SMG Gets New Leeds

SMG Europe looks to have beaten strong competition from Live Nation and other top venue operators and won the bid to run the new arena in Leeds, England.

"I’m absolutely delighted with the level of interest we’ve had from the field’s top names – not just in England, but worldwide," Leeds Council leader Andrew Carter told the Yorkshire Evening Post, which revealed that AEG, Global Spectrum and Logistik/GL Events had also thrown their hats in the ring.

SMG Europe and Live Nation were the last two on the shortlist and the council’s executive board decided to award the contract to the Manchester-based company at a special meeting May 14.

"Leeds is the U.K.’s most significant arena development outside London for the past 15 years," SMG Europe managing director and senior vice president John Sutherland told Pollstar. "To win the bid in competition with big names such as Live Nation and AEG is particularly satisfying, and further strengthens SMG’s position as the biggest arena operator in Europe."

SMG’s venue management portfolio includes Manchester Evening News Arena – which Pollstar figures indicate sold more tickets than any other arena in 2007 – Newcastle’s Metro Radio Arena, Belfast Odyssey Arena, The König-Pilsener Arena and Loreley Amphitheatre in Germany, and the Oslo Spektrum.

Leeds Council will now press ahead with the six-month task of choosing the arena’s developer and site. Potential locations are believed to include Holbeck’s Sweet Street and land next to Leeds United’s Elland Road.

The venue is expected to have an entertainment-focused layout that will be able to cope with national- and international-scale music concerts, allowing maximum flexibility and various types of events, and be designed so it is sympathetic to its chosen location.

Some of the cost will be met by the sale of Leeds Bradford Airport.

Once completed, the arena is expected to bring significant benefits to the city of Leeds. It is estimated an extra £28 million will be contributed each year to the local economy.