A DIRECTOR of the company which will bring bands, shows, drama and comedy to Swansea’s new indoor arena has described it as a “wonderful opportunity”.
Katy Arnander, of theatre group ATG, and her colleague Claire Dixon joined council and developer representatives at the LC car park, where the 3,500-capacity venue will be built.
ATG operates more than 50 theatres and arenas in Europe, mostly in the UK, and manages venues in the USA. The company also produces shows and runs theatre ticketing websites.
Ms Arnander, director of content development, said Swansea’s new arena will be ATG’s first foray into Wales. “We are excited about it,” she said. “It’s a wonderful opportunity to work together and develop a new venue.” She said ATG worked with household music acts such as Snow Patrol and Emeli Sande, and comedians including Jack Whitehall and Carmarthen’s Rhod Gilbert. Asked if the Swansea arena’s modest capacity might deter some high profile acts, Ms Arnander said promoters and artists went to where the audience was. She added: “There are some large acts who only play stadiums. Ultimately, it’s up to the promoter and the artist.” But she envisaged big-name artists playing intimate gigs in Swansea, and that a 6,000-capacity arena in Texas managed by ATG had attracted the likes of Lenny Kravitz and Lionel Richie. Ms Arnander said the Swansea arena would work well for increasingly popular gaming events, and that
ATG would also work with the local music scene in the city.
The arena’s interior can be re-arranged to host conferences, banquets and multiple, smaller meetings.
Miss Dixon, ATG’s UK venues business manager, said it was an exciting prospect and that more than 100 jobs would be created. “Our intention is to use local talent pools,” she said.
The arena will sit alongside a new coastal park, with both facilities sitting on top of two levels of parking. They are expected to open in the summer of 2021.
A new hotel between the LC and arena is also planned, although it would be delivered separately.
A new footbridge over Oystermouth Road will link the arena to new shops, flats and a multi-storey car park.
Swansea’s Labour administration formally committed £110 million to the £134.8 million project, called Swansea Central phase one, at a cabinet meeting last week. It had previously approved the remaining sum.
The main contractor is Buckingham Group, which built the roof at Tottenham Hotspur’s new stadium and is redeveloping a stand at Fulham FC’s Craven Cottage.
Concerns have been raised by Swansea Liberal Democrats about how the council will repay borrowing costs in the medium and long term, although the party said it welcomed inward investment in the city.
The council expects 230,000 arena visits per year, with a £17million annual boost to the local economy.
Speaking at the start of work on site this week, Swansea Council Leader Rob Stewart said: “The start of Swansea Central marks a huge step in the major evolution of Swansea. “From our spectacular beach and historical landmarks, to our world-leading universities and institutions, Swansea provides a wealth of opportunity that has been undervalued for too long.”
The council’s hope is that income from Swansea Central phase one grows, and that private sector developers will be lured by the LED-clad arena to deliver further regeneration between Oystermouth Road and St Mary’s Church in phase two of the scheme.
A developer called Rivington Land – now Rivington Hark – has been working with the council on both phases.
Rivington Hark director David Henderson-Williams said council-led regeneration schemes were happening more often in the UK. “The aspiration is that the private sector will follow,” he said. He said a lot of hard work had been done to get to this point in Swansea. “I am absolutely delighted to see it happen,” he said. “The changes will become readily apparent to everybody.”
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