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Cardiff arena design overhauled due to costs

The design of Cardiff’s new arena has been overhauled after material costs spiralled by more than 50%.

The venue, which is being developed by Robertson Group and will be operated by Live Nation and Oak View Group, was due to cost £180 million (€203m) but “inflationary pressures” saw it rise to almost £280m (€316m).

Now, architect Populous has made a number of major changes to the design, which have been approved by Cardiff Council planning committee.

The firm, which designed Tottenham Hotspur stadium and Cardiff’s Principality Stadium, has replaced its 2022 ‘lump of coal’ arena with a smaller, more rectangular, and lighter-coloured design inspired by the Welsh mountains.

The arena’s height, width, and length have shrunk by 6.5 metres, 9.53m, and 14m respectively, reducing the venue’s capacity from 17,000 to 15,348, according to Architects’ Journal.

Cardiff’s planning committee was told the venue has “lost capacity but gained versatility in what can be offered,” with a new flexible seating or standing arena at its centre.

Cardiff’s planning committee was told the venue has ‘lost capacity but gained versatility in what can be offered’

Other changes include a bronze-coloured aluminium façade, a ‘swoop’ on the arena’s southern exterior, and increased glazing on its east and west-facing elevations to create two arches on each, which will be illuminated for events.

The new arena will sit 4m south of the originally proposed position, on part of Cardiff’s existing County Hall car park in Atlantic Wharf within the Cardiff Bay area, which has been undergoing ongoing regeneration for more than 30 years.

In a design and access statement submitted for the new design in July this year, Populous wrote: ‘The proposed changes to the arena have arisen as a result of the global economic environment and associated increased material costs since the scheme was consented.’

The firm said a ‘full review’ of the proposals with the client led to the overhaul of the project to achieve ‘greater cost certainty’.

The arena was originally scheduled to open in 2025, but is not now set to be completed until the following year, according to Wales Online.

Live Nation already runs the existing 7,500-cap Motorpoint Arena Cardiff, as well as converted warehouse venue Titan Warehouse. OVG, meanwhile, is currently constructing the UK’s first all-electric arena, Co-op Live, in Manchester.

 


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Wales concert hall closed due to concrete issues

A Welsh concert hall has closed with immediate effect to allow additional checks on the building’s concrete panels.

The decision to temporarily close the 2,000-cap St David’s Hall in Cardiff was taken in light of the recent change to advice on Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (RAAC) in public buildings issued by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), and follows further discussions with the Cardiff Council’s appointed independent structural engineers, and insurers.

All shows are currently postponed for the next month, including concerts by Lindisfarne, Dexys and Graham Nash. St David’s Hall is set to welcome acts such as Alfie Boe, Europe, Daniel O’Donnell, Beverley Knight, Howard Jones and Level 42 in October.

Academy Music Group is due to take over the running of the venue in the near future and “has already undertaken its own inspections and has plans in place to undertake remedial work required in the medium to long-term”.

“We believe it is prudent and responsible to carry out intrusive surveys to further reassure ourselves and the public on the safety of the hall”

The Welsh government has been asking local authorities for updates on the state of RAAC in its facilities since Westminster closed more than 100 education buildings in England last week.

The council says it has been aware of RAAC at St David’s Hall and the need to manage it from a health and safety viewpoint since 2021, and has always followed government guidelines and advice to ensure it was safe. A building management and health and safety strategy has been implemented at the venue for the past 18 months, including regular inspections by independent structural engineers with specific RAAC expertise.

“Throughout this time no issues were raised about the condition of RAAC in the building and there was no evidence of deterioration – and this remains the case,” says a council statement. “However, the council has continued to engage with its insurers and expert structural engineers and, based on advice received today from those experts, we believe it is prudent and responsible to carry out intrusive surveys to further reassure ourselves and the public on the safety of the hall. This will require drilling into panels to confirm their interior construction and to determine if any further work is required to ensure continuing safety.

“Consequently, we will be bringing structural engineers – who are RAAC experts – back on site to do fresh tests on RAAC panels in the building. We expect this procedure could take at least four weeks, and we will look to re-open the Hall as soon as possible, dependent on any action which may or may not be required.”

