Southport events centre plan set for extra £17.7m Combined Authority funding

Ambitious plans to build a new multi-purpose events centre in Southport are in line for a further £17.7m funding from Mayor Steve Rotheram and the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority.

At a meeting of the Combined Authority (CA) next week, local leaders will be asked to approve funding for the new Marine Lake Events Centre, which includes a 1,500-capacity theatre as well as exhibition and conference facilities.

That funding is on top of £2.3m already committed to pre-development work.

The events complex will replace the existing Southport Theatre and Convention Centre, which closed in 2020 and was unable to reopen after the COVID-19 pandemic when the operator went into administration.

The planned £73m centre, which includes a lakeside sound and light show attraction, is key to the Liverpool City Region business and tourist economy.  

It is expected to create 200 jobs and bring more than half a million more visitors to the town each year, spending an estimated £12.2m.

The complex is at the heart of Sefton Council’s plans for Southport’s regeneration, potentially attracting up to £400m of private sector investment to the town.

Speaking about the project, Steve Rotheram, Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, said, “Southport holds a special place in the hearts of so many people in our city region and beyond as being a family-favourite destination for days out and holidays alike. While we’re incredibly proud of the town’s history and heritage, I firmly believe that Southport’s best days still lie ahead.

“Building on its legacy as a tourist town, I want to ensure that Southport can continue to thrive and attract visitors for many years to come. Thanks to devolution, we’re committing significant investments into projects across our region, like the new Marine Lake Events Centre, that will give a big boost to local businesses and creating good quality, secure jobs.

“This is the beginning of a new chapter in Southport’s story – and I for one cannot wait to see what the future has in store!”

The town has been awarded £38.5m from the government’s Towns Fund, with £33.3m of the total grant allocated to the new events centre.

The Combined Authority’s Strategic Investment Funding, if approved, will part fund the scheme’s development costs.  

A planning decision is expected before the end of this year and, if approved, work on the new complex, would begin next year.

The old centre is scheduled for demolition in spring 2023 with the replacement expected to open in April 2026 to be operated by preferred partner ASM Global, who run hundreds of stadiums, arenas and conference centres around the world.

Councillor Ian Maher, Leader of Sefton Council, said, “As the largest investment project included within the Southport Town Deal, the Marine Lake Events Centre will provide Southport with an incredible events space with state-of-the-art facilities to attract a wide range of different types of entertainment events and audiences to Southport.

“We believe that attractions such as this will create a genuinely unique visitor experience and will only serve to strengthen our visitor economy.”

Councillor Janette Williamson, Liverpool City Region Combined Authority Portfolio Holder for Inclusive Economy and Third Sector, said, “Sefton Council has really exciting plans for Southport, to help restore this classic English seaside resort to its former glory. At the heart of those plans is a replacement for the Southport Theatre and Convention Centre.  Our funding would help unlock that development, creating hundreds of jobs and attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors to the town every year.”

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