Music arena planned to rock Straiton

An artist's impression of the planned Edinburgh Arena at Straiton. Photo: Lothian Leisure Development/PA Wire.
An artist's impression of the planned Edinburgh Arena at Straiton. Photo: Lothian Leisure Development/PA Wire.

Plans to build a new 8,000 seat indoor arena at Straiton, to attract some of the biggest names in pop to Scotland, have been revealed.

The development will see a proposed 30-acre site transformed into a mixed-use leisure and entertainment destination comprising the arena which be complimented by conference and exhibition centre, retail and leisure space, a cinema and two hotels.

It is being spearheaded by Lothian Leisure Development (LLD) Ltd, a UK-based entertainment, leisure and sports venue consultancy, in partnership with the Birmingham based NEC Group.

The ‘Edinburgh Arena’ development is expected to be completed by the end of 2023, beginning of 2024, bringing more than 600 new jobs to the area.

Announcing the venture, Dave Fowler, business development director at Lothian Leisure Development, said: “These exciting proposals showcase the modern, indoor arena that Edinburgh deserves, and with operating partner NEC on board the capital is assured a pipeline of the world’s greatest entertainment talent.

“We also look forward to applying many of the other aspects of the hugely successful NEC Campus to Edinburgh in due course.

“We see this as a revolution in entertainment provision for one of the world’s most cultural capitals – and one which will benefit all sections of the community.”

NEC Group, which already operates two indoor arenas in Birmingham, is supporting the Lothian Leisure Development bid to progress the scheme proposals to the full feasibility stage and will be responsible for the management of the arena.

Phil Mead, Arenas and Ticket Factory chairman at NEC Group, said: “We are delighted to now confirm our partnership with LLD which will hopefully see us manage our first venue in Scotland.

“Edinburgh is well known for its wonderful cultural offering but remains one of the only European capital cities without an indoor arena and so we’re excited by the thought of being able to bring some big names in entertainment to the region.”

Lothian Leisure Development is currently in discussion with several parties to secure funding for the development phase of the project.

Over the coming months LLD and the NEC Group will be working closely to progress the proposals to full scheme design stage and to carry out a series of public consultations.

The plans received a positive response from Edinburgh-based music promoter Mark Mackie of Regular Music.

Mackie, who also promotes the annual Castle Concert series at Edinburgh Castle, says, “A venue offering audience capacities between 5,000 to 8,000 will dovetail nicely with the existing facilities in Edinburgh and Glasgow.

“We eagerly await the opening when we look forward to presenting a varied range of artists.”

Dave McGeachan of Scottish concert promoter, DF Concerts, added: “These days it is rare that a Capital city doesn’t have an Arena, so this is a long awaited and positive addition to the Scottish entertainment market.”

The Arena is the brainchild of Lothian Leisure Development Chairman, Edinburgh entrepreneur Tom Ponton who added, “When I was young, back in the 50s, Edinburgh had the Waverley Market where they held the Ideal Home Exhibition, the Funfair evert every Christmas and the Scottish Motor Show, we are now at 2019 and Edinburgh does not have such a facility in the city for such events. As the chairman of a new Scottish company determined to deliver the best arena in Scotland and the only one not subsidised by the public purse.”

Ponton, who was born and brought up on the Royal Mile and served 23 years in local government in the Capital, is joined on the board of Lothian Leisure Development by Nick Brown, formerly of international architects AHR Global and Dave Fowler, who has 25 years in the music and entertainment industry working for the likes of Walt Disney, Sky, Universal and Ministry of Sound among others.