Comment: City needs to grasp this opportunity

The Ross Bandstand has seen better days. File picture: Julie Bull
The Ross Bandstand has seen better days. File picture: Julie Bull
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IT can be generally agreed that the Ross Bandstand in Princes Street Gardens has had its day. It was a good enough building of its time but now, 80 years on, it falls very short of what is needed in a 21st century music venue.

So the first question to be asked is should it be replaced, or should the Gardens be more of a centre of tranquillity and concentrate on the botanical rather than the musical?

Opinion will be divided but outdoor concerts do provide a wonderful feeling of vibrancy and modernity in a city centre, and are bound to attract more people to the city centre than just a park. They create an atmosphere.

And the park also has the magnificent backdrop of the Castle, and it would be a shame to lose such a dramatic performance setting.

A new outdoor arena there would also be an attraction to performers who might otherwise not come to the city and would be a big boost to the entertainment industry – it is a great addition to the festivals. It would also maintain great city traditions of the Hogmanay and fireworks concerts.

So hats off to Apex Hotels founder Norman Springford who has offered to bankroll the project, without him any transformation was unlikely to happen.

There are a number of legal hurdles to be overcome, but as long as it can be said to be in the common good and can reasonably be taken into the description of an (albeit modern version) of a bandstand, all should be good.

Of course, the key will lie in the detail of exactly what it would look like and how access would have to change to allow a modern facility in terms of cabling and set delivery. There will be obvious conditions to be met to ensure it is fitting for that unique location.

But the fact is that in the current financial climate, without a backer this would not be possible, and who knows when in the future that might change. Now we have the opportunity so that opportunity should be grasped with two hands and many thanks.