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More details revealed on Indoor Arena plans for Cardiff

Cardiff Arena. Credit: Cardiff Council

More details on exciting plans for the redevelopment of Cardiff Bay alongside the new 15,000-capacity indoor arena have been revealed.

Further details on Cardiff Council’s plans to create a premier UK visitor destination, which could attract one million visitors every year and bring over £100m per annum into the local economy, are explored in an update report to the local authority’s Cabinet.

The report includes news on:

  • The new indoor arena which is being delivered in partnership with Live Nation, Oak View Group and Robertson;
  • Options for a new Red Dragon Centre;
  • Work with the Wales Millennium Centre to create a cultural production partnership; and
  • A new, council-operated, 1,300-space, multi-storey car park which will contain electric charging points, a solar farm and other green initiatives including a ‘living green wall’ and a hydroponics facility.

Delivering a new indoor arena is widely regarded as the missing piece of the city infrastructure needed to cement Cardiff’s international reputation as a major events city. It has been a long-standing ambition and aspiration shared by successive council administrations which have retained a ring-fenced budget since 2006 to help make a private-sector led proposal, supported by the council, a reality.

Cabinet Member for Investment and Development, Cllr Russell Goodway, said: The city’s business community have backed the project for many years, particularly the hospitality sector. The private sector will be taking the lion’s share of the risk associated with the delivery of the arena. The council’s aim has always been to deliver a tier one arena on a cost neutral basis to the Cardiff tax payer. To do this the council will have to invest in some of the upfront costs of the project, but these will be recovered from our private-sector partners, who will commit to a long-term commercial lease of the arena. This project and the spin off projects we are looking to bring alongside it will play a key role in delivering jobs for Cardiff as we look to recover from the pandemic.”

The delivery of the 15,000 capacity arena is regarded as the key element in Cardiff Council’s Atlantic Wharf Masterplan, designed to kick start the next phase of regeneration in Cardiff Bay. As part of that regeneration the council is working up plans with the Wales Millennium Centre (WMC) to create a cultural partnership which will vastly expand the number of shows and cultural offerings the city will be able to host and produce.

Cllr Goodway said: “The cultural sector alongside the hospitality sector has been hit hard by the pandemic so it’s important we do everything we can to revive it as we come out of lockdown and look to the future. Culture, music, theatre and the arts play a key role in helping a city define itself. It’s a massive draw for people and a huge part of any successful city’s economy. As well as delivering jobs and careers it can market a city to the world. Cardiff, Wales’ capital, needs to have a successful, world-class cultural offering. We are working with the WMC to look at ways to maximise opportunities to support the city’s creative economy. The partnership will see the development of local productions and content that will feed the Atlantic Wharf development, the WMC and other cityculturalvenues. It will see pioneering work being done with local communities and schools to nurture the creative talent of the future.

“We have worked up a memorandum of understanding with the clear objectives of raising the international profile of the creative sector in Cardiff; increasing the value of creative and cultural productions in the city; increasing attendance and participation in creative and cultural events, while supporting a diverse talent pipeline which will sustain the city’s creative sector.”

Meanwhile options have also been drawn up for the redevelopment of the Red Dragon Centre (RDC). These include delivering the new RDC in two phases. This would allow the redevelopment of the centre to proceed in advance of the current RDC being demolished, enabling all existing tenants to be retained.

At the meeting Cabinet will be recommended to note the progress on the plans for the Indoor Arena which is now the subject of a public consultation. A further report will be presented back to Cabinet in September seeking authority to enter into a Development Agreement with the preferred bidder. Cabinet will also be recommended to approve the outline business case for a new multi-storey car park and to authorise the development of a full business case. It will also be asked to approve an outline business case to consider options for the redevelopment of the Red Dragon Centre.