 


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Green light for new Cardiff arena plans

Construction of Live Nation and Oak View Group’s (OVG) new arena in Cardiff, UK is expected to start later this year after the development was granted planning permission.

The 17,000-cap venue, which is set to open in 2025, will form part of a wider multi-million-pound regeneration of Butetown, Cardiff in Wales.

The venue is being developed by Robertson Group with a view to bringing “some of the biggest names in the entertainment industry” to the city and cementing Cardiff Bay’s position as a “top-tier” visitor attraction.

“We are delighted with this decision, one of the most significant and landmark developments in the region for some years, and we look forward to delivering our vision for a new arena with our partners and Cardiff Council,” says Graham Walters, Live Nation UK Venues COO. “A world-class arena, with a global reputation for culture, will transform Atlantic Wharf for local, national, and international visitors to Cardiff, as well as facilitate job creation and economic growth in the region.”

“We are now looking forward to working together with our partners and the local community to give Cardiff and Wales the top tier arena they deserve”

Live Nation already runs the existing 7,500-cap Motorpoint Arena Cardiff, as well as converted warehouse venue Titan Warehouse. OVG, meanwhile, is currently constructing the UK’s first all-electric arena, Co-op Live, in Manchester.

“It is exciting that the plans for a new arena at Atlantic Wharf have been approved by the council,” adds OVG COO Mark Donnelly. “We are now looking forward to working together with our partners and the local community to give Cardiff and Wales the top tier arena they deserve.”

Phase One of the development formed part of a hybrid planning application that was submitted in November 2021 and has now been approved by Cardiff’s Planning Committee.

Both the arena and the wider masterplan are in line with Cardiff Council’s 2030 climate neutral aspirations, with energy strategies incorporated into the design and operational elements of the redevelopment set to achieve operational climate neutral positions by 2030.

 


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Plans submitted for new Cardiff arena

A hybrid planning application has been submitted for the proposed new 17,000-capacity arena in Cardiff.

Operated by Live Nation and Oak View Group (OVG), the venue will form part of a wider multi-million-pound regeneration of Butetown, Cardiff. Determination of the planning decision is expected in spring 2022, with the arena set to open in 2025.

Set to create 1,000 jobs, the venue is being developed by Robertson Group with a view to cementing Cardiff Bay’s position as a “top-tier” visitor attraction and bring “the world’s best events” to the city. If planning is granted, it is anticipated that work will start in autumn 2022.

“As a leader in live entertainment, our aim is to deliver a new kind of arena in partnership with Cardiff City Council that will place the local community and the city at the heart of our ambition” says Live Nation UK venues chief operating officer Graham Walters.

“With a globally recognised arena as a focal point for entertainment and culture, we aspire to strengthen Cardiff’s position as a major touring destination, that is capable of hosting outstanding local, national and international events and continue Cardiff’s growth as a leading music city.”

We see a huge opportunity to bring a genuinely world-class arena to Cardiff

Live Nation already runs the existing 7,500-cap Motorpoint Arena Cardiff, as well as converted warehouse venue Titan Warehouse. OVG, meanwhile, is currently constructing the UK’s first all-electric arena, Co-op Live, in Manchester.

Jessica Koravos, chair, OVG International, adds: “We see a huge opportunity to bring a genuinely world-class arena to Cardiff – a venue that will host the best in live entertainment, creating thousands of jobs and attracting millions of visitors to the city.

“We look forward to working with the council and the community to deliver this exciting and ambitious scheme.”

The development of the arena and the wider masterplan takes into consideration the 2030 climate neutral aspirations of Cardiff Council, with the energy strategy designed to achieve an operational climate neutral position by 2030.

 

 


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Welsh promoter Climax Live rebrands

The promoter behind some of the biggest music festivals in Wales, including Cardiff’s Inside Out (15,000-cap.) and Colour Clash (10,000-cap.) in Newport, is to rebrand as Escape Records, reflecting an increased focus on its recorded music business.

From today (17 May), all festivals and club nights will come under the banner of Escape Records, a new record label home to three genre-specific sub-brands: Escape Tales (Urban), Escape Jack (House) and Escape Anthems. Escape Records’ signings include DJs and producers such as Glen Horsborough, Peter Chard and Local.

