Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff could be demolished in ‘canal quarter’ development plans
Alex Seabrook, local democracy reporter
Cardiff’s Motorpoint Arena could be demolished as part of major plans to create a ‘canal quarter’ in the city centre.
Cardiff council is discussing with Live Nation, the leaseholders of the Motorpoint, about the arena’s future, which could see the building knocked down and the land redeveloped.
Live Nation will run the new arena planned for Cardiff Bay which is set to be twice the size of the Motorpoint.
If the new arena goes ahead, Cardiff council said Live Nation “will have to consider the future use of the Motorpoint”.
The canal quarter plans could see the entire area around Churchill Way radically change in the next few years. A masterplan for the area will likely be approved by the cabinet next Thursday.
A canal underneath Churchill Way, called the Bute dock feeder, would be reopened. Initially the canal will be opened along the top half of the street, but the plan is to eventually open it all the way down to Tyndall Street.
The first phase of the plans also includes an amphitheatre for outdoor performances and benches along the reopened canal.
Councillor Russell Goodway, cabinet member for investment and development, said: “We can’t get away from the fact that the pandemic has hit our city centres hard. Many jobs have been lost across the retail and hospitality sector already.
“This is why we have to seize every opportunity we have to safeguard people’s livelihoods. We have an opportunity to work with private-sector partners to create a new district, which will not only improve this part of the city, but also deliver vital jobs for people who live here.
“The canal quarter could become a successful, high-density, mixed use development, attracting homes, hotels, hospitality, high-quality offices, leisure and retail units.”
Discussions between the council and landowners in the area are already taking place. The council is comparing the project to building St David’s Centre and Central Square.
Demolishing the Motorpoint could form part of the canal quarter plans, as the council owns the land but is considering whether to keep the arena, repurpose the building, or demolish it and redevelop the site.
The Motorpoint, also known as Cardiff International Arena, has a standing capacity of 7,500 people. It was first opened in 1993 by Shirley Bassey. The planned arena at the Bay would have double the capacity at 15,000, and is due to open in 2024.
Work on Churchill Way could start this summer, and would see the northern half of the road closed off between Queen Street and Bridge Street. That stretch is currently often used by taxis and buses. The taxi rank would move further south down the street.
Walking, cycling and bus routes would be improved in the wider canal quarter area. The plans also include improving the linking up of lanes around the area, including Bridge Street, David Street, Charles Street, Tredegar Street, Guildford Crescent and Barrack Lane.
Cllr Goodway said: “This will require significant investment and will need to be funded in part through private sector contributions and investment. We can’t do it alone. We will need to work with private-sector partners to realise the plan.
“Just as we did when we brought forward the St David’s Centre on the Hayes, enabled the Millennium Stadium to stay in the city centre and made Central Square a reality.
“We are confident the opening up of the canals and the proper use and integration of the many tight knit streets and lanes in the area will see the canal quarter develop a really distinct personality in the city centre, somewhere people will want to visit and spend time in.
“The canal quarter area is made up of numerous landowners and interests and therefore the council will necessarily have a significant leadership role in bringing together a co-ordinated development strategy for the benefit of the city as a whole.
“We want to hear the public’s opinion on the masterplan. The public’s view will help shape our conversations with landowners and stakeholders. Initial talks have already taken place, but it’s important now that we look to firm up interest in the masterplan.”