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Southport’s Marine Lake Events Centre Plans Confirmed

Written by John Nicoll

Plans for Southport’s Marine Lake Events Centre have been confirmed by Sefton Council, with ASM Global, which runs the 21,000-capacity AO Arena, signing a 25-year lease to manage the centre. 

The £73m Southport complex will provide a 1,200-capacity modern theatre space, a conference and exhibition centre able to accommodate a wide range of events, and café and signature restaurant. 

Plans also include a new water and light show installation on the Marine Lake, with the working title of ‘The Light Fantastic’. 

It is anticipated the development could attract more than half a million visitors to Southport every year, generating £18m annually. 

The council launched a procurement exercise for a venue operator in March and has now selected ASM Global as its preferred partner. 

“The combination of a high quality, flexible venue and the Light Fantastic is a unique offer, in a stunning location, which will create an outstanding leisure, events and cultural destination for both residents and visitors,” said Chris Bray, ASM’s European executive vice president.

“There has already been excellent progress in securing funding, developing the initial designs and submitting the planning application, and we are excited to now join the project team and share our wealth of experience in designing, developing and relaunching venues.” 

As well as the AO Arena, ASM operates another 11 venues in the UK, nine on behalf of local authorities. 

The other venues the company operates include Olympia Exhibition Centre in London and the Utilita Arena Newcastle. 

ASM was also recently selected to operate the new 12,500-capacity venue at Gateshead Quays, due to open in 2024 and replace the aforementioned Utilita. 

At the Marine Lake Events Centre, ASM will sign a full repairing and insuring lease that features a fixed rental payment and a variable rent profit share for the venue, car park and hospitality, according to a report to Sefton’s cabinet. 

The next stage of Southport’s Marine Lake Events Centre plans is to appoint a contractor to build the venue. 

Sefton is to procure a construction firm from the Procure Partnerships North West framework by December. 

A £31m chunk of Southport’s Town Deal award will provide the lion’s share of the funding for the project, while the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority will provide an additional £20m.