Bradford's derelict Odeon cinema is to be reborn as a live music venue, it has been announced.

NEC Group International - the company behind the Birmingham NEC - has been announced as the operator of the new venue which is slated to open in 2020.

They will partner with Bradford Live, the group that has campaigned to secure the Odeon's future, taking out a 30-year lease on the building and investing £2 million towards the renovation work needed to get the building ready for its new use.

The operators reckon that the revamped Odeon will be "the biggest mid-size venue in the country outside London".

NEC Group Arenas managing director Phil Mead said: "Bradford Odeon, once restored, will breathe new life into an historic building which has played a pivotal role in the city’s past. The redeveloped venue, as part of the ongoing regeneration of Bradford city centre anchored around City Park, will deliver jobs and investment and transform the live event and entertainment offer of the City."

Here he is talking to us this afternoon:

Alongside converting the main auditorium to a performance space, the 1930s art deco ballroom is to be fully restored and put to use as a venue for weddings, banquets, conferences and corporate events.

Lee Craven, director of Bradford Live, said: "Bradford Live is delighted to announce NEC Group International as our Operator Partner for the Odeon.  They bring a wealth of experience and resource and the work they did to win the bid was hugely impressive.

"They understand the building thoroughly and what its transformation will mean for the City. The 30-year commitment NEC has made allows Bradford Live to unlock a majority of the funding needed to restore the building and we are now working closely with the Council to ensure the full funding package is secured.

"Bradford Live looks forward to partnering with NEC Group and Bradford Council to ensure that Bradford will soon have one of the very best live music/event venues in the UK."

Si Cunningham, chairman of Bradford Civic Society, said: 

"We've been campaigning for the Odeon's rebirth as a live music venue for some years now, and today's news is the very best we could've hoped for. 

"This is a hugely respected national operator saying they believe in Bradford, and I'm now more confident than ever that this project will have a transformative effect on our city's fortunes.

"Bradford Civic Society will continue to push for the local enterprise partnership to secure the remaining necessary funding for Bradford's Odeon, so that the project can continue to go from strength to strength and give the entire region a world-class venue to be proud of."

The news has also been welcomed by the Bradford Odeon Rescue Group, whose spokesman Mark Nicholson said: "The announced partnership of Bradford Live and the NEC Group is not only another exciting step towards the delivery of the plans to bring the Odeon building back into use, it is undoubtedly a significant step.

"With over forty years' worth of success, the NEC Group are the perfect operator to provide concert-goers with their own brand 'unforgettable live experiences' in Bradford.

"This announcement also indicates the strong, unwavering commitment that Bradford Live continues to demonstrate towards the Odeon behind the scenes, and we congratulate Lee Craven and his team for securing a partnership with such a prestigious operator as the NEC Group."

It's hoped the venue will attract big name bands to Bradford, and today's plans have been welcomed by Leeds arena-fillers Kaiser Chiefs.

The band said: "Beautiful old buildings are perfect for rock ‘n’ roll shows – it can make a real difference performing in these characterful rooms compared to plain black box type venues.  The Bradford Odeon would make a brilliant venue for the north, especially as there isn’t a room of that size in either Leeds or Bradford."

Other attractions likely to feature in the programme are live comedy and Bollywood shows.