New Bristol City stadium could lead to new arena
Bristol could get its long-awaited arena if Bristol City's new football stadium at Ashton Vale gets the go-ahead.
The club hopes to win planning consent from city councillors in November for its new £65 million home.
Now it has emerged that, if the new stadium goes ahead, then some neighbouring land could be used to build an arena that could rival similar venues in Manchester, Newcastle and Birmingham.
An international company that specialises in promoting large-scale events and building arenas has told the (Bristol) Evening Post it would be "very keen" to build one in Bristol if a site became available.
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The company, the Creative Entertainment Group, which brought Elton John to City's existing ground at Ashton Gate, said if it built an arena in Bristol, it would be "world class".
Chief executive Peter Brightman said: "Bristol is one of the cities in the country which desperately needs an arena. We operate in 35 countries worldwide and of all the places that needs an arena, more than anywhere else, I would say it's Bristol."
Mr Brightman said an arena in Bristol would ideally have15,000 seats but the number was not the most important issue. The key to success would be flexibility so the venue could adapt to different types of events very quickly.
Mr Brightman said: "You could not expect to have world class artists 52 weeks a year – it's not going to happen. So flexibility is the key.
"A multi-purpose arena opened in Dubai four or five months ago where three-and-a-half thousand seats move out of the way in three minutes at the push of a button.
"I'm not saying it would be the same arrangement in Bristol, but certainly you would need to be able to move the seating very quickly so that you could have a quick turnaround time for staging different types of events."
One of the group's subsidiaries, Creative Venues, is now looking at building arenas in 23 countries.
Mr Brightman said Britain was on their list – and Bristol was "far and away" their favourite city for a purpose-built arena.
He stressed: "This is very early days at the moment and there is a long, long way to go.
"We haven't even started talks with anyone about it yet and we would have to go through the planning process. But it's something we would be very keen to do."
Mr Brightman said that of all the football grounds the company had used in Britain to stage rock concerts, those at Ashton Gate had been the most successful.
His company has for the past two decades promoted some of the world's most popular acts and singing stars, ranging from Michael Jackson and UB40 to Ella Fitzgerald and the Bolshoi Ballet.
City council deputy leader Simon Cook said: "An arena is very much on our wish list of things we want to see happen in the city.
"We recognise that it is something the city badly needs and we will be doing everything we can to make it happen."
● There have been previous plans to build an arena in Bristol but they have always fallen by the wayside.
The last plan, driven by the South West Regional Development Agency, was based on a 14-acre site next to Temple Meads railway station for £10.8million in 2003 – but the plan failed through lack of funding.
Before that there were moves to use the former Royal Mail sorting office site in Cattle Market Road, but it was snapped up by a private developer and now creates a blot on the skyline in St Philip's.