Resorts World Arena in Birmingham will become the largest arena in the UK and Ireland when expansion plans have been completed. The scheme for a major expansion and part-refurbishment of Resorts World Arena have just been submitted to Solihull Council. The proposals would see capacity at the venue increase to 21,600, overtaking the O2 London and Manchester Arena. The plans call for improvements to the existing service offering within the arena, and an enhanced visitor experience through internal and external upgrades. 

The scheme includes part demolition of the existing arena, internal and external reconfiguration, extension of the existing building, external refurbishment works, and other associated works including landscaping. The alterations would enable Resorts World Arena to accommodate a wider range of events and larger audiences, further establishing the NEC as one of the UK’s top exhibitions and entertainment venue. A planning application submitted to Solihull Council said that the proposed expansion of Resorts World Arena seeks to ensure that all the shortcomings of the existing Arena are addressed and that the venue will ultimately be capable of hosting the largest live productions and providing the highest quality user experience for the foreseeable future.

It said: “The proposals will enable the roof to be replaced, strengthened and raised to address its currently restricted height and weight bearing capacity and to increase the maximum visitor seating capacity. By extending the capacity of Resorts World Arena to 21,600, it would be elevated to the largest indoor venue in the UK and Ireland market in terms of capacity and gross earning potential. This will ensure that major artists and the largest world class productions continue to come to the West Midlands, thus protecting the significant contribution that the Arena provides to the local and regional economy.”

Commonwealth Games 2022

The newly expanded and improved Arena will be completed prior to the Birmingham Commonwealth Games 2022 and will act as a venue during the games. To ensure limited disruption to the existing business during construction, the Arena will continue to operate during the associated demolition and construction works, which are intended to begin in June 2020 and be completed by May 2022.

Birmingham and Solihull enjoy the strongest UK arena entertainment market outside of London in terms of number of performances and attendance, with Resorts World Arena attracting most of the UK’s major live touring events and hosting a significant number of single venue events since it was first opened in 1980. Resorts World Arena is currently in the top tier of UK venues in terms of ca pacity (15,600), with only the O2 London and Manchester Arena (both circa 19,000) offering a greater capacity.

Arena market growing

However, the Arena based market is growing and evolving, and RWA needs to ensure it remains attractive and competitive on a national and international stage. Over the past 40 years, concert and event productions have grown and evolved significantly. Consequently, the rigging requirements for sound, lighting, screen and show related infrastructure have increased. Alongside this customer expectations and demands are driving requirements for larger venues with the highest quality user experience in terms of services, facilities and hospitality.

The existing Resorts World Arena has a limited existing weight loading and height clearance which is now restricting the number and scope of events which can be accommodated. The external appearance and environment are also dated and in need of improvements, and the internal hospitality offerings would benefit from further enhancements. Furthermore, the proposed expansion to Resorts World Arena will in turn enhance the NEC site destination offer, which includes the NEC, Bear Grylls Adventure Centre and Resorts World, and will compliment future developments. The benefits of the proposed development are clearly substantial.

In addition, new employment opportunities will be created during both construction and operation of the expanded venue. These jobs will largely benefit local people, contributing towards the economic regeneration of North Solihull. The proposed development will facilitate the continued growth of an indisputable economic asset for Solihull and the wider region which currently:

• Captures and generates a share of the £1.1 billion added each year to the UK economy by live music events, in turn supporting around 30,500 jobs – and rising – across the country1;

• Attracts a combined audience of around 750,000 people to the Arena each year. One in three travel fromoutside the Midlands and thereby support the wider visitor economy, which is breaking records in the area and supporting around 135,700 jobs through visitors’ expenditure of £12.6 billion each year. Tourists attending music events have been specifically shown to make a significant economic contribution across the wider region.