Proposals to transform Ricoh Arena ahead of the Commonwealth Games 2022 have progressed after stadium chiefs unveiled plans to construct a new entrance and convention centre.

Wasps Group has submitted a planning application to Coventry City Council to develop a pavilion entrance at the south side of the venue, along with a state-of-the-art Commonwealth Convention Centre in the venue’s existing lower halls ahead of the sporting events it will host at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.

The new south pavilion – complete with reception pods and digital signage – would provide access between Ricoh Arena’s Commonwealth Convention Centre and the rest of the 32,000-capacity venue, which is the home of Premiership rugby union team Wasps and will again be English Football League club Coventry City’s stadium from the start of 2021-22.

The creation of a 1,847 square metre Commonwealth Convention Centre for conferences and exhibitions would see the venue’s existing lower halls undergo a major transformation to deliver digital and audio visual technology, as well as the opening of a dedicated art and gallery space.

The existing 6,000 square metre indoor arena will also undergo cosmetic refurbishments in preparations for hosting judo and wrestling at the Commonwealth Games, while additional food and beverage offerings are also being introduced in the venue atrium.

If the plans are approved, it is hoped that the new south pavilion and Commonwealth Convention Centre will open early next year.

Stephen Vaughan, Wasps Group chief executive, said: “Ricoh Arena has forged an enviable reputation as a leading international venue for a variety of events over the past 15 years – attracting more than one and a half million visitors a year on average – and these changes to the venue will enable us to lay solid foundations and grow even further in the years to come, whilst developing the look and feel of the whole venue.

“We are at the sharp end of innovation – clearly demonstrated by the Vodafone Business Lounge, an innovation space designed for businesses in the West Midlands to experience the latest emerging technologies including 5G, the Internet of Things (IoT) and high-speed fibre – and this proposed investment for the new pavilion and Commonwealth Convention Centre underlines how the Commonwealth Games can leave a lasting legacy for the venue and surrounding area for many years to come.”

Around £3.8m has been made available to the venue 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 Government’s 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.

Vaughan added: “We have an exciting 18 months ahead of us, starting with the opening of a state-of-the-art sports bar and the return of Coventry City, followed by hosting a Rugby League World Cup match this October before the Commonwealth Games next summer – all while supporting Coventry’s year as UK City of Culture.”

Sarah Windrum, Chair of the CWLEP, added: “It is great that the plans have now been submitted for approval to create the new pavilion entrance and Commonwealth Convention Centre which will provide a flexible and modern facility for the conference and exhibition industry. 

“This will enable the venue to continue to attract event organisers and delegates from across the UK to the area which, in turn, will boost the economy which is one of the focal points of the CWLEP’s Strategic Reset Framework.”

Images: Wasps Group