“We are now ready to take things to the next level”

The Cardiff-based company is also behind Escape festival in Swansea, which returns on Saturday 25 September, with another “game-changing festival” set to be announced in the coming weeks, according to a launch announcement.

“Our mantra is trust and love the process,” comments Escape Records director Mark Hopkins. “This means we’ve had an incredible ride, with many knocks along the way, but we have learnt from them all and improved each time and are now ready to take things to the next level.”

 


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Live Nation selected for new Cardiff arena

Live Nation has been identified as the preferred bidder to manage a new 15,000-capacity indoor arena in Cardiff.

The new venue, which will become Live Nation’s second arena in the Welsh capital, will cost around £150 million to build and, it is hoped, attract more than 1m visitors and an estimated £100m into the local economy annually.

A Live Nation-led consortium – which also includes venue company Oak View Group (OVG) and property firm Robertson – was behind one of two offers to Cardiff Council, which was seeking a private-sector partner to “deliver a top-tier UK venue that that will enable events of all sizes to be hosted in the city.”

Live Nation also operates the 5,000-capacity Cardiff International Arena (formerly Motorpoint Arena Cardiff), as well as converted warehouse venue Titan Warehouse. OVG, meanwhile, is currently constructing a new arena, Co-op Live, in Manchester, England.

Russell Goodway, Cardiff Council’s cabinet member for investment and development, says: “The city’s strategy is to establish the Cardiff Arena as a top-tier UK arena and to make it the premier arena in the south-west region of England and Wales.”

“Our combined experience in the delivery and operation of facilities of this nature will result in a world-class facility”

A rival arena in Bristol, in south-west England, YTL Arena, is now expected to open in 2023, after years of delays. It was originally due to open in 2018, with SMG Europe (now ASM Global) managing, but is now under construction at a new site.

According to Cardiff Council leader Huw Thomas, the council will commit less than 15% of the arena’s cost, with the remaining 85%+ of capital investment coming from the council’s private-sector partners.

In a joint statement, Live Nation, Oak View Group and Robertson say: “We are delighted to have been announced preferred bidder today to deliver the new Cardiff arena. We look forward to working in partnership with Cardiff Council to bring this ambitious vision to life over the next few years.

“Our combined experience in the delivery and operation of facilities of this nature will result in a world-class facility that will bring economic benefits to the entire region, both during its construction and for many years to come once it’s open. In 2021 we will embark on the next phase of the planning process, which will provide the wider community the opportunity to see our exciting proposals for the site.”

 


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MJR Group expands touring portfolio

UK promoter and venue manager MJR Group has acquired theatre production company Imagine This and secured a partnership to promote Marvel’s Avenger Station, an interactive superhero exhibition.

The promoter completed the acquisition of Imagine This in June, having bought a stake in the company earlier this year.

Imagine This produces touring show Rip It Up, which consists of three decade-based versions. MJR promoted the 60s edition for a four-month run at London West End’s Garrick Theatre this year, selling over 150,000 tickets.

The show starred McFly’s Harry Judd, JLS’ Aston Merrygold and the Wanted’s Jay McGuinness, as well as Olympic gymnast Louis Smith. The 70s version is set to tour the UK from September 2019.

The MJR Group is also entering into a partnership with production company Victory Hill, to produce and promote Marvel’s Avengers Station.

“Bringing Imagine This into the MJR Group and promoting Avengers Station further strengthens our position as a multi-faceted live entertainment provider”

Following a six-month residency at London convention centre Excel, the immersive exhibition is now on display at the St David’s centre in Cardiff, which opened on 22 June.

In addition, MJR has announced it is introducing two new live music venues to the UK market later this year.

“Bringing Imagine This into The MJR Group and promoting Marvel’s Avengers Station further strengthens our position as a multi-faceted live entertainment provider,” says MJR Group founder and owner Richard Buck.

“Imagine This opens up the West End and theatre production market for the Group. The “Rip It Up” brand has been incredibly successful and with further products in the pipeline, both domestically and internationally, we expect a very exciting period of growth for MJR.”

The MJR Group promotes thousands of concerts in the UK annually, and many more overseas, chiefly in Australia and New Zealand.

