Does Norfolk need a bigger music venue?

PUBLISHED: 15:32 28 October 2016 | UPDATED: 16:36 28 October 2016

(left to right) Howard Donald, Gary Barlow and Mark Owen of Take That pose for a photograph. Photo: Ian West/PA Wire

(left to right) Howard Donald, Gary Barlow and Mark Owen of Take That pose for a photograph. Photo: Ian West/PA Wire

You might need to ‘Have A Little Patience’ this morning. Why? Because the clamour for Carrow Road Take That tickets gets under way today.

Fans will ‘Pray’ they get lucky, furiously dialling the band’s box office number or juggling laptops and iPads to be in with a shout of landing the hottest ticket in town. A few potential pop revellers might be deterred by the price, but for many this opportunity is too good to give up. After all, booking online ‘Only Takes a Minute’.

It’s great that one of the world’s most celebrated pop acts is coming to town – but does the appearance of Take That strike a chord with many musos who have long called for a bigger music venue in the county?

Carrow Road has an impressive capacity but the stadium’s sporting schedule does restrict any gigs outside of the summer break. We do have other venues each capable of hosting a sizeable crowd, but they’re far too small for the ambitious household names many would like to see come to Norfolk. So do we need a super-venue?

Arenas capable of holding crowds of 10,000-plus are amazing multi-use venues. Theatre, ballet, circus, concerts and sporting events can be held in these dynamic places. To build one in Norwich would be phenomenal.

So why isn’t it happening? Firstly it takes a whopping cheque to fund these projects.

Local authorities in many cities have subsidised or own these buildings outright. Often the property is then let for management and then sublet to touring promoters. The relationship between the public purse and the commercial sector isn’t always easy.

These venues cost a fortune to build and investors would need to identify a site with plenty of land for car parking. Potentially even constructing a hotel.

Finally, size matters. Take That will sell out Carrow Road. I estimate that to be about 20,000 tickets (give or take a few thousand). So my 10,000-capacity imaginary venue would be too small. A bigger arena for Norfolk would be uneconomical. Only a handful of acts can sell out a super-venue, the likes of Madonna, Coldplay, Elton John etc…

The idea of a mega-venue isn’t on the table, but a more modest arena has previously been discussed on numerous occasions. Music fans who longed for a concert hall in Norwich were delighted by an ambitious £25m plan to transform Norwich’s historic St Andrew’s Hall and Blackfriars’ Hall into a cultural and conference centre. That project hit a ‘flat note’ due to the tough economic climate of 2012.

Then a proposal was drawn up in 2014 for the Broadland Business Park. The site would have included a hotel and a civic centre in a bid to attract major music acts, comedians and exhibitions to Norfolk. The EDP at the time reported that the owners of the Broadland Business Park had been approached by one of the UK’s ‘major arena operators’. Whether the idea stacked up financially or not who knows? I guess the most pertinent fact is that no arena has been built or planning permission sought.

So could the success of Take That in Norwich mean this proposal for a bigger, permanent music facility in Norwich is ‘Back for Good?’ I guess not but it doesn’t do the cause any harm.

• How big a Take That fan are you? Did you notice the six song titles I managed to weave into my column?

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