Cardiff Council targets 2023 opening as arena project moves forward

Cardiff Council has announced that a proposed new 15,000-seat indoor arena could open in the Welsh capital by the summer of 2023 after the project took another step forward.

Cardiff Council’s Cabinet has granted approval for the Council to purchase the Red Dragon leisure complex in Cardiff Bay, part of the package of land intended for the arena. The Council said securing control of the site will provide all of the land it needs to build the new facility.

The total site for the new arena and associated development is around 25 acres made up of the 13-acre Red Dragon Centre site and the 12-acre County Hall site. Heads of Terms have been agreed with the current owners and the deal is set to be complete in January.

The Council said it aims to have completed the procurement process to appoint a development partner and operator for the new arena by April, with a view for a detailed planning application to be submitted by the developer before September. The Council said that if this phase progresses smoothly work could start on site by May 2021, with the arena built and operating by the summer of 2023.

Cllr Russell Goodway, Cabinet Member for Investment and Development at Cardiff Council, said: “Putting together this land deal will enable us to offer absolute certainty to the developers who want to build and operate the new arena that the proposed site is in place and ready to go.

“The tender process to find the best consortium to build and operate the new indoor arena is well underway and at the beginning of December the council received the ‘outline solutions’ from the remaining two bidders in the process.

“The next stage will see the bidders submitting their ‘detailed solutions’, which does come at a significant design and feasibility cost to both applicants. It is therefore essential that the Council is able to provide the two remaining bidders with certainty that the site for the new arena is secured.”

In July, the Council had said a December 2023 opening was being targeted as it launched tender plans for a developer. Further plans for the £500m (€588.3m/$654.3m) mixed-use development on which the arena would sit were revealed in March this year.

The 30-acre development would include 200,000 square feet of retail space, 50,000 square feet of restaurants and bars, 45,000 square feet of leisure space and 40,000 square feet of office space, as well as a cinema complex, 350-bedroom hotel, a 2,000-space multi-storey car park and waterfront apartments.

The council granted permission for detailed design works to commence on a new indoor arena back in November 2018. The new arena would complement Cardiff’s 5,000-seat Motorpoint Arena and the 74,000-capacity Principality Stadium.

Image:Visit Cardiff