Multi-million-pound proposals to transform a major part of the Ricoh Arena ahead of the Commonwealth Games are gathering pace.
Wasps Group has submitted a planning application to Coventry City Council to develop a new pavilion entrance at the south side of the venue, along with a state-of-the-art Commonwealth Convention Centre in the venue’s existing lower halls.
The new south pavilion – complete with reception pods and digital signage – would provide seamless access between Ricoh Arena’s Commonwealth Convention Centre and the rest of the venue, which, between them, boast more than 8,000 square metres of indoor conference and exhibition event space.
The creation of a 1,847 square metre Commonwealth Convention Centre for conferences and exhibitions would see the venue’s existing lower halls undergo a major transformation to deliver cutting-edge digital and audio visual technology, as well as the opening of a dedicated art and gallery space to bring the community together for gatherings and to showcase local projects.
The existing 6,000 square metre indoor arena will also undergo state-of-the-art cosmetic refurbishments in preparations for hosting judo and wrestling at the Commonwealth Games, while additional food and beverage offerings are also being introduced in the venue atrium.
If the plans are approved, it is hoped that the new south pavilion and Commonwealth Convention Centre will open early next year.
Around £3.8 million has been made available to the venue via the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP), which successfully secured the investment from £66 million worth of Government funding that was provided to the West Midlands Combined Authority as part of the Government’s Getting Building Fund.
An additional £1.4 million has also been made available to Ricoh Arena via CWLEP from the Local Growth Fund and Growing Places Fund.
Stephen Vaughan, Wasps Group Chief Executive, said: “Ricoh Arena has forged an enviable reputation as a leading international venue for a variety of events over the past 15 years – attracting more than one and a half million visitors a year on average – and these changes to the venue will enable us to lay solid foundations and grow even further in the years to come, whilst developing the look and feel of the whole venue.
“We are at the sharp end of innovation – clearly demonstrated by the Vodafone Business Lounge, an innovation space designed for businesses in the West Midlands to experience the latest emerging technologies including 5G, the Internet of Things (IoT) and high-speed fibre – and this proposed investment for the new pavilion and Commonwealth Convention Centre underlines how the Commonwealth Games can leave a lasting legacy for the venue and surrounding area for many years to come.
“We have an exciting 18 months ahead of us, starting with the opening of a state-of-the-art sports bar and the return of Coventry City, followed by hosting a Rugby League World Cup match this October before the Commonwealth Games next summer – all while supporting Coventry’s year as UK City of Culture.
“The eyes of the world will be on us next summer – both from international visitors and those watching on TV – and we are looking forward to showing them why Ricoh Arena is one of the leading multipurpose venues in the UK.”
Sarah Windrum, Chair of the CWLEP, added: “It is great that the plans have now been submitted for approval to create the new pavilion entrance and Commonwealth Convention Centre which will provide a flexible and modern facility for the conference and exhibition industry.
“This will enable the venue to continue to attract event organisers and delegates from across the UK to the area which, in turn, will boost the economy which is one of the focal points of the CWLEP’s Strategic Reset Framework.”