On the 19th June, we exhibited our plans in City Park and answered questions about our proposal. We were impressed by the often insightful comments and questions, and thought it would be useful to summarise below the main questions. If anyone has further questions or comments, please do not hesitate to drop us an e-mail.
1 | What is the maximum capacity of the venue?
Up to 3500 seated and up to 4000 with stalls standing. The operator has some discretion regarding the capacity it prefers to operate at, and also about the type of seating used and the size and shape of the stage. All of these factors have a bearing on overall capacity, which is why we do not quote exact figures.
2 | Will the venue just be for live music?
No, we expect the operator to host a variety of live music, live comedy, live family entertainment, live Bollywood shows, and some live sporting events. We also expect regular ‘club nights’ for students. In addition, we have planned the spaces so that other events, such as seminars, road shows, corporate exhibitions and conferencing can also be hosted within the building.
3 | Will the venue be open during the day?
Yes, provided there is an event on either in the main auditorium or in the former ballroom. As noted above, we believe there is demand for the Odeon to be used during the day. Not only the main auditorium, but also the former ballroom, will be available for hire, and given the lack of such space in central Bradford, we predict a regular daytime programme of events.
4 | Will the venue be open to the public?
That will depend on what events are being hosted at that time. For example, a group may want to host an afternoon fashion show in the ballroom, and allow free access to the public. Alternatively, it may be a ticketed event. That is the decision of the event organiser/promoter. The key point is that the building will not be a public space in the same way that, for example, City Park is. Our intention is not to drain people out of City Park and into the building; rather, it is to bring massively more footfall into City Park and the centre generally, by hosting major live events at the Odeon, thus benefiting the bars and restaurants that already exist, and encouraging more to open.
5 | Will you have cafes, restaurants and bars in the venue?
There will be bars within the venue, but these will be open only when the venue is open. The Odeon was designed to allow many thousands of people to move about efficiently and safely, and there simply isn’t the space to accommodate cafes and restaurants in addition to the bar areas. Besides, we envisage the Odeon working together with the existing bars and restaurants within and around City Park, and encouraging others to open.
6 | Will the former ballroom be restored?
Yes, we plan to restore the ballroom to its former art deco style. This very impressive and historic space will be available for hire.
7 | Who will own the building?
Bradford Council will continue to own the building on behalf of all the citizens of Bradford and its wider district. Bradford Live would instead take a long term lease on the building and be responsible for its care. We would appoint a professional operator to run the venue and indeed have already entered into exclusive negotiations with one of the industry’s largest and most experienced operators.
8 | How will Bradford Live make any money?
It is not the intention of Bradford Live to make any money: we want to preserve an iconic building for the public to use. Bradford Live is a charity: it exists to look after the long term interests of the Odeon building and site, and to promote live music and entertainment in Bradford generally. Any surpluses would be used to further these objectives.
9 | Who will bear the commercial risk of running the venue?
The commercial operator. The risk of running a venue as large as this should be borne only by seasoned industry operators. Bradford Live (and Bradford Council) will be shielded from any risk of having to step in and rescue the venue should it not perform as expected. Of course, to take on this risk, the operator will reasonably expect to receive the bulk of the profits. However, we do predict some additional surpluses – called overages in the industry – and these would be shared between the operator and Bradford Live.
10 | Will there be any parking?
No, there will be no parking facilities at the site. However, there are two NCP car parks within a few minutes walking distance of the venue.
11 | Is it true that Lee Craven has used his own money to get Bradford Live to where they are now?
Yes. Lee was born and bred in Bradford and runs a textile company in Great Horton. He has a long standing interest in the Odeon building and in the regeneration of his home town generally, and has used his own money to fund a team of experts who could advise on how to bring the Odeon back to life in a viable long term way. Lee remains the Project Leader, Trustee and Director of Bradford Live.