Work starts on centrepiece Commonwealth Convention Centre ahead of 2022 Games
The major refurbishment project will see the creation of a multimillion pound state of the art convention centre at Coventry's Ricoh Arena. Work has begun on transforming the lower halls of the venue, currently housing 1,750 sq m of conference and exhibition space, into the new Commonwealth Convention Centre.
The building will be known as the Coventry Building Society Arena as of this summer and will form a centrepiece of the 2022 Commonwealth Games. Coventry has just raised the curtain on a year of events to celebrate its status as City of Culture for 2021.
The creation of the new 1,847sq metre convention centre will see the existing building undergo a dramatic transformation. This will deliver cutting edge audio-visual and digital technology, plus the creation of an art and gallery space to benefit the local community.
The three month project will be a complete overhaul that creates a modern, flexible and market-leading facility. The modernisation project will also seamlessly connect up to 7,750 square metres of conference and exhibition space, further cementing Coverntry's reputation as market leader in the conference sector.
Funding for the project, which will also include the south side pavilion entrance and the creation of the Commonwealth Convention Centre lobby, is in the form of a £3.8m grant from the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP), via the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA). This forms part of the Government's Getting Building Fund.
The Local Growth Fund and Growing Places Fund has made a further £1.4m available for the Ricoh Arena refurbishment. The 6,000 sq m indoor arena will undergo a state of the art cosmetic refurbishment as it prepares to host the juso and wrestling at the Commonwealth Games. Additional food and beverage offerings are being introduced in the Atrium.
Leading international venue
Stephen Vaughan, Wasps Group Chief Executive, who are behind the refurbishment scheme, said the Ricoh Arena has forged an enviable reputation over the last 15 years, attracting around 1.5m visitors a year on average. He said the refurbishment would lay a solid foundation for future growth based on innovations like the Vodafone Business Lounge which allows businesses to experience emerging technologies including Internet of Things, 5G and full fibre broadband. The proposed investment would underline the lasting legacy of the Commonwealth Games.
Vaughan said the city could look forward to an exciting 18 months including the return of Coventry City football club, World Cub rugby games and the Commonwealth Games itself, all while enjoying its status as City of Culture. All will help to showcase the Ricoh Arena as one of the UK's foremost multievent venues.
Sarah Windrum, Chair of the CWLEP, added that the plans would create a modern and highly flexible venue for the conference and exhibition industry. She agreed that the series of showcase events would attract delegates and event organisers from across the UK to the area. That in turn would boost the local economy, one of the critical focal points of the CWLEP's Strategic Reset Framework.
Coventry City of Culture events begin June 5, with the Commonwealth Games due to start in Birmingham in July 2022.
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