Arena takes a hit from Leeds

Arctic Monkeys playing the Sheffield Arena
Arctic Monkeys playing the Sheffield Arena
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The opening of the Leeds Arena has taken its financial toll on its counterpart in Sheffield - but not to the extent predicted.

Sheffield International Venues, which oversees the running of the Motorpoint Arena in Attercliffe, says profits have dropped by £400,000 as a result of competition arriving just up the M1 last summer.

“It was always going to be difficult to assess the impact of the recently launched Leeds Arena,” said SIV chief executive Steve Brailey. “However we have performed far better than expected.

“We had to best deal with an issue whereby neither Sheffield City Council nor anyone else could reliably estimate what the financial impact on Sheffield would be from Leeds.

“In fact, it looks as if the profit from the Arena will be only £400,000 less than an average year which compares to a Sheffield City Council study which put the impact at between £980,000 and £1.8m.

SIV, Arena managers Live Nation and the council predicted the Leeds Direct Arena would have an instant effect on Sheffield’s business, with some performers preferring a new venue. It remains to be seen what the long-term consequences will be, if any.

Sheffield countered the arrival of Leeds with a £3.5m upgrade of the 22-year-old building, including 13,600 new seats, and parking is due to be extended on the Don Valley grass bowl with a view to driving home the benefits of an arena near the motorway as opposed to one in a city centre.

It continues to attract a strong and varied line-up of performances. On the way are Cirque du Soleil, Disney on Ice, Lee Evans, The Spanish Riding School of Vienna, Kings of Leon, Kylie, John Bishop, Katie Perry and Bryan Adams.

Yet the £400,000 drop in profit is effectively passed to the council, which subsidises SIV, at a time of severe financial restraints. It can be absorbed with major cuts to services, says the authority.

Paul Billington, the council’s director of culture, said: “The city council is working closely with Sheffield City Trust and Live Nation to ensure the Arena continues to deliver a great programme of events for the city. The recent investment to improve the venue’s facilities is proving to be a further boost to the Arena and we’re confident that it will continue to generate a major profit for the city.”