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Design & Development

Preparation work begins on YTL Arena project

Main image: YTL Arena Bristol

Body images: JMP/Ashley Crowden

Main image: YTL Arena Bristol

Body images: JMP/Ashley Crowden

Preparation works have commenced on the transformation of the Brabazon Hangars in Bristol into a live entertainment complex that will be anchored by the 19,000-capacity YTL Arena.

The project has faced several delays and it remains unclear when the arena will be able to open. In January 2023, the opening date for the arena was pushed back until late 2025 or early 2026.

With construction work still to begin, the opening date is likely to be pushed back further but the project has moved forward today (Tuesday) with the announcement that site preparation and enabling work has commenced.

The initial phase of the project began with decontamination of the site carried out by Omega Environmental Services. This will be followed by demolition of non-essential structures before the start of the main construction programme.

YTL Construction UK, a new company that will be part of the international YTL Group, will be responsible for transforming the Brabazon Hangars into a new multi-purpose arena. Once completed, YTL Arena will be the fourth largest indoor arena in the UK, behind Manchester’s Co-op Live and AO Arena, and The O2 in London.

Andrew Billingham, chief executive of YTL Arena Bristol, said: “We’re pleased with the progress and are pushing forward, albeit slower than originally planned. Handing over the Hangars to Omega represents a pivotal milestone.

“We have tackled challenges head-on making crucial decisions to expedite the opening while ensuring we deliver one of the premier arenas in Europe. Once main construction has started, we estimate it being a two-and-a-half-year build programme.

“It is well documented that construction companies are facing difficulties, and with the international experience the YTL Group has in construction and project management, it is a logical step for us to control the whole process through to operation.”

YTL Corporation is an international infrastructure business operating principally in Malaysia, China, Japan, Singapore and Australia. The company’s goal with the YTL Arena project is to create the most responsible and sustainable arena in Europe, with the venue set to be 100% electric.

The arena is projected to create 500 jobs, increase overnight stays in the city region by more than 300,000, and provide a £60m (€70m/$76m) boost to the city region’s tourism economy.

It was initially hoped that the arena could open in 2023, but in April 2021 the delivery date slipped to 2024. Last year, this was pushed back further due to delays resulting from the impact of COVID-19 and the general challenges in the construction market, and late 2026 now appears to be the earliest the arena will open.

The arena is being developed on the former Filton Airfield, with the wider complex to also include conference spaces. The arena itself will sit in the Central Hangar of the Brabazon Hangars in the north of Bristol.