The NEC Group, which runs the UK’s largest conference and exhibition centre and two of the country’s busiest arenas, will take a 30-year lease on the building and invest £2m towards the conversion costs. The transformed Odeon is expected to open in 2020.
NECGI harnesses the Group’s expertise in managing world-class venues, and with over 40 years’ experience in the exhibition, meetings and live events industries, it offers consultancy services and venue management to organisations who are considering either building a new live events venue or repositioning current facilities.
NECGI has exciting plans to use the building to its full potential, bringing live music, comedy, Bollywood shows, and other live performances to the biggest ‘mid-size’ venue in the country outside London and putting Bradford firmly back on the national live music touring circuit.
The plan to re-open the building as a music venue has been welcomed by some of the country’s top bands. The Kaiser Chiefs said: “We’ve played a lot of great old theatre venues. Beautiful old buildings are perfect for rock ‘n’ roll shows – it can make a real difference performing in these characterful rooms compared to plain black box type venues. The Bradford Odeon would make a brilliant venue for the north, especially as there isn’t a room of that size in either Leeds or Bradford. It’d be a regular on the touring circuit.”
Francis Rossi, of Status Quo, said: “What the country needs is more places that can host concerts, so that people can get out and hear great live music. We’ve toured up and down the country more than most and we know that places like this are essential. The Bradford Odeon has a great history and should be brought back into service.”
As well as the main auditorium, the magnificent 1930 art deco ballroom will be fully restored to its original splendour to host weddings, banquets, corporate and conferencing events and other live performances.
The NEC Group currently delivers more than 750 events to over seven million visitors annually across its venues in Birmingham, and will bring their unrivalled expertise to Bradford, working closely with the other city centre live performance venues, the Council, schools, the College and University, and other key city stakeholders. They recognise that successful event venues cannot exist in isolation, but are part of a much bigger destination offer.
Lee Craven, Director of Bradford Live, said: “Bradford Live is delighted to announce NEC Group International as our Operator Partner for the Odeon. They bring a wealth of experience and resource and the work they did to win the bid was hugely impressive. They understand the building thoroughly and what its transformation will mean for the City. The 30-year commitment NEC has made allows Bradford Live to unlock a majority of the funding needed to restore the building and we are now working closely with the Council to ensure the full funding package is secured. Bradford Live looks forward to partnering with NEC Group and Bradford Council to ensure that Bradford will soon have one of the very best live music/event venues in the UK. “
Phil Mead, Managing Director, NEC Group Arenas, said: “The NEC Group is focused on creating destinations of the future and is committed to connecting audiences with great content, creating unforgettable live experiences.
“Bradford Odeon, once restored, will breathe new life into an historic building which has played a pivotal role in the city’s past. The redeveloped venue, as part of the ongoing regeneration of Bradford city centre anchored around City Park, will deliver jobs and investment and transform the live event and entertainment offer of the City. It’s a really exciting , ambitious project which provides us with an opportunity to showcase our venue management skills. We look forward to partnering with Bradford Live to bring it to life and to delivering a new venue of choice to the entertainment and events market.”
Bradford Council Leader, Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe, said: “Bradford Live has done a great job. NEC Group International is a major brand and one of the leaders in its field. They have played a pivotal role in the regeneration of Birmingham over the past forty years. They have the ability to create a fantastic live events venue at the heart of our city in the historic Odeon. We are working closely with Bradford Live to secure the remaining funding needed. For example we have already announced that we’ll be pitching for the Northern Cultural Regeneration Fund and are working on other funding sources too.
“The venue will bring new entertainment and cultural opportunities to Bradford, supporting our local economy by increasing visitors to the city, attracting investment and delivering jobs.”