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Focus on: NewcastleGateshead

By August 16, 2017Features

The quayside in NewcastleGateshead has been buoyed by the announcement of new plans to create a contemporary arena, conference and exhibition centre.

It has recently been announced by Gateshead Council that a new multimillion pound, state-of-the-art entertainment arena, and conference and exhibition centre is set for the North East.

The 10 acre site which sits directly opposite the Gateshead Millennium Bridge and between the area’s most iconic buildings, Sage Gateshead and BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art is planned to include an entertainment arena, conference and exhibition centre, hotel, bars and restaurants, creating a vibrant new destination on the waterfront with easy access to the Quays, Gateshead town centre and the wider region.

The new facilities on Gateshead Quays which will be capable of holding major music and cultural events, as well as conferences and exhibitions, is anticipated to attract an extra 296,000 visitors to the region with an estimated boost of over £29.5 million annually to the regional economy in future years.

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Photo: Richard Kenworthy

Photo: Richard Kenworthy

NewcastleGateshead’s conference and events industry is a major contributor to the local visitor economy, which is currently worth £1.9 billion. NewcastleGateshead Convention Bureau, based at NewcastleGateshead Initiative, markets the area to national and international conference and event organisers, attracting a high proportion of high-spending business visitors. Paul Szomoru, Head of Business Tourism at NewcastleGateshead Convention Bureau said: “We’ve long been considered a leading UK destination for hosting conferences and events, with an enviable history of successfully hosting major events, including the spring conferences of the three largest English political parties, UNICEF’s baby friendly initiative and NUS national conferences. Additionally in 2018 we are hosting a number of international conferences, such as the European Thyroid Association 2018 and Explore GB, which will see delegates from across the globe descend on NewcastleGateshead to learn more about the whole of Britain as a destination for both business and leisure visits.”

Paul continues: “While we consistently punch above our weight as a destination, what we have always needed to enable us to attract the biggest major international conventions is a large flat floor space capable of holding exhibitions and dinners for over 1,000 people, with suitable break-out space for events for over 1,000 people. We’ve always had the ambition and the strength of voice, and the announcement of plans to develop a dedicated conference and events space on Gateshead Quays will help us fulfil our ambitions to cement NewcastleGateshead’s place on the international map.”

Martin Gannon, Gateshead Council Leader, said: “Not only will it bring new life to the area but it will bring new jobs and significantly boost the local and regional economy. An arena and conference and exhibition facility will also play an important role in complementing and strengthening demand for national and international conferences, exhibitions and events at Sage Gateshead and BALTIC, as well as acting as a catalyst for wider investment across Gateshead and further stimulating economic growth.

“We’re now more confident than ever that we can finally push forward with our exciting plans for this £200 million development site. Working closely with our development partners, SMG Europe, local partners and the private sector, it really is time to give the North East another landmark destination and complete the picture of this truly unique, riverside site.”

SMG Europe, which currently operates the Metro Radio Arena, is an industry leader with in excess of 220 venues worldwide. John Sharkey, Executive Vice President European Operations of SMG, said: “We’ve for some time been looking at increasing our presence in the North East. The Gateshead Quays development site is truly a unique location which will offer visitors a whole new experience. Our new entertainment, conferencing and exhibition facilities, standing shoulder to shoulder with Sage Gateshead and BALTIC, will we firmly believe, further cement Gateshead Quays as a popular and stunning world class cultural destination, while bringing significant benefits for the whole region as well as Newcastle and Gateshead.”

It is anticipated that the new, state-of-the-art 12,500-seat arena, conference and exhibition space could transform the region’s business tourist economy. It’s widely acknowledged that there is a massive untapped demand to bring large scale events, conferences and exhibitions to the region and a combined leisure and entertainment development would help meet customer expectations.

Gateshead quays artist impression

The new facilities are being developed closely by Gateshead Council alongside key strategic partners to ensure they meet the needs of the region. Abigail Pogson, Managing Director at Sage Gateshead, said: “These new facilities will be a tremendous boost to Sage Gateshead, building on our international reputation and success in music and hosting major conferences. It will be a fantastic addition to the Quayside and the region and will help further transform the south bank of the Tyne.”

Andrew Hodgson, Chair of the North East Local Enterprise Partnership remarked: “These new and exciting facilities would help the North East attract many more major exhibitions, conferences and cultural events helping to boost the regional visitor economy and create hundreds of new jobs all of which supports the growth ambitions set out in the North East Strategic Economic Plan and the vision of Gateshead Council to establish Gateshead Quays as a first class destination.”

Next steps for the development site are for a detailed scheme design to be drawn up ahead of pre-planning and pre-construction phases.

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