The final decision was made by councillors on the policy and resources committee on today. It proposes an Olympic-size public ice rink plus a 7,500-seat, multi-purpose arena which could stage ice skating events, plus other sports, exhibitions and shows.
Rival bidders RH Partnership with Rocco Forte had proposed a 150-room, five-star hotel, spa, winter gardens and biodome.
Explaining the choice, the council says the arena scheme would best enhance the city as a regional, national and international venue and a place to invest. It has spin-off benefits for tourism, business, residents’ quality of life and regeneration of East Brighton.
The arena scored more highly on funding proposals, deliverability and project management. It is also slightly more advanced in its design.
Annually the arena and rink would attract an estimated 2m visits by 1.4m people. The hotel complex would attract just over 300,000 visits by around 150,000 people. While the arena scheme would attract £4.3m of tourist spending a year.
The arena would inject more into the economy annually - £7.7m compared to £6.3m for the hotel complex.
The arena and rink could encourage participation in sport and provide a greater quantity and variety of attractions. They would enhance the city’s reputation as an international leisure and entertainment venue and encourage further investment.
The spa hotel was felt to provide fewer learning experiences for young people.
Two thirds of the main arena’s programme would be non-ice activities. Capacity could be increased to 11,500 with seats on the arena floor. Public skating and coaching would be available in the rink next door. The scheme’s backers, Olympic champion skaters Jayne Torvill and Robin Cousins are proposing to set up an ice dance school, aiming to become a national centre of excellence. Bids would be made for European ice events and competitions.
Food, beverage and retail outlets would be included.
A low rise residential block of 64 units would have 40 per cent affordable housing.
The successful bidders will be required to develop further details for the scheme including sustainable transport proposals. A planning application would then be needed. Work is not expected to start before the end of 2004, with completion around summer 2007.
English Heritage and the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE) would be consulted on design.
Deputy council leader Sue John said: “Top cities like Glasgow, Manchester and Birmingham have big modern multi-purpose arenas and we need our own to compete. This will be a fantastic centre for sports, entertainment or leisure, providing enviable attractions for local families and visitors alike.
“Both were exciting bids, but we felt on balance the arena and ice rink would bring the best overall benefit to the city. But it’s vital the arena scheme sustains itself financially as there is no prospect of a council subsidy.”
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