Ashton Gate reveals designs for ‘sporting quarter’

New designs have been released for a proposed 4,000-seat arena that will be built next to Bristol’s Ashton Gate stadium.

Ashton Gate chairman Martin Griffiths revealed the designs today (Thursday), with a digital fly-through providing a glimpse into how the new sports and convention centre will complement the existing 27,000-seat stadium.

It is hoped a planning application will be submitted at the end of the summer, with work potentially beginning in May or June next year.

Plans for the arena were first revealed in September 2018. The venue will serve as the home of the Bristol Flyers basketball team, which currently plays at the SGS College Arena.

Ashton Gate is home to Championship football club Bristol City and Premiership rugby union team the Bristol Bears. The new arena would significantly expand the footprint of the stadium and would form part of a £100m (€120m/$130m) development that will also include housing, offices, a multi-storey car park and two hotels.

Griffiths said: “It’s really exciting to be able to show the digital fly-through to everyone today. We’ve talked a lot about creating a sporting quarter for the city where our football, rugby and basketball teams will all play.

“Since first announcing plans back in September 2018 we’ve been busy consulting with as many stakeholders as possible. The reaction and interaction that we’ve had has been really positive and has brought us to the designs we are showing today. There is now more open space and public realm areas along with a reduction in the height of the tallest buildings.

“We think that these latest designs are a great step forward and next month on March 24-25, we will hold a public exhibition at the stadium to outline the plans with more detail. This public exhibition will give everyone a chance to view and comment on the plans, which we hope to submit for planning at the end of the summer.”

The announcement comes after Malaysian investment firm YTL in November submitted plans for a new multi-purpose arena in Bristol. The project centres on the repurposing of the Brabazon Hangars in the north of the city and includes plans for a 17,080-seat arena, which would be the third largest in the UK after The O2 and Manchester Arena.

Speaking to Bristol Live, Griffiths dismissed suggestions that YTL’s plans would serve as a threat to the Ashton Gate project.

“We don’t see any other development as a threat to us as we think we will be utterly unique,” Griffiths said. “Bristol has come from a place that has had, frankly, nothing.”

He added: “It is unique in the overall family of sport and the offering here. They are a completely different scale. I think it’s good for the city if it has all of it. There is a broad market that can accommodate all of them.”

Image: Ashton Gate