With the doors now open at Trinity Quarter, all eyes are now on therecently named First Direct Arena, which is set to open this summer as part of a hugely exciting year for Leeds.
The Arena is already a major landmark for the city and as you head towards it from any direction its multi-coloured skin of aluminium panels complete with hexagonal windows certainly make it stand out from the crowd.
When you see it at night, it’s a different story again. Using a combination of illuminated tracery, throbbing back-lit mesh and spotlights shining through the windows, the building can change colour or pattern depending on the arena’s show or mood!
Such a mesmerising building is already driving other regeneration and investment projects in the area with the likes of Hilton Hotels recently announcing plans to build a £32m five star hotel nearby.
The Arena also benefits from an innovative design style that uses a staggered fan shape, rather than the conventional horse shoe seating arrangement that you find in most venues. This means it offers perfect views from every one of its 12,500 seats and nobody will be more than 68 metres from the stage, which compares to about 100 metres in lots of other arenas. This ‘super-theatre’ layout will be the blue-print for new arena around the world.
With these credentials it’s no surprise that American Billboard magazine says it’s the most exciting venue to open in the world this year and it will definitely be part of the reason why Bruce Springsteen made a ‘special request’ to try out the arena in a one-off show as part of his Wrecking Ball world tour. This kind of publicity is great for Leeds and is raising the city’s profile internationally.
With the likes of Elton John and a whole host of other world class acts set to follow in The Bos’s footsteps, the hotels, restaurants and bars of Leeds could soon be rolling out the red carpets, which raises another question – where will ‘The Boss’ go for dinner and where will he stay? With the new Hilton not opening until 2015, will he opt for the city’s bright lights or go for a haven or tranquillity in the Yorkshire countryside?
Whatever he decides at least Leeds will finally have a venue it has lacked since 1989 when the much loved Queen’s Hall was demolished.