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Plans outlined for 10,000-capacity arena in Sunderland

Plans have been unveiled for a new 10,000-capacity arena in the English city of Sunderland, with the venue forming part of a wide-ranging development that also includes a food hall, restaurants, a hotel and studios.

The Riverside Sunderland masterplan has been earmarked for the site of the former Crowtree Leisure Centre. It is hoped that the new arena will bring hundreds of thousands of visitors to Sunderland every year.

Sunderland City Council is working with a range of partners to deliver the project, including a UK-based “industry-leading operator” to shape the plans. The arena would cost £80m (€95.9m/$108m) to build and the project has already attracted over £20m in funding from the council and national Government.

The project will move into the advanced design stages if Sunderland’s Cabinet signs off the proposed budget for the scheme. The plan ties in with other projects that are underway and planned for the former Vaux Brewery site and Sheepfolds sites in Sunderland.

Councillor Graeme Miller, leader of Sunderland City Council, said: “The rate of transformation in our city points to the level of regeneration we are delivering for Sunderland, and this development raises that bar higher.

“We set out an ambition to bring more experiences to the city as part of our Riverside Sunderland investment strategy, and you only have to look at the change to date in the city centre to see that it is more than an aspiration – it’s something we’re determined to make a reality.

“We’re transforming Sunderland – we’re delivering on our promises to residents – and we’re proud to be spearheading a programme of change in Sunderland that is unlike any period of change in living memory. This new investment will be an incredible addition to the city centre.”

The arena forms part of the council’s successful bid to the UK Government’s Future High Street Fund, which is earmarked to enable the demolition of the remains of the former leisure centre and to undertake associated works to accelerate the plans.

The development will be subject to a long-term lease agreement with a leisure operator, the income from which will recoup the council’s initial investment.

Sharon Appleby, chief executive of Sunderland BID, added: “Today’s announcement is a significant one, creating a new leisure destination that will attract yet more businesses who want to be part of the city’s journey and who can take advantage of the huge investment and transformation underway in the heart of Sunderland.

“This is good news for our existing traders, delivering a facility that will complement the existing offer in Sunderland, and grow Sunderland’s reputation as an ambitious city with world class facilities and attractions. And it’s great news for residents, who can look forward to the next exciting stage of the city’s evolution.”

Image: Riverside Sunderland