Handover of Leeds Arena site complete

25 April 2013 16:02 - BAM Construct UK Ltd

Leeds, 19 April 2013 - The Leeds Arena site has been handed over from Leeds City Council to the operators, SMG, to start the interior fit-out process. The handover marks the end of the construction phase of the flagship Leeds Arena project. Led by the developer Leeds City Council, organisations including BAM, Arup, Populous, IPW and Davis Langdon – have helped to successfully complete the scheme on time and on budget.

Positioned in the heart of the city, the new £60 million Leeds Arena will be a world-class music venue with a capacity of 13,500 people. Designed to maximise the quality of live music performances, its unique fan-shaped interior will optimise sight lines to focus every seat at centre stage and bring the public closer to the show. The multi-purpose facility has been designed so that the space can be easily modified to meet the changing requirements of a diverse event schedule, which could also include theatre and sports.

Now that the main construction works have finished and handover has taken place, SMG will manage the task of equipping Leeds Arena with bars, restaurants, staff and ticketing offices and star facilities - preparing the arena to welcome visitors in July 2013.

Leeds City Council leader Councillor Keith Wakefield said: ‘We want Leeds to be the best city in the UK and delivering this hugely-imaginative and highly-ambitious project on time and on budget in an incredibly-challenging economy demonstrates without doubt that we mean business. Our arena project is a superb example of the pivotal role a local authority can play in enabling a city’s transformation.  It is bringing jobs, investment and visitors to our city and I cannot speak highly enough of the dedication, flair and sheer hard work that have been the hallmark of the Leeds Arena scheme, from inception right through to completion. Thanks to this commitment and professionalism from the council, its officers, construction contractor BAM, SMG Europe and our partners across the city and beyond Leeds will have the world-class venue it deserves.  I would like to wish SMG the very best of luck as they set to work in getting it on the map.’

John Sutherland, Managing Director at SMG Europe said: ‘It’s been a great pleasure to work so closely with Leeds City Council on a development of such scope and importance to the city, the region and, to an extent, the UK. Our team, who have already been heavily involved in the project’s cultivation to date, are incredibly committed to responsibly leading Leeds Arena into its launch, its opening season and beyond, whilst continuing to deliver the high quality entertainment experience that its audience deserves.’

The project started over a decade ago, in 2002, when Leeds City Council commissioned a feasibility study for building an arena in the Leeds area.

SMG were selected by the council to be the operator in early 2008 and Leeds City Council decided to take on the project to develop it itself in 2008 after private sector proposals were found to be not good value for money. With handover now completed, the council will be the landlord to SMG, and SMG will be responsible for the management and operation of the building.

In 2009, Arup was initially appointed as planning agent and technical advisor and then supported BAM Construction during the delivery phase of the arena from 2010 until present.

John Phillips, construction director for BAM, said: ‘A project as distinctive as this one needs the hallmark of quality running through it. That’s what BAM brings to its work here and elsewhere, both through human expertise and in technological innovation. We’ve taken the chance to do many things to help out the local community during the build with work and life opportunities. I’m proud of the hard-working teams who have contributed to this special building for Leeds and it’s a pleasure for us to hand it over on programme for the future enjoyment of many thousands who will come here.’

Jim Bell, project director at Arup, commented: ‘This project presented many technical challenges due to restrictions caused by the tight site, which is also located in a residential area. But, we’ve managed to deliver a world-class venue that will offer a superior music experience for visitors, whilst satisfying strict requirements on limiting noise breakout. The arena is a fantastic addition to the city that will allow Leeds to compete on a national and international stage, and is forecast to become one of the top five venues in the world.’

John Rhodes, the project architect and Principal at Populous, said: ‘The Populous team has incorporated the latest thinking to create a ‘supertheatre’ for Leeds City Centre, which, when it opens, will be one of the most sustainable multi-event venues in the UK. Big names are already signing up to play and the arena’s flexible design means the City can compete internationally as a cultural capital able to attract and host a diverse range of entertainment events. Most importantly, the Leeds Arena will provide an outstanding experience for spectators and artists alike.’
Leeds Arena will welcome its first visitors on 24 July 2013, when Bruce Springsteen will headline an exclusive event. The venue will officially open in September 2013 and it already has a number of world-class artists and events already scheduled to perform including Elton John, Cirque Du Soleil and Andrea Botticelli.

Developer - Leeds City Council
Construction contractor - BAM
Technical advisors - Holmes Miller
Project managers / quantity surveyor - David Langdon
CDMC  - Turner and Townsend
Procurement / technical advisor - PMP/ IPW/ Arup
Concept stage Architect (to stage D)  - Jacobs (Populous interior)
Concept stage Engineering (to stage D) - Jacobs
Engineering (from stage D)  - Arup
Delivery architect   - Populous
Landscape architect  - Grontmij
MEP sub-contractor - Rotary Yorkshire