IT was cruelly dubbed ‘The People’s Patio’ when it first opened back in 2000.
With a pricetag of £12m, it’s perhaps inevitable that there would be a few sceptics.
But 15 years on and Millennium Square has become something of a linchpin on Leeds’ events scene.
Not only has it played host to showpieces like Leeds Pride, an ice rink, the Christmas market and a beach-themed summer event, the big screen also means it’s the place to be for Wimbledon or the inevitable England World Cup disappointment.
Despite all this, City Buzz has always been of the view that the square’s potential as an outdoor live music venue has remained criminally untapped in recent years.
Thankfully it seems that as of this summer, that will no longer be the case, with a string of gigs lined up and more seemingly being announced by the day.
Popstar Paolo Nutini announced a performance at the site earlier this week – and now City Buzz can exclusively reveal that Union J will be stepping on stage there as well.
The boyband will be supported by fellow TV talent show stars including Leeds-born Luke Friend, Only the Young, Bars and Melody and Sophie May Williams at the one-off gig on Sunday, July 26.
We can also reveal that punk legends Buzzcocks will be headlining the Leeds Mod, Ska and Punk Festival at the square on July 25.
Add these to the list of July events that already include concerts by 10cc, UB40, Alfie Boe and the Breeze Arts Festival and you’re practically set for the summer.
It’s all part of a new ‘summer series’ of concerts and events taking place at the square this year, which have been organised by Leeds City Council and Heart radio.
But bands aren’t the only ones seeing potential in the square.
Bar chain Be At One is investing in a spot nearby.
Taking over the former Teppan 260 site (previously Casa Mia), the bar will open its doors at the end of May.
Not to be confused with its soon-to-be neighbour All Bar One, this will be the company’s first venture in the north.
Sarah Swaysland, marketing manager at Be At One, said: “We’re incredibly excited about moving into Leeds as we are aiming to create a cluster of bars in neighbouring cities.”
She added: “It made sense to begin with Leeds as it’s already got a fantastic cocktail culture that we feel we can really contribute to and it’s a really vibrant city.”
Using the venue as a cocktail bar may well be the best way forward. If a stalwart like Casa Mia closed and its successor Teppan 260 with its new-fangled technology and i-pad ordering systems didn’t do the trick, it seems that a different tactic may be what’s needed.
With Bar 314 in Progress opposite and Epernay just behind, maybe this area could carve out a niche for itself as a drinking destination – possibly for a pre-concert tipple when Millennium Square comes to life in the summer.
When there’s not an ice rink or Christmas market at the square, it’s often forgotten about. So it’s great to hear that so many exciting things are in the pipeline for Millennium Square this year.
Hopefully it will finally set the Patio Pessimists straight and prove that once and for all, the money it cost to build the square was money well spent.