£120m Plans for Indoor Arena & Convention Centre in Cardiff
Further news on the proposed convention centre in Cardiff has been revealed as it has now emerged that as well as a convention centre, with a capacity for up to 2,500 delegates, the plans also include looking to build an indoor arena with the capacity to accommodate 15,000 people. In total an investment of around £120m would secure both projects and if realised, would significantly improve the city’s capacity to host major events. The preferred site being looked at is Callaghan Square in the city centre.
A new indoor arena would be able to stage major sporting events and concerts, as well as annual party political conferences. It would be significantly larger than the current 5,000 capacity Motorpoint Arena, formerly known as the CIA. The convention centre has an estimated construction cost of around £60m, with the indoor arena being around the same.
The Welsh Government and Cardiff Council are exploring a number of funding options, including potentially borrowing – with a low interest long-term repayment term – from the Treasury’s Public Works Loan Board, as well as through the use of tax increment financing.
A number of site options are being considered for the two buildings – although both facilities could be incorporated into one larger scheme. These include land at the International Sport Village, and land near the Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff Bay, as well as land in around the current Motorpoint Arena. While it could not accommodate an indoor arena, a convention centre could be sited at Cardiff Arms Park, which is owned by Cardiff Athletic Club. However, it is understood that a favoured location for both buildings is on five acres of land yet to be developed at Callaghan Square.
However, a planning application to develop a new 90,000 sq ft office scheme at Callaghan Square was lodged last week with Cardiff council. Submitted by MEPC the application is for a new 90,000 sq ft office development. While the tenant is not disclosed in the application, it is understood to be law firm Hugh James. The application should be determined within the next six weeks.
This means that if plans for a convention centre and indoor areas are to be progressed at Callaghan Square, the Welsh Government and Cardiff council would have to move quickly to agree a land acquisition deal with MEPC – which alongside required road infrastructure work could cost as much as £30m – bringing the total cost of realising both schemes to around £150m.
Robert Emanuel, of property advisers Emanuel Jones, which is acting for Hugh James, declined to comment as to whether the application lodged by MEPC was intended as a new headquarters for the law firm. However, he added: “It is known in the marketplace that Hugh James is looking for a new HQ building by the spring of 2014.”