Ricoh Makes Olympic Bid

Coventry’s Ricoh Arena is bidding to be the Midlands venue to stage soccer matches at the 2012 Olympics after Birmingham-based Premiership side Aston Villa had to withdraw its ground because it’s planning construction at that time.

The Ricoh Arena, which is home to Coventry City F.C., a league below Villa, has turned to the music business to help it make its case.

The £113 million stadium complex in the city’s Rowleys Green district fulfills the International Olympic Committee criteria that venues must be all-seated and have a capacity of at least 30,000. Grounds must also be capable of providing high-quality corporate entertainment.

The Coventry stadium, which also has a 6,000-square-metre exhibition hall, a hotel, a leisure club and a casino, has the support of Paul Latham, Live Nation’s chief ops officer for international music, and Metropolis Music promoter Conal Dodds.

Both attended a dinner for 20 key personnel at the House Of Commons Sept. 17, when the venue’s management team outlined its proposals.

“If [venue marketing manager] Liz Cooper is part of the bid team, I would imagine the whole of the 2012 Games will be in Coventry,” Dodds told the gathering. “I was invited to find a Midlands venue for Oasis and I approached Birmingham City, Derby County, Aston Villa and the Ricoh Arena.

“Aston Villa said they would need to talk to [club owner] Randy Lerner. Derby said they liked the idea but would have to have a board meeting. Birmingham City isn’t a great venue and the Ricoh dragged us in.

“The Ricoh went for it big time and the reason Oasis and Take That played at the Ricoh Arena is because of Liz Cooper’s persistence. That is why promoters across the country have taken their acts to the Ricoh because she gave it a go,” Dodds said.

Latham, whose company has also brought world-renowned artists to the venue, said its positive attitude makes it perfect for such a large-scale occasion.