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Hotelier urging support for £30m Edinburgh arena

Ross BandstandEdinburgh could be poised for a stylish new concert venue if a hotelier can persuade the funding authorities to back his £30 million vision for a world class arena.

Apex Hotels group founder Norman Springford, a former owner of the Edinburgh Playhouse, is offering to invest his own money into a replacement for the ageing Ross Theatre in the Princes Street gardens.

Mr Springford (below) believes Edinburgh should be able to support an arena to match the Sydney Opera House or Bilbao’s Guggenheim museum, reports The Scotsman, and he wants a design competition to come up with something similar.

He has sent proposals to council chief executive Sue Bruce, for a 5,000-seat building in the shadow of Edinburgh Castle.

He hopes he can get backing from city-based companies, philanthropists and government agencies such as the Heritage Lottery Fund. It would be a similar campaign to that which was used to fund the National Museum of Scotland in Chambers Street.

The rundown Ross Theatre, or Bandstand, is an open-air venue with a 2,000-seat capacity but events are subject to the vagaries of the Scottish weather. It is a centrepiece of the annual fireworks concert at the end of the International Festival and at Hogmanay.

The current structure was developed in 1935 on the site of an earlier building dating back to 1877. It was gifted to the City by William Henry Ross, chairman of the Distillers company and Mr Springford is hoping for similar generosity for the current crop of wealthy business leaders and corporate organisations.

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