North East & Yorkshire

£60m Leeds project prepares to take centre stage

The exciting new Leeds Arena will provide state-of-the-art entertainment for up to 13,500 spectators when it hosts its first event early in 2013.

Main contractors for the project are BAM Construction and strategic design partner Jacobs is leading a multi-disciplinary design team to conclude the design of the Leeds Arena to the RIBA stage D, having appointed Populous to offer them specialist arena architectural expertise.

Expected to boost the city region economy by £25.5m, the project will create approximately 450 jobs and help to attract further investment in the area.

The ‘super-theatre’ style arena will have a total capacity of around 13,500 people in a combined standing/seating mode and circa 12,500 in full seating mode. Spectators will be much close to the stage than other traditional bowl venues as all seats will face the performance area, each of them with perfect sight-lines.

The external design of the building is a stunning honeycomb design, with lights that can change colour to reflect the mood of the arena event at the time.

The project reached an important milestone in November 2011, when the proscenium beam was installed. The 180 tonne proscenium beam is 45 metres long and is the heaviest piece of steel in the entire arena building, requiring two cranes – each weighing 500 tonnes – to lift it into place. Once it was lifted, twelve people worked for around 36 consecutive hours to hoist it into place. The beam now provides stability to a complex steel structure that has involved 3,500 tonnes of steel and would stretch for 24 miles from Leeds to York if laid flat.

Gordon Alexander, BAM’s Construction Manager for the Leeds Arena, said:

“The proscenium steel beam is a crucial part of the whole structure of the Leeds Arena and an important milestone in the scheme as this is when the building really starts to take shape. Once in place, it will create the archway for the stage and support the entire roof structure.

“Getting the beam in place at this stage is also an indication that construction is progressing as planned and to programme, which is great news.”

Councillor Richard Lewis, Leeds City Council executive member for city development, said:

“This is a very exciting milestone for the Leeds Arena development and it is great news that progress is steaming ahead as planned.

“The arena is a hugely important construction project for Leeds – it is estimated to bring an additional one million visitors to the city and add around £25.5m per year to the city’s economy.

“It is already playing a catalytic part in the wider regeneration of the city centre as further investments and developments are brought forward linked to the arena. All of this helps to take Leeds up a league and plays an important contribution to ensuring the city is in a strong economic position to recover from the current economic climate.

John Sutherland, Managing Director/ Senior Vice President for the Leeds Arena operators SMG Europe, said:

“Now that we have reached this significant milestone we look forward to the construction schedule really starting to accelerate ahead of the handover in 2013. It’s still a little too early to announce any events, but we have been extremely encouraged by the excitement this project is generating within the live entertainment industry.”

The arena is being funded by Leeds City Council with grant support from Yorkshire Forward. Leeds City Council will use the rent and other commercial revenues generated by the associated commercial development to finance the balance of the proposal. Just over two thirds of funding is from third parties or commercial revenue generated by the scheme.

BAM Construction

BAM Construction UK Ltd is part of the European construction enterprise, Royal BAM Group. Their origins in the UK stretch back as far as 1874.

BAM Construction has a strong national and international profile. Their projects include the O2 Berlin Arena, Soccer City (the venue for the 2010 world cup final) and the Leeds Rose Bowl.

The company has a large network of offices covering England, Scotland and Wales and projects in the education, retail, mixed use development, health, office, leisure and law order sectors.

About the author

Roma Publications

Leave a Comment