Manchester arena operator picked for £73m Southport venue
ASM Global, which runs the 21,000-capacity AO Arena, is to sign a 25-year lease with Sefton Council to manage the Marine Lake Events Centre.
The £73m Southport complex will provide a 1,200-capacity modern theatre space, a conference and exhibition centre able to accommodate a wide range of events, and café and signature restaurant.
Plans also include a new water and light show installation on the Marine Lake, with the working title of ‘The Light Fantastic’.
It is anticipated the development could attract more than half a million visitors to Southport every year, generating £18m annually.
The council launched a procurement exercise for a venue operator in March and has now selected ASM Global as its preferred partner.
“The combination of a high quality, flexible venue and the Light Fantastic is a unique offer, in a stunning location, which will create an outstanding leisure, events and cultural destination for both residents and visitors,” said Chris Bray, ASM’s European executive vice president.
“There has already been excellent progress in securing funding, developing the initial designs and submitting the planning application, and we are excited to now join the project team and share our wealth of experience in designing, developing and relaunching venues.”
As well as the AO Arena, ASM operates another 11 venues in the UK, nine on behalf of local authorities.
The other venues the company operates include Olympia Exhibition Centre in London and the Utilita Arena Newcastle.
ASM was also recently selected to operate the new 12,500-capacity venue at Gateshead Quays, due to open in 2024 and replace the aforementioned Utilita.
At the Marine Lake Events Centre, ASM will sign a full repairing and insuring lease that features a fixed rental payment and a variable rent profit share for the venue, car park and hospitality, according to a report to Sefton’s cabinet.
The next stage of the scheme is to appoint a contractor to build the venue.
Sefton is to procure a construction firm from the Procure Partnerships North West framework by December.
A £31m chunk of Southport’s Town Deal award will provide the lion’s share of the funding for the project, while the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority will provide an additional £20m.
Sefton Council will fund the remaining £19.7m needed through borrowing and is seeking cabinet approval to do so next week.
AFL Architects has designed the scheme, building on preliminary designs from HOK. A planning application for the project was submitted in July.
“By awarding preferred bidder status to ASM Global we are once again showing our ambition, determination and passion towards delivering the incredible MLEC project,” said Cllr Marion Atkinson, Sefton Council’s cabinet member for regeneration and skills.
“We are doing everything to ensure the end goal is a fully flexible, scalable cultural space capable of staging concerts, stand-up comedy, family shows, musical theatre, conferences, and exhibitions that is the envy of other towns and cities.”