The Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) agreed to support Bristol’s Arena from its City Deal Economic Development Fund (EDF) at a meeting of its Board today (6 February). A report presented to the Board suggests that the Bristol Arena could bring tens of millions of pounds of economic benefit to the Bristol region each year.

The Economic Development Fund (EDF) is a fund retained from business rate growth from Enterprise Zones over 25 years that is available for Local Authorities to borrow against. The West of England Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) manages the EDF on behalf of the sub-region and its four partner authorities.

George Ferguson Mayor of Bristol said: “It’s very encouraging that the Local Enterprise Partnership recognises the importance of using the City Deal funding for the development of an arena which will give a massive boost to the local economy. The City Deal gives cities the flexibility to use Enterprise Zone business rates to invest in important infrastructure projects and the arena is an essential catalyst for the regeneration of the Bristol Temple Quarter Enterprise Zone. In other cities arenas have been proven to deliver significant benefits to both cities and regions, bringing additional spend and underpinning the national and international reputation of the area.”

Colin Skellett, Chair of the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership said: “The economic benefits to the region from having an arena are well recognised. The Economic Development Fund is there to unlock jobs and growth in the West of England, and the Bristol Arena is one of several projects that will do this.”

The arena is estimated to cost £91 million to build. £53 million will come from the Local Enterprise Partnership and the remaining £38 million is expected to come back to the council from operator rental and other related income. The full funding package was approved by Cabinet on 16th January and will go to Full Council on 18 February as part of the council’s budget proposals. If approved at Full Council then work will begin in the Spring to appoint an operator.