 


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LN’s new Titan Warehouse to open next March

Live Nation’s second venue in Wales will officially launch on Friday 8 March with a show featuring some of the world’s leading bass music artists.

UK bass stars including Sub Focus and Dimension, Jauz and Holy Goof, Sasasas and headliner Andy C will be the first to perform at the new Titan Warehouse in Cardiff, in a night programmed by drum’n’bass promoter Bedlam.

Marc Kinchen’s Area 10 will headline Titan Warehouse following night, joined by a host of house music DJs including Jax Jones, Weiss, Eli Brown and Icarus.

Live Nation was last month granted permission to redevelop the warehouse (formerly Splott Warehouse) into a 10,000-capacity venue, with promoter Sam Bush telling councillors a new music venue would address the “huge demand for music” in the Welsh capital.

The company also operates a second venue, the 5,000-capacity Motorpoint Arena, in Cardiff.

 


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Motorpoint Arena Cardiff celebrates 25th anniversary

This September marks the 25th anniversary of Wales’ Motorpoint Arena Cardiff. The venue, which has entertained over 10 million fans throughout its history, is celebrating the milestone birthday with a series of redevelopment projects and upgrades to the space.

The arena, owned and operated by Live Nation UK, has taken many forms over its 25-year history. Its 7,500-capacity (standing) space has at points been transformed into an ice rink, a boxing ring and a motocross dirt track.

To commemorate its quarter-century, a number of investments and regeneration projects have taken place over the last 12 months. Alongside the refurbishment of all bars onsite, the arena’s Exit Seven performance area has been upgraded in a bid to further support the emerging talent that relies on the space.

Two “Wall of Fame” designs have also been constructed around the arena, featuring the names of artists that have performed at the venue throughout the years. Since opening in 1993, acts to have performed include Beyoncé, P!NK, Elton John and Oasis.

“The Arena is a favourite for fans”

Speaking of the anniversary and the refurbishment projects, general manager Phil Sheeran, says: “Live Nation’s investment and commitment to the Arena these past 25 years has brought some of the biggest stars and the very best music, entertainment and sporting events to Wales and the South West.

“The Arena is a favourite for fans. Seeing international artists up-close and feeling part of the action is just one of the reasons why people return time and again.”

Huw Thomas, leader of Cardiff Council comments: “The Arena has been an important entertainment partner in Cardiff for the past 25 years, and was a critical part of Cardiff becoming the UK’s first Music City.”

2018 has seen a number of sold out shows for the venue, including performances from Paramore, Dua Lipa and Noel Gallagher. Upcoming shows include Florence + The Machine, Jess Glynne and the Prodigy.

 


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Live Nation given OK for second Cardiff venue

Live Nation has been granted permission to redevelop a Cardiff warehouse into a 10,000-capacity music and events venue.

In a 31 August meeting of Cardiff Council’s licensing subcommittee, city councillors voted to grant a premises licence to Live Nation UK to hold six events over three weekends annually for up to 9,999 people at Splott Warehouse (pictured), located in the Splott district in the east of the Welsh capital.

Despite some local opposition – largely on the grounds of noise pollution – councillors gave the go-ahead after Sam Bush, Live Nation’s president of UK touring, addressed the committee, stating that ‘the applicants were looking to achieve new opportunities by addressing the huge demand for music in the area,’ according to council minutes.

‘Live Nation has worked in partnership with local authorities and others to ensure that its activities are sustainable, and therefore it is important to build good relationships in terms of sound management and crowd management. Live Nation respect the opinions of other and will undertake to do everything possible to mitigate the impact of any events.’

“We want to try and find a way to satisfy the demand for music in the area”

Legal advisor Phil Crier confirmed Live Nation has signed a five-year agreement with the venue that “would allow for infrastructure to be brought in aimed at minimising impact. That impact would be assessed and mitigated against accordingly.”

“There’s a huge demand in the area for music, and we want to try and find a way to satisfy the demand for music in the area, whether that’s rock music or pop or family shows,” said Bush, adding that Live Nation was looking at several venues in Cardiff, reports Wales Online. “We’re trying to bring a variety of music to the area.

“This is the first step and we want to achieve that by doing things the right way.”

Live Nation operates one other venue in Wales: Cardiff’s 5,000-capacity Motorpoint Arena.

 


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