Arena plan is music to the ears of Bristol hoteliers


Bristol hoteliers have welcomed plans to build the UK’s third-largest entertainments arena in a former aircraft hangar in Filton.

Malaysian investment firm YTL this week unveiled its vision for a multi-million pound 17,080-capacity arena in the former Brabazon Hangar – birthplace of Concorde.

It would be third only to the O2 in London, and the Manchester arena, in terms of capacity.

The hangar, built in 1946, has been empty since 2009 but could enjoy a new lease of life as a world class venue.

The proposals include the adjoining east and west hangars being transformed into Festival Hall, a break-out area for the main arena show which could also be used for trade shows, exhibitions, conventions and other events, and ‘The Hub’, a place to eat, work and play, with leisure facilities, food and drink and home to small or start-up businesses.

The Bristol Hoteliers Association (BHA), which represents 40 major hotels in the city, has welcomed the proposals.

Raphael Herzog, BHA’s acting chair, said:

“The developers have spoken about this being a 365-day-of-the-year venue, which would be an amazing addition to the city’s cultural offering, and create a lot of interest from people visiting the area.

“Major events like a big-name music concert provide only a brief boost to business when they happen. But if the plans really do involve attracting significant numbers of people all year round, then that has tremendous potential for the local economy.”

Initial plans for a Bristol Arena were announced in March 2003, which would see the creation of a 10,000-seat venue near Temple Meads railway station. These plans were abandoned in 2007.

Two years later the idea of an arena being built was revived with both the Temple Quarter area and Ashton Vale being considered. The former became the preferred site in 2012, with talks of a 12,000-seat facility.

In November 2017 the Brabazon Hangar was named as a potential alternative site for an arena and less than a year later, Mayor Marvin Rees scrapped plans for a venue at Temple Quarter.

Mr Herzog added:

“There has been considerable debate for years over whether an arena should be in the city centre or at Filton, and both locations have their advantages and disadvantages.

“There is no doubt that an arena of this size could attract some huge names, which will draw many people from far and wide, and it’s therefore important that accommodation providers throughout the city are able to benefit from this influx of visitors.

“Efficient transport links between the centre and Filton could help provide a huge boost to the local economy and encourage people to choose central accommodation.

“They would then travel to the arena for the event but then also be in the ideal position to explore the many other attractions and places of interest in the city.

“An arena of the size being proposed will be a major boost for Bristol; there just needs to be a co-ordinated effort to ensure there is the correct transport infrastructure so people are encouraged to venture further than the venue itself and spend some time – and money – in other parts of this beautiful city.

“It is imperative that our local councillor’s work together to ensure the planning application is supported. Whilst Bristol is well known for its cultural and music heritage, a venue like this will put Bristol firmly on the map as a world class concert destination.

“It also represents a significant step forward in the plans to re-develop the former Filton airfield and create a vibrant new community, a place where people will aspire to live, work and visit.”

The Bristol Hoteliers Association represents 40 major hotels in the city, with around 4,000 rooms. Hotels put £200 million into the local economy.