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The Bristol Arena: An eagerly awaited arrival

Arena Photo

Bristol has never had a “go-to” venue such as London’s 02 or Cardiff’s Motorpoint Arena. Until now. Earlier this year, plans for a new world-class entertainment arena were revealed. The stunning cylindrical arena, designed by Populous in partnership with Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios in Bath, aims to bring the best of entertainment (and design) to Bristol.

Selecting the Arena’s location on Bath Road, along from Bristol Temple Meads Railway Station, the Council are hoping to help regenerate a run down city centre site, left for decades without investment, whilst politicians focused on regenerating the Harbourside, Broadmead and Cabot Circus.

Of course it is ironic that just as the plans for the Arena are taking shape, Bristol is getting used to its new elected Mayor – and that George Ferguson, whose flagship programme this was, is beginning to fade in the city’s collective memory.

Seating 12,000, the Arena will finally fill the gaping hole in Bristol’s entertainment sector. With over 100 events a year, the much-loved Colston Hall will no doubt be relegated to Bristol’s second choice venue – and much needs to be done to ensure that the Colston Hall remains viable and attractive: fund-raising has already begun and another overhaul is planned for the near future. At the Arena the flexibility of the new space is astounding; with room for 4,500 theatre enthusiasts, conference space and an auditorium for sporting events such as tennis, basketball and gymnastics, there will be something for everyone and a new social hub for Bristol.

Whilst the immediate local community within the Temple Meads area will directly benefit from an influx of visitors, Bristol as a city will see great economic benefit from the £90 million entertainment development. On any one evening the Arena could see anything from three to six thousand visitors arriving via rail, ready to spend an evening in Bristol or even stay the night. With this in mind, many businesses may start to increase their opening hours – not only on weekends but weekdays too.

It is clear that Bristol is continually looking towards the future, with new projects popping up around the city every day. The regeneration and new development scene is starting to boom once again.