Consortium appointed as successful bidder for Cardiff’s new indoor arena

The delivery of the new 15,000-capacity Indoor Arena at Atlantic Wharf has taken another step forward today, following the completion of the Full Business Case, and a report to Cardiff Council’s Cabinet to appoint the consortium of Live Nation, Oak View Group as operators and Robertson as developer – as the successful bidder.

The new indoor arena will create a premier, UK-visitor destination, which could attract one million visitors every year and bring more than £100m per annum into the local economy.

The report to cabinet seeks approval on the Full Business Case, the Development Agreement and associated legal documents to deliver the new indoor arena and to formally appoint the Consortium as the successful bidder.

Delivering a new indoor arena is widely regarded as the missing piece of city infrastructure needed to cement Cardiff’s international reputation as a major events city. It has been a long-standing ambition and aspiration shared by successive council administrations, which have retained a ring-fenced budget since 2006 to help make a private-sector led proposal, supported by the council, a reality.

The Full Business Case for the project is within an ‘affordability envelope’ for the project that was set out at the beginning of the procurement process.

Cabinet Member for Investment and Development, Cllr Russell Goodway, said: The city’s business community have backed the project for many years, particularly the hospitality sector. The new indoor arena will be a top tier UK visitor attraction and the financial benefits that it will bring to Butetown and the wider area will be significant – with up to 2,000 jobs created during the construction phase and a further 1,000 jobs in operation when the Atlantic Wharf masterplan becomes a reality.

“Through the Atlantic Wharf masterplan, significant improvements will be made to the public realm and to transport links, and there is no doubt that the regeneration of this site will kick-start the next phase of regeneration in Cardiff Bay.

“As we always do, we are working hand in hand with private sector to get this done. The Council’s aim has always been to deliver a tier one arena on a commercial basis.  The Council has agreed to raise the funding, which will be recouped through a long term lease with the operators, guaranteed by their parent companies.”

The pandemic has meant that completing the Full Business Case has taken a few more months longer than originally expected, we anticipate the indoor arena to be open for business by the end of 2024 rather than during the spring of 2024.

Cllr Goodway added: “We have been trying to move the project forward as quickly as we can, despite the pandemic, and a significant amount of additional work has had to be done to complete the Full Business Case to mitigate the issues arising from the pandemic.

“The developer has begun to consult with local businesses and residents as part of the work they need to do before submitting a planning application. The planning application for the arena will include the wider masterplan for the area, which will see a number of changes to the current road layouts. Local residents have raised early concerns regarding the closure of Schooner Way for example, which the Council has taken on board and will seek to mitigate.

Nick Harris, group executive property director, Robertson, said: “We welcome the report which confirms our status, alongside our partners, to deliver phase one of the Atlantic Wharf, Butetown Masterplan.  This is a significant step towards delivering the aspirations of the Council to create a vibrant visitor destination within Cardiff Bay.

“We were greatly encouraged by the positive feedback received during our public consultations recently, and look forward to working together, with our partners and the Council, to prepare the full planning application which will be submitted in October.”

Graham Walters, chief operating officer, Live Nation (UK Venues), said: “We are committed to delivering a world-class arena with Cardiff Council and our consortium partners OVG and Robertson, that will offer maximum benefit to the local community and the wider region to create one of Wales’ key cultural locations and destination venues. Live Nation brings significant first-hand local knowledge from our long-standing operation in Cardiff for more than two decades and we will cement the new arena’s position as a pivotal centre for live entertainment with internationally renowned events.”

Tim Leiweke, CEO and co-founder, said: “I’m very proud that OVG is developing a new class of venue in some of the greatest cities around the world, and I’m delighted that Cardiff is joining that list. “We’re excited to get to work with our partners Live Nation and Robertson to deliver a first-class arena capable of bringing the world’s best events to Cardiff.”

The Delivery Agreement will be signed with the Live Nation, Oak View Group and Robertson Consortium once they and the Council have met a number of conditions including securing planning permission. The revised timeline for delivery of the Arena is:

  • September 2021: Cabinet decision on the Full Business Case and Delivery Agreement;
  • October 2021: Contract award notice issued and developer to submit planning application;
  • February 2022: Planning decision and initial site works to begin;
  • March 2022: Contract signed;
  • April 2022: Construction begin;
  • Arena opens end of 2024.
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