New £50m arena in Sheffield city centre would create 'cultural anchor of international importance'

Sheffield bus station could be replaced by a £50m ‘arena’ to boost the city centre, attract visitors and put the creative industries on the map.

Friday, 1st April 2022, 12:40 pm

A 6,000 capacity performance, arts and conference venue on the Pond Street site would host bands at night and cultural events, conferences and exhibitions during the day, it is hoped.

WHAT WOULD HAPPEN TO SHEFFIELD ARENA?

The project would see the 30-year-old Arena in Attercliffe focus on sports - and buses relocated to transform an ‘underused’ site.

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The Interchange has excellent transport links and is close to the city centre.

But its backers believe the upheaval would be worth it to create a ‘cultural anchor of national or international importance’.

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Former business minister and Sheffield MP Richard Caborn said chairing the unsuccessful bid for Channel 4 in 2018 had ‘opened his eyes’ to the wealth of creative and digital firms in the city.

And the success of the Olympic Legacy Park - which replaced Don Valley Stadium and has attracted £100m of investment - showed how it could be done.

Gerry Cinnamon plays Sheffield Arena which has a 14,000 capacity.

He said: “The Channel 4 bid told me we have some of the best creative businesses in the country. Now we need something at the centre of all that. It would anchor an area stretching from the Cultural Industries Quarter to Castlegate.

“It could be the next big development in a post-Brexit, post-Covid era. I’m convinced people still want to come together to enjoy things.”

Leeds, Liverpool and Newcastle have city centre arenas but Mr Caborn said the new venue would ‘move on’ from them due to its wide range of uses.

The bus station on Pond Street is underused and should be replace with a new venue, some believe.

Sheffield Arena has a 14,000 capacity, but bigger bands could play two nights in the new building instead of one, he added.

Mr Caborn said the Attercliffe building would not struggle to replace music with sports and cited Sheffield Steelers ice hockey team, which has just signed a contract for seven more years amid rising attendance figures.

WHAT WOULD HAPPEN TO THE BUSES?

Meanwhile, stops at the bus station could be moved to Paternoster Row, near the railway station, and High Street.

Sheffield Utilita Arena.

The new venue would also answer a need for a conference space bigger than the Octagon at Sheffield University, the City Hall and Ponds Forge sports centre, he added.

Yet it would be easily accessible on foot, by train and by car, if drivers used a proposed new park and ride near the Veolia incinerator.

Last week, Sheffield City Council published a ‘Strategic Vision’ for the city centre, which included an ambition to ‘intensify the events calendar’ and increase the number of city centre residents by 20,000 to more than 60,000.

It states: "Sheffield has a vibrant and thriving grass roots cultural scene… this includes a particularly strong theatre offer, as well as being well known for its musical heritage.

“There is also an opportunity to create a cultural anchor of national or international significance, which would boost the visitor economy.”

Bring Me The Horizon at Sheffield Arena.

Coun Mazher Iqbal, executive member for business, said he had asked officers to draw up a feasibility study.

He added: “There is so much going on, this would be a catalyst to bring it all together. We have one of the largest groups of artists outside London but we don’t have enough space to showcase what they do.”

Sheffield City Trust, which runs Sheffield Arena, declined to comment.

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Sheffield Steelers ice hockey team has just signed a contract for seven more years, amid rising attendance figures. Picture: Dean Woolley