Venue management group SMG Europe has been confirmed as the operator for a planned £260m (€291m/$331m) arena complex on Gateshead Quays.

The site on the banks of the River Tyne will include a 12,500-capacity concert hall, conference centre and hotel.

The complex, which is expected to open in 2023, will sit between the existing Baltic arts centre and the Sage music venue.

John Sharkey, executive vice president of SMG Europe, said: “We’re delighted to be working with Gateshead Council on this exciting scheme, to move our established business across to such an iconic, central location. The North East has always been an important region for SMG and we look forward to building upon the ongoing success of the Utilita Arena and Whitley Bay Playhouse, to further develop the events landscape and strengthen the North East economy.

“Our events calendar continues to be incredibly strong in Newcastle and we’ve recently welcomed fantastic new partnerships with Utilita, LNER and Metro Radio, among others.

“This ongoing commitment and investment, allied to the vision and ambition from Gateshead Council and AskPatrizia, demonstrates a very clear bellwether for the regional economy, and the attractiveness of the events sector in Newcastle/Gateshead. We look forward to working with a range of national and regional partners, to bring more entertainment, conferencing and exhibitions to Gateshead Quays and cement its reputation as a world-class leisure and cultural destination.”

The latest designs by HOK architects for the complex have been released after months of talks between the council and investors to secure the funding required to push ahead with the development.

Cllr Martin Gannon, leader of Gateshead Council, added: “This is an exciting step forward for Gateshead and North East England. Working with SMG is a game changer for the project and for this landmark site.

“It will build on our existing iconic developments on Gateshead Quays creating a truly world-class cultural, events, entertainment and business destination. This development is a catalyst for regional growth within the retail, hotel and leisure sectors.”

Image: HOK