Plans to transform the long-derelict Bradford Odeon building into a live music and entertainment venue have taken a giant leap forward with the announcement that terms have been agreed with a major national operator.
Developers Bradford Live today announced: “NEC Group International [NECGI], part of Birmingham’s NEC Group, has been chosen as the operating partner for the Bradford Odeon. 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.”
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.”
The news comes just over a week after Bradford Civic Society members were given an exclusive tour inside the building and update on its progress.
Bradford Civic Society has also led calls to secure significant additional funding for the project from the Government’s Northern Culture + Regeneration Fund. Those calls have since been backed by both Bradford Council and developers Bradford Live, who said they would be bidding for the funding.
Bradford Civic Society Chairman Si Cunningham said, “We have been campaigning for the Odeon’s rebirth as a live music venue for some years now, and today’s news is the very best we could’ve hoped for. This is a hugely respected national operator saying they believe in Bradford’s future, and I’m now more confident than ever that this project will have a transformative effect on our city’s regeneration.”
Updated at 2.45pm
Image from the archive of Bradford Live/Tim Ronalds Architects