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Coventry City's Arena Statement

The full text of the statement issued today by project director Stuart Guest:

The problems of balancing architectural dreams with the reality of building costs, commercial returns and funding are well known.

The Millennium Dome and the proposed new Wembley Stadium are two recent examples of how large and complex building projects can spiral out of control without firm and realistic planning and project management.

Arena 2001 is a complex and very expensive project - it is unique in Britain and we need to get it right before we can safely start on the building work.

Because the arena is unique we must be able to agree with the builders a maximum fixed price contract for the Arena.

It is likely that the project will cost in excess of £172m, of which £60m is for the Arena, and we cannot afford to get either the design or the technical aspects of the Arena wrong, or to have any increase in costs when the building work commences which we then cannot afford to meet.

Therefore there is a great deal of technical work that has been happening and will need to be concluded over the coming months to enable Arena 2001 Limited to sign up to a contract which will deliver what we want and what we can afford.

Such an important exercise is of course time consuming and this is particularly frustrating when set against the great enthusiasm that exists in Coventry for the project to be built.

A great deal of time and effort has been spent on value engineering and the inevitable redesign work that always goes hand in hand with such an exercise, but we can now safely say that we have an Arena design that not only satisfies our dreams, including retractable roof and sliding pitch, but is affordable and buildable.

The involvement of The NEC Group is very important to the Arena project.

There are, and will continue to be, significant detailed discussions with The NEC Group about their overall involvement and management of the Arena, recognising that football is only part of the overall business of the new development.

As a result of the very positive engagement with The NEC Group, the Arena plans have in part been redesigned to incorporate The NEC Groupís requirements in terms of conferencing, banqueting, exhibitions, concerts and large scale entertainment usage, as well as a variety of bars and fast food outlets to cater for the year round use of the Arena as a multi use venue for a whole range of sporting events in addition to football.

The NEC Group have introduced a number of new facilities, including conference and banqueting facilities that will seat in excess of 1,000 people, which has been provided without in any way compromising the key aspects of the original Arena design Ė the retractable roof and playing surface.

The NEC Group involvement is actually creating a bigger and more business focused development.

The NEC Group are totally committed to working with the Arena to form an effective and profitable partnership.  Barry Claverdon, Chief Executive of The NEC Group said today:

"We are delighted to be working very closely with the Arena 2000 team to ensure that our extensive venue management experience helps to develop and operate a sports and business facility that will become a venue of national importance."

Like all projects of this size and specialist nature, we have over the last 12 months suffered the frustration and irritation of planning objections to parts of our development and the unavoidable long, drawn out negotiations over land assembly.

Clearly in any scheme of this complexity the necessity of securing all land at a price that can be afforded is key.

This work is still ongoing and we hope to resolve it in the near future.

The City Council have made it clear that if the project is fundamentally challenged with difficulties in acquiring the land needed, then they will pursue compulsory purchase powers.

It is clear that there is a commitment of all key parties in this project to make it happen, but it is a complex, unique and expensive project and everybody that needs to sign up to it has to be assured that they are comfortable that all key aspects of financing, land, legal, etc. issues have been dealt with.

We therefore are now working to what we all believe is a realistic timetable and that timetable with include:

Refinement of the design and the costings of the Arena and all onsite and offsite infrastructure.

Concluding all necessary agreements on financing  land acquisitions costs, etc.

Moving the Hodgkins Family to their new home - work on the new home site is scheduled to commence in January 2001.

Blow up the remaining gas holder, scheduled May 2001 when the Hodgkins Family has moved.

The significant work of decontamination/reclamation works on site that need to be completed before any building work can start.

Clarifying and agreeing the contract period and the maximum fixed price cost of the contract.

All parties agreeing to a target date for commencement and completion - our aim is to commence work on site next summer and complete the Arena in time for the kick-off of the 2003-04 football season.

Almost £10m has already been spent on major enabling works at the old gas works site at Foleshill which has included building a new pressure reduction station, re-laying around the perimeter of the site a number of large diameter, high pressure gas mains and the demolition of 4 gas holders.

We know how important this project is to Coventry people, but also it is a project of regional, national and international significance. We cannot afford to get it wrong and we must ensure that all those key parties to the deal (the Football Club, The NEC Group, Tesco, the builders of the project, the Government, through the regional development agency, the City Council, etc) are all signed up to deliver what is a very complex project.

With all the other important developments going on in the north of Coventry, the Arena in the Heart of England project must be successful - we cannot afford to get it wrong.  The financial and regeneration implications are too important.

What we are doing in Coventry is unique and will significantly change the image of Coventry and the West Midlands for the future. Be assured that there is an enormous energy and activity going on to drive the project forward.

We know what needs to be done and we are doing it.

SEE [15 DEC 00] SKY BLUES 'ARENA 2003' TO COST £172m
SEE [15 DEC 00]

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CWN / Sport / Football / Coventry City FC / 15 Dec 00
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