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NEC Group unveils plans for new Bradford Odeon

The reinvented Odeon will be a “regular on the touring circuit”, reckons Kaiser Chiefs' Ricky Wilson, filling the need for a new mid-sized venue in the north of England

By Jon Chapple on 07 Sep 2017

Bradford Odeon

An artist's impression of the new venue, seen from City Park

image © Tim Ronalds Architects

NEC Group International (NECGI) has announced plans to put Bradford “firmly back on the national live music touring circuit” with a new 4,000-capacity music venue, the Bradford Odeon.

NECGI, a division of Birmingham Arena/Genting Arena operator NEC Group, says it plans to use the refurbished Odeon – an art-deco former cinema, one of Britain’s largest, which originally opened in 1930 – to its “full potential”, putting on live music music, comedy and Bollywood events in the UK’s “biggest mid-size venue” outside London.

The Birmingham-based company has taken on a 30-year lease from Bradford Live, the charity behind the redevelopment, and will invest £2 million towards the cost of converting the building. The new venue is expected to open in 2020.

Welcoming the news, Kaiser Chiefs frontman Ricky Wilson comments: “We’ve played a lot of great old theatre venues. Beautiful old buildings are perfect for rock’n’roll shows – it can make a real difference performing in these characterful rooms compared to plain, black box-type venues.

“The Bradford Odeon would make a brilliant venue for the north, especially as there isn’t a room of that size in either Leeds or Bradford. It’d be a regular on the touring circuit.”

“Bradford will soon have one of the very best live music and event venues in the UK”

Francis Rossi of Status Quo agrees: “What the country needs is more places that can host concerts, so that people can get out and hear great live music. We’ve toured up and down the country more than most, and we know that places like this are essential. The Bradford Odeon has a great history and should be brought back into service.”

“Bradford Live is delighted to announce NEC Group International as our operator partner for the Odeon,” adds Bradford Live director Lee Craven. “They bring a wealth of experience and resource, and the work they did to win the bid was hugely impressive. They understand the building thoroughly and what its transformation will mean for the city.

“The 30-year commitment NEC has made allows Bradford Live to unlock a majority of the funding needed to restore the building, and we are now working closely with the council to ensure the full funding package is secured. Bradford Live looks forward to partnering with NEC Group and Bradford Council to ensure that Bradford will soon have one of the very best live music and event venues in the UK.”

NEC Group posted a 6% increase in revenue in 2016, turning over £133.8m in its first year as a private company.


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