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Bradford Odeon View from City Park

View from City Park. Design and illustration by Tim Ronalds Architects

Bradford Live has announced that NEC Group International (NECGI), part of Birmingham’s NEC Group, has been chosen as the operating partner for the Bradford Odeon.

The news follows on from a £15m restoration project to redevelop the former Odeon cinema as a 4,000 capacity music venue. The city council awarded Bradford Live the restoration project in 2014.

NECGI will take a 30-year lease on the building and invest £2m towards the conversion costs. The transformed Odeon is expected to open in 2020.

Lee Craven, director of Bradford Live, commented: “Bradford Live is delighted to announce NEC Group International as our operator partner for the Odeon. They bring a wealth of experience and resource and the work they did to win the bid was hugely impressive. They understand the building thoroughly and what its transformation will mean for the City.

“The 30-year commitment NEC has made allows Bradford Live to unlock a majority of the funding needed to restore the building and we are now working closely with the council to ensure the full funding package is secured.

“Bradford Live looks forward to partnering with NEC Group and Bradford Council to ensure that Bradford will soon have one of the very best live music/event venues in the UK.”

The NEC Group has said it has “exciting plans” to use the building to its full potential, bringing live music, comedy, Bollywood shows, and other live performances. The venue operator also revealed it hopes to turn Bradford Odeon into “the biggest ‘mid-size’ venue in the country outside London and putting Bradford firmly back on the national live music touring circuit”.

Positive feedback

The plan to re-open the building as a music venue has been welcomed by some of the country’s top bands.

The Kaiser Chiefs said: “We’ve played a lot of great old theatre venues. Beautiful old buildings are perfect for rock ‘n’ roll shows – it can make a real difference performing in these characterful rooms compared to plain black box type venues.

“The Bradford Odeon would make a brilliant venue for the north, especially as there isn’t a room of that size in either Leeds or Bradford. It’d be a regular on the touring circuit.”

Francis Rossi, of Status Quo, said: “What the country needs is more places that can host concerts, so that people can get out and hear great live music. We’ve toured up and down the country more than most and we know that places like this are essential. The Bradford Odeon has a great history and should be brought back into service.”

Bradford Live, view of the Auditorium

Bradford Live, view of the auditorium. Design and Illustration by Tim Ronalds Architects

As well as the main auditorium, the 1930 art deco ballroom will be fully restored to its original features to host weddings, banquets, corporate and conferencing events and other live performances.

Commenting on the project, Phil Mead, managing director, NEC Group Arenas, said: “Bradford Odeon, once restored, will breathe new life into an historic building which has played a pivotal role in the city’s past.

“The redeveloped venue, as part of the ongoing regeneration of Bradford city centre anchored around City Park, will deliver jobs and investment and transform the live event and entertainment offer of the City.

“It’s a really exciting, ambitious project which provides us with an opportunity to showcase our venue management skills. We look forward to partnering with Bradford Live to bring it to life and to delivering a new venue of choice to the entertainment and events market.”