions to the shopping centre include Select, Crawshaws butchers and Taiwanese-style tearoom Bubble Bubble. They follow in the footsteps of LAB bar, the Proper Sandwich Company, Costa, MFA bowl, Pure Gym and Korean restaurant Bulgogi Grill.

My Thai also invested £50,000 in a new spot at the centre last year, reaching its six month sales target in just four weeks.

More than 11.2m people visited the centre last year – the highest on record since it opened 50 years ago. Speaking about the recent developments, councillor Richard Lewis, Leeds City Council’s executive member for regeneration, transport and planning, said: “What’s really great is that new businesses want to be involved and share the transformation of the area, bringing yet more opportunities for residents who want to eat, drink and work.”

New bars have also poured into nearby Merrion Street, the latest of which will be a pool bar called Slate, at the former Lounge site.

Other local projects include a 10-storey serviced apartment block on Merrion Way.

The arena is the fifth busiest in the UK, attracting 470,000 visitors last year.

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