Bristol

Bristol Arena: Should it be built with taxpayers' money?

Image copyright City Design Group
Image caption The 12,000 capacity Bristol Arena could be completed by June 2017

A financial plan for funding the building of a £91m indoor entertainment arena has been approved by Bristol City Council's cross-party cabinet.

Mayor George Ferguson said the council would need to take out a loan to help build the arena, but added that the City Deal and rent paid by the venue operator should cover the cost.

The decision has prompted debate about whether building an arena is a good move for the city and whether taxpayers in Bristol should be footing some of the cost.

Bristol-based concert promoter Conal Dodds

"Every big British act will have played in Bristol, it was just that their ceiling would have been the Colston Hall or Bristol Academy.

"If you want to play a much bigger venue, an arena, you had to go to Cardiff, that was the next biggest place.

"When an act gets beyond Colston Hall level, generally they've crossed over into the mainstream and lots more people want to go and see them.

"Bands like Coldplay, for example, have played in Bristol but can't play here anymore unless it's some low key show because they have to go where the demand is.

"If you can play to 12,000 people in Bristol, as opposed to 2,000 people, they're much more likely to come here.

"There isn't a big arena in the south west of England. The nearest place you can go [in England] is Birmingham or London."

Bristol boxing promoter Jamie Sanigar

Image copyright (C) British Broadcasting Corporation
Image caption Bristol's biggest music venue is the 2,000-capacity Colston Hall

"We do promote in Bristol but we are limited to about a 1,500 capacity.

"We're currently trying to negotiate Lee Haskins to box for a world title and we've got nowhere in the city to host it.

"The city is letting down our best sporting talents because they can't host them to feature in these big events. Bristol is the largest city in the UK without an arena.

"We are just a million light years behind and the council and whoever was responsible over the last 10 to 15 years - when every other city leapt on to it and built their arenas - it's a shambles and they should be ashamed that we've been left behind.

"George Ferguson has been left to pick up the pieces and I'm hoping George, with his background, will be able to deliver this for Bristol."

Bristol blogger Louise Whittle

"It just seems such a huge amount of money. I just see it as one of George Ferguson's vanity projects.

"Local pollution is going to increase, more carbon emissions... air quality is going to be affected.

"All this and George Ferguson maintains that Bristol is a green city.

"How can that be still possible when we've got all this in the short-term?

"Also in the longer term people will be affected. Bristol is already congested and this is going to be worsened by this.

"I just don't see the need for an arena because there are other venues - Ashton Gate, Colston Hall - why aren't they putting money into them to spruce them up?"

Jeremy Richards, of property management firm Jones Lang LaSalle

"We can't afford not to have an arena.

"Our experience of working on these projects elsewhere is that it does drive further corporate investment, further jobs, further employment, and the spin-off that we get over the years will pay back the investment.

"We are a top core city and we've got second division facilities. Actually we've got very few facilities in truth.

"Nottingham, Cardiff and Exeter, they've all got arenas and it does give spin-off.

"It does put cities on the map and we need to be in that environment."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption There was a call for Bristol duo Massive Attack to open the arena

Your tweets and Facebook messages

Garf Locke on Facebook: "Even Leeds have opened one now and our lot are still talking, at least funding has been agreed, Lets see if it gets any further than that."

Nickey Packer on Twitter: "Yes it is definitely needed. Why is Bristol lagging behind other major cities? It's an embarrassment! Oh & also, fed up of driving to Cardiff or Birmingham for concerts. Bristol City Council - just do it!"

Tony Wilkins on Twitter: "Fantastic! Bands,live shows,sports events!!All the reasons why we need a arena!! Job creation,money what else do you need! #cantwait"

Steve Tilley on Twitter: "I have travelled to Cardiff to see REM & Pet Shop Boys; B'ham to see Peter Kaye & Faithless. Build Arena. Massive Attack to open it."

Russ King on Twitter: "Bristol is lagging behind without one. 200 mile trips to Birmingham for concerts plus exhibitions and other events. Only need to look at New Leeds and Glasgow Hydro to see success for them. If well managed can promote city to world"

Chris Mountford on Twitter: "considering Bristol's size, it's valid. But it will need proper managing & be a venue bands want to play"

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