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Resorts World Arena expansion put on hold until after Commonwealth Games

NEC Group Arenas has revealed that redevelopment work at Birmingham’s Resorts World Arena will not take place until after the city’s Commonwealth Games in 2022 as it looks to support the return of the live events industry following COVID-19.

Last week, plans to expand the capacity of the arena from 15,600 to 21,600 were backed by Solihull Borough Council members. A new roof will be central to the plans, which will also include additional hospitality facilities and a new concourse.

The work had initially been due to be completed ahead of the 2022 Commonwealth Games, where Resorts World Arena will host badminton, boxing, netball, table tennis and weightlifting events.

However, with the live events industry having ground to a halt following the COVID-19 outbreak, the arena has been forced to reschedule a significant number of shows for later in the year and into 2021 and 2022.

In a statement, NEC Group said the staging of these events is “crucial” to the arena and ensuring the venue can support the live events industry in its return to business. As a result, more pressure has been placed on the arena’s diary and limited the time available to carry out the renovation work.

Guy Dunstan, managing director of NEC Group Arenas, said: “We are excited we’ll be able to still host most of the events we’ve missed over the last few months and cannot wait to play our part in what will be an historic Commonwealth Games in 2022. To accommodate the revised event dates and negate any potential delay to the Games, we have reviewed the project timelines and made the decision to reschedule the works until after the Games have finished.”

Dunstan added: “(The expansion) is great news, as now more than ever we need to look at the longevity of our business. The roof extension project is strategically important to future-proofing Resorts World Arena, ensuring we continue to attract world class talent and high-profile events for decades to come.”

The arena opened in 1980 and the redevelopment plans will see its capacity increase by 38 per cent. Up to 220 new part-time jobs are set to be created under the plans.

Expanding Resorts World Arena to a capacity of 21,600 would make the arena the biggest indoor venue in the UK. Manchester Arena currently holds the title with a capacity of 21,000 but the venue could be expanded to seat 24,000 people after an early-stage development was unveiled in March.

In April, Oak View Group published plans for a second major arena in Manchester that would have a capacity of 23,500.

Image: NEC Group