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Ricoh Arena set to boost conference and exhibition facilities

Coventry’s Ricoh Arena has secured a multi-million-pound government funding package to enhance its conference and exhibition facilities, a move that will also benefit the staging of the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

Around £3.8m (€4.2m/$5m) has been made available to the stadium via the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP), which successfully secured the investment from £66m worth of government funding that was provided to the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) as part of the Getting Building Fund.

An additional £1.4m has also been made available to Ricoh Arena via CWLEP from the Local Growth Fund and Growing Places Fund.

The estimated £5.3m investment will see a new pavilion installed, complete with digital signage, at the south entrance of the venue as part of plans to launch a Commonwealth Convention Centre that will offer 1,847 square metres of state-of-the-art audio visual and conference facilities.

The Commonwealth Convention Centre will be created as a result of major refurbishment works of the Ricoh Arena’s lower halls on the south side of the venue. This means that visitors to the venue will soon have access to more than 8,000 square metres of conference and exhibition event space.

The existing 6,000 square metre Ericsson Hall will also undergo state-of-the-art cosmetic refurbishments in preparations for hosting judo and wrestling as a venue for Birmingham’s staging of the 2022 Commonwealth Games, while additional food and beverage offerings are also being introduced in the venue atrium.

Stephen Vaughan, chief executive of Ricoh Arena, said: “This investment ensures that Ricoh Arena and North East Coventry will continue to feel the economic benefit of having the Commonwealth Games for many years to come thanks to its top-class facilities.

“As a venue we take great pride in being at the forefront of the event industry’s curve – as was seen with the implementation of 5G technology last year – and we feel this latest investment will enable us to realise the venue’s full potential by attracting more large scale conferences and exhibitions, on top of the hundreds that we already host every year, and in turn, creating more jobs from additional food and beverage outlets.

“This is an exciting time for Coventry with City of Culture and Commonwealth Games on the horizon, and we are looking forward to playing our part in helping the region to flourish from both of their legacies in the years to come.”

The news comes after it was announced last week that newly promoted Championship football club Coventry City will groundshare with Birmingham City at St Andrew’s for a second successive season.

Coventry spent its promotion-winning 2019-20 campaign at St Andrew’s amid a long-running battle between Sisu, which owns the club, and Wasps Holdings Limited, the parent company of Premiership Rugby club Wasps and the Ricoh Arena, where Coventry had previously played its home games.

Coventry earlier announced that it is working with the University of Warwick to explore a potential new stadium for the club. An exact site has yet to be agreed but Coventry said it would likely be located on the agricultural field area of the university land on its main campus.

Image: Ricoh Arena