Sheffield arena vows to beat new rival

Westlife performing at Sheffield Arena on their farewell tour.
Westlife performing at Sheffield Arena on their farewell tour.
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THE boss of Sheffield Arena has predicted it will fight off competition from a rival venue set to open in Leeds.

Steve Brailey, chief executive of Sheffield International Venues, which runs the Motorpoint Arena, Broughton Lane, Attercliffe, said the Steel City’s facility has better access and a good track record.

Leeds is developing a 12,500-seat arena which is due for completion in March 2013.

The £80 million project came in for criticism when it was allocated £10 million of Government regional funding.

Clive Betts, Labour MP for Sheffield South East, said the money should be used for projects which improve the whole of Yorkshire and the Humber, not a scheme which could threaten the viability of existing facilities.

But Mr Brailey predicted the Motorpoint Arena would remain a success.

He said: “We’re five minutes from the M1, we’ve got our own tram stop, we’ve got dedicated car parking, and so it's relatively easy to get into and out of Sheffield Arena.”

Sheffield Arena hosts the Steelers ice hockey team and other sports such as boxing.

There are also regular gigs by top music stars and touring shows such as X Factor.

Mr Brailey added the new Leeds Arena, to be run by SMG entertainment, would be a ‘nightmare’ to get to.

He said: “At the very time people will want to get to Leeds Arena, it will be rush hour in the middle of Leeds.”

Mr Betts and other Sheffield MPs argued Leeds Arena could have an “adverse, knock-on effect” for Sheffield Arena and jobs there.

In Leeds, councillors predicted there would be enough demand for both arenas to operate successfully.

Coun Richard Lewis, of Leeds Council, said: “Certain people have built up this rivalry.

“I’m not sure why it’s become this big worry. It’s not as if there’s a finite number of people who go to venues.

“There are huge swathes of people in East and North Yorkshire who feel they have a huge distance to travel if they want to go to a big event.”

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