Wasps and the Ricoh Arena have agreed a significant financial investment to back the city’s bid right through until the end of 2017 when the successful host city will be announced.
The agreement will see the Ricoh Arena supporting the bid in a number of ways – on top of the major financial backing – including hosting dedicated events and helping to promote the bid to visitors at key dates including concerts, the MTV Crashes Coventry weekend and the Mela Coventry.
If the city is to be successful in winning the bid, it could bring an economic uplift of around £80 million-£150 million in the lead-up to and during the year. David Burbidge, the Chairman of Coventry City of Culture Trust, said the backing of Wasps and the Ricoh Arena is a key part of the campaign.
“This is fantastic news for the UK City of Culture bid but also for the city,” he said. “The Ricoh Arena is a national and international venue which draws a wide range of artists and performers and also attracts audiences from across the UK and beyond.
“Its support as our main Bid Sponsor is a massive boost and will help us reach that audience and underline what the city has to offer and why we think we should become UK City of Culture in 2021.
“Not only will that be a huge practical help, but the backing of Wasps and the Ricoh Arena emphasises to the city and other key players nationally that we have a highly creditable bid which has widespread backing and support.
“But this is just the beginning of our fundraising efforts – we need as many businesses as possible to come on board to ensure we deliver the best possible bid for Coventry. “We have been bowled over by the level of support shown by the people of Coventry with around 80 per cent backing our bid, so to have influential companies such as Wasps also lining up behind us is a massive boost.
“We are looking forward to working with the team at the Ricoh Arena as we formulate our bid submission.”
David Armstrong, Group Chief Executive of Wasps which owns the Ricoh Arena, said: “We attended an event staged by the Coventry City of Culture Trust team in the city centre and were really impressed with what we saw and heard.
“The City of Culture is a fantastic opportunity for Coventry to highlight what it has to offer and also its enormous potential, and so too for the Ricoh Arena. This is another big step in the development of our strategy where we aim to extend our reach across the whole community and be the venue of choice for music, entertainment and cultural events in the Midlands.
“We are relative newcomers to Coventry and maybe have the advantage of seeing the city with fresh eyes and we have genuinely been impressed with the ambition and positivity of everyone we have encountered.
“Coventry has certainly embraced us and our strategy of bringing exciting new events to the city, and just in the past few weeks we have been able to announce a wide variety of music events including Bruce Springsteen, Rihanna, MTV Crashes Coventry, Mela Coventry and Jess Glynne, all of which fit into that bracket.
“Just bidding for UK City of Culture will allow the city to highlight its cultural energy and diversity – but we want Coventry to win with the Ricoh Arena at the heart of the bid and are glad we can help in that quest.”
Coventry’s bid will be submitted to the Departure for Culture, Media & Sport in 2017, which is likely to shortlist up to four top cities. Coventry would discover whether it has been successful in late 2017 in an announcement made as part of Hull’s year as only the second UK City of Culture.