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‘It’s rare a capital doesn’t have an arena’: NEC reveals Edinburgh venue plans

International Venue Alliance member NEC Group has announced its first venue in Scotland, and the first indoor arena in capital city Edinburgh

By Jon Chapple on 02 Dec 2019

A daytime rendering of the new Edinburgh arena

A daytime rendering of the new Edinburgh arena

NEC Group, the UK arena and conference venue operator which manages five properties in Birmingham, has announced plans for a new indoor arena in Edinburgh.

The 8,000-capacity venue, a joint venture with Edinburgh-based Lothian Leisure Development (LLD), will be the first indoor arena in Scotland’s capital city, which has a population of just over half a million. (Glasgow, which has around 100,000 more people, has three, including ASM Global’s 13,000-cap. SSE Hydro, while smaller city Aberdeen is home to ASM’s new P&J Live arena, formerly TECA.)

Along with the arena, the 30-acre site at Straiton, outside Edinburgh city centre, will include conference, leisure and retail space, including a cinema and two hotels.

NEC Group – which currently operates two arenas, the 15,800-capacity Arena Birmingham and 15,700-cap. Resorts World Arena – will take on full management of the Edinburgh arena, including event programming, hospitality, commercial rights, catering and ticketing once planning permission is secured.

New Edinburgh arena by night

Dave Fowler, business development director of LLD, says: “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 [in Birmingham] 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.”

NEC Group recently joined Oak View Group’s International Venue Alliance, which also includes Silverstone Circuit and D.Live in Germany.

Its arenas chairman, Phil Mead, comments: “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.

“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”

“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.”

DF Concerts promoter Dave McGeachan adds: “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.”

“A venue offering audience capacities between 5,000 to 8,000 will dovetail nicely with the existing facilities in Edinburgh and Glasgow,” says Mark Mackie from Edinburgh-based Regular Music. “We eagerly await the opening when we look forward to presenting a varied range of artists.”

LLD says it is currently in discussion with several parties to secure funding for the development phase of the project. The next milestone is expected to be a planning application by the end of 2020.


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