A DIRECTOR of Bradford Live has said the building "certainly will" open as an entertainment venue.

Chris Morrell spoke to the Telegraph & Argus this week as the "finishing touches" are applied to Bradford Live, which he described as looking "spectacular" and "breathtaking". 

Concerns and questions have embroiled the multi-million pound regeneration project for months.

In December last year, a spokesperson for the Birmingham-based NEC Group said: "Developer, Bradford Live, will be handing the venue over to operator, the NEC Group, by mid-2024, before the group completes the final fit out in the following months. The venue's launch season will commence in autumn 2024." 

But the NEC Group has repeatedly declined to reaffirm its commitment to Bradford Live or answer key questions when approached by the T&A - while the first two tribute acts announced at Bradford Live were cancelled last month.

Mr Morrell said there was "a lot of conversation going on" in the background and added: "The contract with the NEC Group is still in place and they're due to take over the building and commence a fit-out once we hand over to them within a few weeks' time."

Asked if Bradford Live would launch in the autumn, Mr Morrell said he could not address that question "at the moment".

He did not comment on the two cancelled shows - but he said Bradford Live "certainly will" open as a live music venue.

"That's the purpose of what we've been doing these last ten years," he said.

"It'll be a fabulous venue.

"The scale and flexibility of the venue will make it the best of its kind in northern England.

"It's going to be an amazing addition to Bradford, alongside all the other venues."

He added: "We're looking forward to showing it off to everyone.

"I think everyone will be astounded at how spectacular it is.

"It's a breathtaking space."

The 'Boiler Room Bar' in Bradford LiveThe 'Boiler Room Bar' in Bradford Live (Image: Bradford Live)

Asked when building work on Bradford Live will be finished, Mr Morrell said: "There are things still to do but the expectation is that it'll be complete within the next few weeks, around the end of this month.

"There's activity all over the building and there's change taking place every day.

"Finishing touches are being applied across the building at the moment.

"There's an army of decorators painting walls.

"A lot of the work that's going on currently is the testing and commissioning of equipment in the building - the air handling units, the ventilation, the water systems, the heating and so on.

"We're at a really exciting point in the project.

"Everything's coming together."

He also said he "appreciated" the T&A "doing its job and asking questions" about Bradford Live.

Still no comment from NEC Group

As previously reported by the T&A, Bradford Live has a long-term lease from the iconic building's owner, Bradford Council.

According to Companies House, Bradford Live is a private limited company by guarantee, meaning it does not have shares or shareholders, with Bradford Council currently listed as the only 'person of significant control' for Bradford Live.

A Bradford Council spokesperson said today: "There is a contract with NEC and that remains in place.

"Building works at this world class venue are running to schedule and on target for practical completion in June."

Many people can't wait to get inside Bradford Live and take a look at the refurbished venue Many people can't wait to get inside Bradford Live and take a look at the refurbished venue (Image: Bradford Live)

No comment was provided by the NEC Group when the T&A approached the company this week.

The Bradford Live website still mentions the NEC Group.

It states: "An exciting transformation is underway to breathe life back into an iconic Bradford landmark.

"Located in the heart of a thriving city centre and originally built in 1930, the magnificent art deco building formerly known as the Bradford Odeon is being restored, bringing it back to its former glory as an entertainment hub for the city. The venue will open as a world class leisure and business destination.

"The development is being managed by the Bradford Live team and the NEC Group (UK's leading live events business) and when open is expected to attract 300,000 visitors each year. The venue will host a calendar of 200+ world class music, comedy and family entertainment events as well as providing the city with great conference, meeting and banqueting spaces.

"Our vision is to create a cultural hub for the region that will celebrate the city and venue heritage while ensuring world class event spaces for generations to come."