THE head of the NEC, the operator which will run the former Odeon building as it is transformed into the Bradford Live music venue, has spoken of why they chose the city for their latest venture.

NEC Arena's chairman Phil Mead was interviewed about the Odeon project and the clip has been highlighted as the transformation to live music venue reached a milestone.

Mr Mead said that instrumental in their decision was the investment in the city centre and that Bradford is "coming out of the shadows of Leeds."

He said: "We are taking an operating lease for 30 years. We're committed to Bradford. We are bringing all our exhibition, conference and entertainment expertise behind that to leverage on this project."

"When we saw the building the first time we thought it's an absolute hidden gem just waiting to come back to life, and we think we can bring it back to life in the right way.

"When we were looking at it, you see Broadway and you see high calibre management of shopping centres, and then you see the investment that's gone into the public realm. Those are steps you have to take in order to make the next step and hopefully we come in then others will follow on top of that.

"Bradford itself is moving forward, it's coming out of the shadows of Leeds. It's investing in the infrastructure around the venue and there's a real collaborative approach to bring the city centre back to life and we are investing in that because we believe in it as well."

READ MORE: Milestone for Bradford Live’s Odeon project

In terms of the benefits to the people of Bradford, he added: "It's about the breadth of programming that's most important - to try and create a programme that's got something for everyone.

"We hope to run somewhere over 100 events a year so you've got potentially 300,000 to 350,000 coming into the city centre. That has an economic benefit to the hotels and restaurants and will start to breathe life into the route to the venue and from the venue that isn't there at the moment."

The interview clip was highlighted by the NEC the week that an important milestone was reached in the transformation of the former Odeon building into a 3,800-capacity live music venue.

The work to strip out the steel and concrete partitions that divided the 1930s building has been completed. This has allowed the full height and width of the original auditorium to be fully seen for the first time in years.

The Telegraph & Argus was among those invited to a tour of the building and spoke to Bradford Live’s Lee Craven who spoke about the project had reaching this crucial stage.

“This is a really good milestone. It’s always been tantalising to think what it would look like, and we knew it would be impressive, but it has been over and above expectation on that front.”

Of the project itself, he added: “I always felt that it was the right building at the right time in the right place. I always felt if people could see beyond the initial impression, and we could get enough people on board, then it would prevail.”

The internal demolition programme began around nine months ago. The Bradford Live team are now gearing up to appoint a main contractor and the venue is now scheduled to open in summer 2021.