Consultancy Lothian Leisure Development is teaming up with Birmingham-based NEC Group to build the privately funded arena on a site at Straiton just outside Edinburgh city centre.
The team plans to transform the 30-acre site into a mixed-use venue for leisure and entertainment. In addition to the 8,000-capacity arena, the proposals for the wider development include conference, retail and leisure space as well as a cinema and two hotels.
NEC Group, which already operates two indoor arenas in Birmingham, is supporting LLD to progress the scheme proposals to the full feasibility stage. It plans to take on full management of the arena once planning permissions are in place.
Dave Fowler, business development director at LLD, said: “These exciting proposals showcase the modern, indoor arena that Edinburgh deserves, and with operating partner NEC on board the capital is assured a pipeline of the world’s greatest entertainment talent. We also look forward to applying many of the other aspects of the hugely successful NEC Campus to Edinburgh in due course. We see this as a revolution in entertainment provision for one of the world’s most cultural capitals - and one which will benefit all sections of the community.”
Phil Mead, arenas and ticket factory chairman at NEC Group, said: “We host over 700 events per year in the Birmingham area and have always planned to take our successful events model to new cities with the backing of our majority shareholder, Blackstone. We are already looking forward to opening the redeveloped Bradford Live venue in 2021 and are delighted to now confirm our partnership with LLD which will hopefully see us manage our first venue in Scotland. Edinburgh is well known for its wonderful cultural offering but remains one of the only European capital cities without an indoor arena and so we’re excited by the thought of being able to bring some big names in entertainment to the region.”
The proposals has have been well received by event and concert promoters. Dave McGeachan from Scottish concert promoter DF Concerts added: “These days it is rare that a capital city doesn’t have an arena, so this is a long awaited and positive addition to the Scottish entertainment market.”
Mark Mackie from Edinburgh-based Regular Music also said that he supported the proposals. “A venue offering audience capacities between 5,000 to 8,000 will dovetail nicely with the existing facilities in Edinburgh and Glasgow,” he said. We eagerly await the opening when we look forward to presenting a varied range of artists.”
LLD is currently in discussion with several parties to secure funding for the development phase of the project. Over the coming months LLD and the NEC Group will be working to progress the proposals to full scheme design stage and to carry out a series of public consultations.
The next key milestone for the project is expected to be a planning application by the end of 2020.