Leeds gets ready to rock with The Boss at first direct arena’s big opening

Excitement is building and work is going on round the clock behind the scenes as Leeds prepares for this week’s opening by US rock superstar Bruce Springsteen of its £60m arena.

When the rock legend takes to the stage of the first direct arena on Clay Pit Lane on Wednesday (July 24) it will be a landmark moment for the city, as for many years Leeds has felt the need for an arena in a city of its size.

Leeds City Council acknowledged this and committed to ensure one was developed. The hugely-successful council project has resulted in the eye-catching building being completed on time and on-budget ready to welcome world-class acts to the city.

And as the Bruce Springsteen roadshow prepares to roll into town, Leeds is pulling out all the stops to make sure it is ready to receive him and his legions of fans.

Teams of special volunteer city ambassadors will be greeting people arriving at railway and bus stations and other key access points to the city to help direct them to car parks and to the gleaming new arena itself. They will also help with queries about where to eat, how to find taxis and cash machines and other questions about spending time in the city centre.

Bands of buskers will be creating a carnival atmosphere for gig-goers as they make their way through the city. A variety of musicians ranging from a gypsy jazz guitarist to boogie woogie band Alex Graham and the Concords will be performing in events spaces such as City Square, Victoria Gardens and Dortmund Square.

Special street food trading permits have been issued by the council to allow high-quality food outlets on pitches near to the arena- including an American yellow school bus transformed into a diner, a beach hut selling fish and chips and gourmet burger and curry wrap stalls.

City centre cleansing teams, which already operate around the clock, will have extra staff on duty and are putting in more litter bins and increasing focus on the roads around the main arena site.

Taxi marshals will help point people to available ranks and Merrion Way will be closed from 10pm to allow the car park in the Merrion Centre- one of two official arena car parks along with Woodhouse Lane- to empty as efficiently as possible.

Visitors can choose whether to park close to the arena in the two official multi-storey car parks, or a little bit further away to take leaving queues into account.

There are a total of 7,721 parking spaces within a 15 minute walk of the arena- 2,880 of these just five minutes away. Those arriving by public transport are advised to double-check all available routes and times.

Councillor Keith Wakefield, leader of Leeds City Council, said:“To welcome Bruce Springsteen to Leeds for our arena’s opening night is incredibly exciting and we intend to do the city proud. Visitors will find we have pulled out all the stops, along with our partners at SMG Europe, to make it an unforgettable, amazing experience.

“It has been no mean feat at a time of extended downturn in the economy that Leeds City Council and construction company BAM managed to complete the high-tech arena on time and on budget. SMG Europe are establishing it as a key venue for national and international artists and it has already been highlighted by US magazine Billboard as the one to watch for this year.

“In a year of high-profile highlights such as the opening of Trinity Leeds and news that we will host the start of Grand Départ of the Tour de France 2014 this is one of our greatest achievements as we finally unveil our world-class new arena.”

Further information on getting to the city and for a map of where to park can be found on the council’s website here: travelling to the first direct arena

More information is also available on the arena’s own website at www.firstdirectarena.com

To see Cllr Wakefield talk about his hopes for the arena and what it means for Leeds go to

Notes to editorsThe first direct arena’s events calendar is rapidly filling for the months following the sold-out Bruce Springsteen show. This will be spearheaded by an opening showcase fortnight headed by Elton John on September 4 and featuring classical superstar Andrea Bocelli, comedian Micky Flanagan and local heroes Kaiser Chiefs.

SMG Europe is the largest operator of sports and entertainment venues in Europe, such as the Manchester Evening News Arena and the city’s Bridgewater Hall, the Odyssey Arena in Belfast and Oslo Spektrum. They are responsible for running the first direct arena, with Leeds City Council acting as landlords as the building’s owners.

For media enquiries please contact:
Donna Cox, Communications Manager, Press & Media Relations
Leeds City Council press office (0113) 224 3335
e-mail: donna.cox@leeds.gov.uk