Construction is due to start on the new arena in Cardiff Bay next year and full details of the designs will be revealed in August.
This week a public consultation was launched for the local community to let developers know their views about the arena and the wider redevelopment of Atlantic Wharf.
As well as the 15,000-spectator arena, the redevelopment will include 1,100 apartments, with shops, restaurants and bars, covering 30 acres in total.
Developers will likely submit a planning application for the first phase this autumn. Before that, they will launch a second consultation around August, called a ‘pre-application consultation’, when full details of the designs will be published for the first time.
The arena will likely open in 2025, a year later than previously planned. Its opening could mean the closure of the Motorpoint arena. However, Cardiff council has revealed Live Nation, which runs the Motorpoint and will run the Bay arena, still wants to stay in the city centre.
Live Nation will likely open an ‘Academy’ venue in the city centre, of which they have several across the UK already. These tend to be smaller venues of around 2,000 or 3,000 capacity, smaller than the 7,500 capacity the Motorpoint can hold. It’s unclear where this might be.
Details of the current ‘community consultation’ and how to respond can be found on the website: atlanticwharfcardiff.co.uk; although there are fewer new details here than expected, and no new pictures or designs of the arenas, just vague stock photos.
Councillor Russell Goodway, cabinet member for investment and development, said: “The cabinet approved the masterplan for Atlantic Wharf late last year and as a result we are now ready to commence the public consultation process.
“By making better use of the existing space, we have the opportunity to create a premier UK visitor destination— a leading international culturally diverse area to live, work and enjoy. Connecting Atlantic Wharf to Cardiff Bay provides the possibility of bringing over 1 million visitors to the city annually, resulting in the creation of thousands of new jobs and homes.”
A major part of the plan is improving public transport in the area. This would likely mean building a new metro station on Pierhead Street, with a tram-train line connecting the Bay to St Mellons, where a new Cardiff Parkway train station and park and ride is likely to be built.
Developers are hoping visitors from outside of Cardiff coming to the arena will use public transport to get to the Bay, although they are also building a multi-storey car park on the redevelopment site for those who drive.
A new pedestrian footbridge will be built over the A4232 connecting the metro station on Pierhead Street with the new arena.
According to the consultation, the developers will focus on making sure some of the economic benefits of the redevelopment will be felt by the local Butetown community— a key criticism of previous redevelopments in the Bay was that they gentrified the area.
Cllr Goodway said: “At the heart of the proposal is the drive to improve public transport across the area as part of the South Wales Metro programme, with a new transport hub connecting the city, the Bay and St Mellons to support the movement of people.
“The consortium has committed to working with the council’s ‘Into Work’ services to ensure job and training opportunities are created during both the development and operational phases of the arena and hotel with a real focus on identifying job opportunities for local people.”
The arena will likely create 500 jobs during construction and another 500 when in operation. Space will be included for local musicians to rehearse.
The Travelodge hotel on Hemingway Road would be demolished to make way for a new public square, and a new hotel would be built to the north of the arena.
Plans for another new city centre music venue were revealed on Thursday, May 20, during a meeting of the cabinet. The council is currently discussing with Live Nation about whether they want to remain at the Motorpoint once the Bay arena is built.
A recently revealed masterplan for a separate major redevelopment, around Churchill Way in the east of the city centre, showed the Motorpoint replaced by hotels, offices and apartments. If it were demolished, Live Nation could open a smaller venue in the city centre.
During the cabinet meeting, Cllr Goodway said: “We are having discussions with Live Nation. They have what they call an ‘Academy’ product which is a smaller scale events space and they would like to retain a city centre presence.
“We will work with them to see how we can build that as part of this overall redevelopment. The issue is the existing Motorpoint arena perhaps doesn’t fit: it’s too big to be a small venue but it’s not big enough to be the type of venue that we’re building in the Bay.
“We will continue to work with them to ensure that there is a city centre cultural offer.”
Responding to recent public criticism of the redevelopment plans around Churchill Way, known as the ‘canal quarter’, Cllr Goodway explained the council needs private developers to build hotels and offices in order to pay to reopen the canal buried underneath the road.
He said: “I note on social media and in the press the appetite that a lot of people have to recreate and reinstate the canal, and yet they seem to be reticent about the associated developments.
“What we must emphasise to people is that development will provide the funding to reinstate the canal— because the council isn’t going to identify public funds to make that happen.”