Bristol’s long-awaited arena has taken another step forward with Bristol City Council’s cabinet approving project development costs of £250,000 at their meeting at the end of May.

This money will finance the development of the business case through the summer and enable the arena project team to prepare for bringing in an operator.

An initial feasibility study has already shown Bristol is well placed to have an arena, with a good catchment area and demographics. An arena is a key catalyst for the Enterprise Zone, creating jobs and generating economic growth.

The proposal is for a 12,000 capacity arena, to be sited on the former diesel depot site adjacent to Temple Meads Railway Station. The project needs further work to determine its viability, the size and configuration, the car parking strategy, and what type of arena the city needs and could support.

Once an operator has been selected by early 2014, a competition will then be launched for a design team to design the building. The operator will be able to input into the design brief for the competition and also help the successful team develop the design.

Bristol Mayor, George Ferguson, is also keen to hear from people their views on what they would like to see from an arena. Plans are being worked up on how best to do this.

The arena is estimated to be an £80m project and the city council is currently exploring how to fund it. Amongst the options being considered are to prudentially borrow against the retained business rate growth as part of the City Deal and a bid of £45m to the Regional Growth Fund Round 4, which would take the form of a grant. A decision on this grant is expected in the summer.

Current timings for the arena could see it being ready by the end of 2016.