Edinburgh Arena plans: Everything we know so far about the 8,000 seat project

Plans to build a new 8,000 seat indoor arena that will allow Edinburgh to attract some of the biggest names in pop to Scotland have been revealed.

Monday, 2nd December 2019, 5:00 pm
Updated Monday, 2nd December 2019, 6:33 pm

The project is being spearheaded by Lothian Leisure Development Ltd, a UK based entertainment, leisure and sports venue consultancy, in partnership with the Birmingham based NEC Group.

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New 8,000 seat Edinburgh indoor arena planned for Straiton site

Here is everything we know so far about the project...

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How the Edinburgh Arena might look by night.

What would it be like?

The Edinburgh Arena would boast an impressive 8,000 seats and help attract some of the biggest names in music.

The development will see a proposed 30-acre site at Straiton, on the outskirts of the city, transformed into a mixed-use leisure and entertainment destination comprising the arena which will be complimented by conference and exhibition centre, retail and leisure space, a cinema and two hotels.

The NEC Group already operates two indoor arenas in Birmingham and it is believed talks are on going to bring the Hilton and Radisson Hotel groups and other premium brands into the development.

An artist's impression of how the Edinburgh Arena would look by day.

When might it open?

The Edinburgh Arena development could be completed by the end of 2023 or beginning of 2024.

Which artists might come to Edinburgh?

Musicians who have played Glasgow's SSE Hydro, which has a seating capacity of 13,000, include: Adele, Taylor Swift, Rod Stewart, The 1975, Queen and Adam Lambert, The Vamps.

Chemical Brothers, The Script and Mumford & Sons have also played at the SECC in Glasgow while Liverpool Echo Arena (11,000 seating) has attracted the likes of Liam Gallagher and George Ezra.

Investment and Jobs

The proposed Edinburgh Arena project, reported to cost in the region of £40 million, is expected to create more than 600 new jobs for the area and provide a significant tourism boost for the area.


The Arena is the brainchild of Lothian Leisure Development chairman, Tom Ponton, who says: "When I was young, back in the 50s, Edinburgh had the Waverley Market where they held the Ideal Home Exhibition, the Funfair evert every Christmas and the Scottish Motor Show, we are now at 2019 and Edinburgh does not have such a facility in the city for such events. As the chairman of a new Scottish company determined to deliver the best arena in Scotland and the only one not subsidised by the public purse."

Ponton, who was born and brought up on the Royal Mile and served 23 years in local government in the Capital, is joined on the board of Lothian Leisure Development by Nick Brown, formerly of international architects AHR Global and Dave Fowler, who has 25 years in the music and entertainment industry working for the likes of Walt Disney, Sky, Universal and Ministry of Sound among others.

'Pipeline' to world's greatest talent

Announcing the venture, Dave Fowler, business development director at Lothian Leisure Development, said: “These exciting proposals showcase the modern, indoor arena that Edinburgh deserves, and with operating partner NEC on board the capital is assured a pipeline of the world’s greatest entertainment talent.

"We also look forward to applying many of the other aspects of the hugely successful NEC Campus to Edinburgh in due course.

"We see this as a revolution in entertainment provision for one of the world’s most cultural Capitals - and one which will benefit all sections of the community."

Phil Mead, Arenas and Ticket Factory chairman at NEC Group, said: “We host over 700 events per year in the Birmingham area and have always planned to take our successful events model to new cities with the backing of our majority shareholder, Blackstone.

"We are already looking forward to opening the redeveloped Bradford Live venue in 2021 and are delighted to now confirm our partnership with LLD which will hopefully see us manage our first venue in Scotland.

"Edinburgh is well known for its wonderful cultural offering but remains one of the only European capital cities without an indoor arena and so we’re excited by the thought of being able to bring some big names in entertainment to the region.”

Operators hope the venue which will be seen as a much-needed addition to the Capital and complement Edinburgh’s current cultural and entertainment venues while providing a significant tourism boost for the area.

The plans have received a positive response from Edinburgh-based music promoter Mark Mackie of Regular Music.

Mackie, who also promotes the annual Castle Concert series at Edinburgh Castle, says, “A venue offering audience capacities between 5,000 to 8,000 will dovetail nicely with the existing facilities in Edinburgh and Glasgow.

"We eagerly await the opening when we look forward to presenting a varied range of artists.”

Ongoing talks

Lothian Leisure Development is currently in discussion with several parties to secure funding for the development phase of the project.

Over the coming months LLD and the NEC Group will be working closely to progress the proposals to full scheme design stage and to carry out a series of public consultations.