Hillsborough Park 'the best place' for a relocated Tramlines festival in Sheffield

The Devonshire Green stage at this year's Tramlines. Picture: Dean Atkins
The Devonshire Green stage at this year's Tramlines. Picture: Dean Atkins

Hillsborough Park is the 'best place' in Sheffield for a relocated Tramlines festival in 2018, its bosses have argued - and the proposal has the full backing of the city council's major events chief.

At a public meeting in Hillsborough, Ralph Broadbent, a key shareholder in the Sheffield music festival, said moving the main stage from the 17,500-capacity Ponderosa in Upperthorpe would allow Tramlines to effectively double the main stage audience for its 10th anniversary next July.

"We can run a festival here for about 40,000 people in a similar vein to what Tramlines has been before.

"This is the best place for it. This is definitely where we want to bring it."

Ralph admitted that no other similar-sized Sheffield parks were in the frame, citing the new site's good public transport links to the city centre, and couldn't promise to maintain a stage in Endcliffe Park, reasoning: "We really want to make Hillsborough the central hub."

But he said the relocation would allow Tramlines to offer a proper family element, and that local businesses were likely to benefit.

"Without a shadow of a doubt it brings in millions of pounds. I will eat my hat if businesses do not benefit enormously."

A working group will be set up to address residents' concerns about noise, traffic, vandalism and the specific parts of the park Tramlines will occupy.

Wednesday night's Hillsborough Forum meeting, at the Trinity Methodist Church on Middlewood Road, was attended by about 40 people - a significantly higher turnout than usual - ranging from pensioners to shopkeepers and parents.

Richard Eyre, the council's head of major events who was one of Tramlines' founders in 2009, said a change was necessary as the venture had become 'too successful'.

"It's outgrown the city centre. This is a great move. We think Hillsborough Park is the right site."

But he emphasised: "This is not a done deal. The council has not signed this off yet.

"This side of Christmas, we need to have a decision and press the button on it."

Dave Healy, a former festival director whose company owns shares in Tramlines, asked how the festival would be paid for, given it had 'made operational losses of £300,000 in the last two years'.

Ralph replied: "The festival has absolutely no concerns about its solvency. It's run for 10 years and made losses. It's only made money one year, I think."

Richard advised Ralph and fellow Tramlines organiser Alex Deadman, who also took questions, to 'crack on and sell tickets', and urged them to secure big headliners quickly. 'Super early bird' passes for 2018 have already sold out.

"We would like to make significant progress this side of Christmas," said Ralph.

The idea was to run a festival 'all under one roof, in one park', he explained.

"We want to make it more family-friendly. If we've got ticket money to put into it we can really start to develop the family element.

"The option of going back to what we've done in previous years would inhibit us. That's not where we want to go."

He pledged: "There's still going to be lots happening in the city centre."

Ralph and Alex remained tight-lipped about whether the Arctic Monkeys were being courted to top the bill with a homecoming gig next year, but agreed suitably high-profile artists would be needed to attract a large enough crowd.

More meetings are set to take place.