7 May 2018
We are delighted to announce that the rebirth of the former Bradford Odeon cinema into a 4,000-capacity live music, entertainment and events venue has reached a new milestone as we have now exchanged contracts with live events company NEC Group, formally sealing our partnership. We’re thrilled to have such an enthusiastic, experienced and successful operator on board with our project. We are convinced they are the perfect partner for us and for Bradford and we look forward to working with them along side Bradford Council during the delivery of the scheme and over the coming years.
NEC Group, which runs two of the UK’s busiest arenas, the country’s largest exhibition centre and two premier conferences centres, will take a 30-year lease on the building unlocking a major part of the funding for the £20m redevelopment and securing the long-term future of the venue as a vibrant, dynamic addition to Bradford’s entertainment and leisure offer. The 1930s twin-domed former variety theatre and cinema is now on track to open late in 2020 – having been vacant since 2000.
The move has been praised by Theatres Trust – the national advisory public body for theatres, who helped save the building from demolition in 2009. Claire Appleby, Architecture Adviser, Theatres Trust said: “We are delighted by the news that the NEC Group has formally signed a deal with Bradford Live for the operation of the Bradford Odeon, a theatre that has appeared on our Theatres at Risk Register since 2008. This news brings the Odeon ever closer to reopening its doors to the public and to realising Bradford Live’s ambition to see live performance grace the stage of this spectacular cine-variety theatre once more.”
Putting Bradford firmly back on the national touring circuit, there are exciting plans for the transformed venue to host a broad range of programming from live music, comedy and corporate events to family entertainment and Bollywood shows. It already has a unique place in the hearts of people in Bradford with both The Beatles and the Rolling Stones having played there and the refurbishment project will bring the venue to life once more, completing the recent regeneration around City Park. Beyond the main auditorium, the stunning 1930 art deco ballroom will be restored to host weddings, banquets, corporate and conferencing events and other live performances.
As well as creating the full time equivalent of around fifty new jobs, the venue will play an important part in the ongoing regeneration of the city led by Bradford Council and a range of partners. Once completed, the venue is expected to host over 200 events a year, attracting 270,000 people to Bradford city centre annually and boosting the local economy by around £10 million per year.
NEC Group’s Phil Mead added: “The sealing of this deal is another crucial milestone. Our 30-year commitment supports Bradford Live to unlock much of the funding needed to restore the building. It also means we can play a real part in its detailed design stage. We live and breathe live events and we’ll be using this insight to help inform and future-proof everything about the project – providing a fantastic customer experience whilst meeting diverse operational needs. “Getting a working venue of this size into Bradford is amazing. As well as great news for live gig fans, it’s going to drive serious footfall into the city centre to support surrounding businesses and provide direct employment for local people in a seriously inspiring environment. We can’t wait to get started!”