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Investment proposed in ‘Eurovision’ arena

Liverpool City Council is set to invest a total of £11 million in the Arena and Convention Centre (ACC Liverpool) at Kings Dock, to ensure it can continue to attract top events and conferences.

The complex, which hosted the most successful Eurovision Song Contest ever last May, has welcomed more than 8.3 million visitors and generated £2.1bn in economic impact for the city region since it opened in 2008.

The funding is for a mix of ‘lifecycle’ works to replace items that are worn out (£3.1 million), combined with repairs, upgrading of services, new roofing (£7.5 million), plus additional costs and fees.

The works include upgrades to the power supply, air conditioning, heating, sound proofing, drainage, paving, the roof membrane, escalators and lifts, fire detection systems and the replacements of doors and CCTV.

The scheme was approved at a Cabinet meeting in 2021 and a lot of the work has since been carried out. However, the original estimate was based on figures from 2019 and since then there have been substantial rises due to increases in the cost of materials, labour costs and inflation, meaning additional funds are needed to complete the programme.

The Cabinet will be asked at its meeting on Friday 1 February to approve a revised budget of almost £11.2 million, which is an additional £5.4 million compared to the £5.7 million approved in 2021.

The Council is responsible for the cost of the work because it was part of the original management agreement from 2008.

Under a new lease, agreed last year, responsibility for the cost of repairs and maintenance has transferred to The ACC Liverpool Group.

Councillor Nick Small, Cabinet Member for Growth and Economy said:

“The Arena, Convention and Exhibition Centre have provided an incredible boost for the city and the complex is a major success story for Liverpool.

“We want to build on the momentum of its success, including hosting Eurovision, which is why this work is so vitally important for not just ACC Liverpool, but our wider visitor economy.

“We are funding the cost of these works, which fall under the original lease arrangements, to ensure ACC Liverpool can continue to deliver top-quality events and conferences.

“As part of our improvement journey, we are determined to get the best value from our assets and property, and minimise the risk to Council Tax payers. The new lease arrangement provides a stable and secure basis on which to enhance the delivery of events at the waterfront site and supports our strategic growth plans for the city.”

Under the terms of the new lease:

  • A repayment plan for outstanding rent largely due to the Covid-19 pandemic has been agreed. The amount owed has already reduced from £7.1m to £2.3m.
  • The Council no longer has to make good any losses made by the company, will receive enhanced full commercial rent for the complex and will also benefit from a profit share after the outstanding rent has been repaid.
  • Responsibility for the cost of repairs and maintenance of the complex has been transferred to The ACC Liverpool Group.
  • The Council is to provide a loan as part of its capital programme to refurbish the Pullman Hotel in 2025/26, which will be repaid after the rent arrears have been cleared.