Bristol languishes behind Cardiff as arena decision looms

Leisure & Tourism | Property & Construction | South West
Bristol Arena

Bristol’s hospitality sector is urging the city’s leaders to build the proposed arena in the city centre.

Despite the newly released feasibility report, the call comes at a time when Bristol once again, looks across the Severn Estuary with envy as the city of Cardiff enjoys the spoils of hosting six major concerts in the Millennium Stadium.

In the month of June alone, the Welsh capital is playing host to Beyonce & Jay-Z, The Rolling Stones and four Ed Sheeran shows, attracting over 300,000 music tourists who all spend millions of pounds in the local economy. The Stereophonics also played a gig at the Cardiff City Stadium.

Meanwhile, with events in Bristol being cancelled or trimmed back – Bierfest, Grillstock and Lets Rock Bristol respectively – the city’s hotels, restaurants, bars and shops are looking at ways in which they can make ends meet.

Imran Ali, chairman of Bristol Hoteliers Association is now calling on Mayor Marvin Rees to push the button on building the arena on the Temple Meads site, before more city-centre businesses face tougher times.

The association head is also keen to highlight research which shows the impact music alone has on the Cardiff economy. One report, The UK Music Wish You Were Here report 2016, says that in 2015, 617,000 people attended music events in Cardiff including 293,000 music tourists who generated £52 million in revenue for the city.

Imran said: “The figures speak for themselves. It’s not just the venue which hosts the shows and concerts that benefits but the wider economy. Off-site spectator spend impacts activity in hotels, bars and restaurants serving visitors, as well as the supply chains of those establishments across the region.

“According to the STR data for the year-to-date occupancy levels, Bristol hotels are behind on occupancy compared to last year’s business levels. And let’s not forget that in the city centre alone, there has been nine restaurants that have closed their doors already since the beginning of the year, including big names like Jamie’s Italian.

“We can only see this situation getting worse. Furthermore, with Cardiff City FC gaining promotion to the football premiership and flights now coming in direct from Qatar to Cardiff airport means the Welsh capital’s status on the world stage is going to increase further.

“The impact of having a venue in the city centre is huge. A study conducted on behalf of the Millennium Stadium* has shown that a high proportion of economic activity (35 per cent) and employment (55 per cent) is within the hotels and restaurant sector, but the impact is spread across the entire Welsh economy as, for example, hotels purchase manufactured goods, food, cleaning and professional services in order to provide accommodation to the stadium visitors.

“The recent report talks about a “leakage of economic benefit” from Bristol, but it will be more like a torrent if the arena is built in the Brabazon hangar.

“The Temple Meads site is the only viable option. If it isn’t located there then the greater Bristol economy will suffer further still and will languish behind other, more forward thinking cities.”

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