The Bristol Arena has moved a significant step closer with the announcement that the UK’s largest arena operator SMG, in partnership with largest international live entertainment company Live Nation, have been named as Preferred Bidder to operate the Bristol Arena.

The decision was taken at a Cabinet meeting when Mayor George Ferguson told Cabinet Members that he believed that it represented a fundamental milestone in the development of the new arena.

He added:

“Interest from bidders in operating the 12,000 capacity Bristol Arena has been highly competitive. SMG and Live Nation will bring the combined expertise of two global businesses experienced in running arenas worldwide and delivering exciting programmes of concerts and events. Their bid represents a good deal for the city and gives yet further confidence of a firm footing on which to move forward towards a 2017 arena opening when we can look forward to welcoming world-class performers to the region.”

SMG President & CEO Wes Westley said:

“Both SMG and Live Nation are delighted to be named the preferred bidder for Bristol Arena. We think the Arena will be a fantastic venue for future entertainment and community events. This unique partnering of global giants Live Nation and SMG will ensure that the Arena is operated at a world class level with top events for Bristolians and the South West. We look forward to establishing long term relationships with the council, stakeholders and the community creating exciting times ahead.”

Paul Latham, Chief Operating Officer for Live Nation Entertainment said:

“With our shared vision and combined expertise of managing multiple venues and arenas across the world, we are confident that together we will provide the very best operational structure and live entertainment experience and contribute significantly to the city’s economic growth and profile to create a must play destination on the touring circuit.”

Once negotiations reach final close the operator will be contracted to programme the venue, input into its design, and maintain and manage the Arena for the duration of the 25 year lease which is being awarded.

The news follows the announcement last month of the shortlisted design teams for the arena following a Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) design competition.

The shortlisted teams of great architects and engineers are; Grimshaw -architects of the Eden Project, Idom Ingeneria y Consultoria – designers of the Bilbao Arena, Populous -architects of the London Olympics Stadium, White Arkitekter – masterplanners for Kiruna, Sweden and Wilkinson Eyre – architects of the Liverpool Arena.

Proposals from each design team will be displayed in public in January.

The £90 million, 12,000 capacity arena is set to be located on the former diesel depot site next to Bristol Temple Meads railway station in the Bristol Temple Quarter Enterprise Zone. The arena is expected to bring millions of pounds of additional spend and over 900 jobs to the region.