The economic impact of YTL Arena

Author
James Durie
Chief Executive - Bristol Chamber & Initiative | Business West
4th March 2020

We work actively on making this area the best place to live and work for our whole population. We're backing the go ahead of the hugely exciting YTL Arena proposals, which will take this place a further step forward and transform the Brabazon Hangars into a major arena complex. 

We represent over 22,000 employers across our city and wider region and a number of those have taken the chance to visit the Hangars, hear all about it and comment on the proposals as they have developed over the last two years. 

We know this arena complex will create a much-needed major venue and facility for the city, and indeed this part of the UK, increasing our cultural, sporting, visitor and business offer, and putting Bristol on the map as a key European destination for events and exhibitions. It's something we have long cried out for.

The developers and owners of the site, YTL, have committed to making these existing buildings net zero carbon and we are continuing to help support them to take every action possible to achieve this by putting sustainability (in its widest sense) right at the heart of the development.

An arena complex in these enormous Hangars will be able to attract a wide variety of major and smaller events, both at weekends and during the week, attracting visitors to Bristol and the wider region from far afield and almost 365 days a year. The top line acts who currently bypass us for Cardiff, Manchester and Birmingham. Many of these events, particularly those that use the arena and the Festival Hall, will last for more than one day and will therefore attract people from afar who will stay the night, benefitting our local economy.

We know only too well that good public and other transport measures are vital for the arena complex to successfully operate, and together with the major new development on Filton Airfield and other key facilities, developments and attractions, such as Bear Wood and the Bristol Wave operating across this part of the city region. We thus support the earliest possible delivery of the rail and Metrobus line proposals. A fast connection to the city centre will ensure that businesses from across the city will benefit from the increased visitor numbers.

According to YTL’s figures, the arena will create 580 full-time good quality jobs, many of which offer clear progression and career development opportunities for local people and have a ‘living wage’ policy as the starting salary. There will also be apprenticeship opportunities throughout the construction and into operations. 124 additional indirect jobs associated with the arena complex are also expected to be created, bringing the total number of jobs to 700.

It's important to recognise that this is a very large development which will bring significant financial benefits to this area. According to YTL’s calculations it will create an additional £27.58m-£30.7m GVA per annum through direct employment opportunities. If you add this to the £60m GVA from tourism, that’s £90.7m per annum. Over 25 years that amounts to some £2.26bn.

We are pleased that the arena team has pledged to work with local business and organisations and are committed to sourcing at least 75% of their products and services locally, further benefitting our local independent businesses. In addition, many local businesses will benefit from the positive knock-on effect of the arena, with the demand for products and services generated by the local supply chain.

We know that other arenas based on a similar format of ‘arena plus’ i.e. other inter-connected event spaces, have been highly successful over the past few years. The SSE Hydro, for example, generated £450 million for Glasgow’s economy in 2018 attracting live entertainment, exhibitions and large events. Whilst in Liverpool the Event Complex which opened back in 2008 has generated £1.8 billion for their local economy. And it's worth highlighting that these proposals are being completely privately funded, creating no risk for tax-payers. 

Bristol and the SW has waited for an arena for so many years. We believe that now it is time to grasp this opportunity and give the city and the region a big stage - and an arena complex it can be proud of while ensuring that connectivity and sustainability are top priorities. 

On behalf of our members we will therefore be strongly encouraging the Bristol City Council planning committee to give it the go ahead at their meeting today.

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