THE BBC’S flagship Sports Personality of the Year awards show is heading for the new Leeds concert arena.
Corporation bosses have announced that their 2013 event will be held at the city’s First Direct Arena on Sunday, December 15.
Taking place for the 60th time, the ceremony is expected to attract a 12,000-strong crowd with millions more watching on TV.
Barbara Slater, director of BBC Sport, said she was “thrilled” the event was on its way to Leeds.
She went on: “The sporting heritage of the city is outstanding and the new arena will be a great venue from which to celebrate the very best of sport in 2013.
“The year includes major events such as the World Athletics Championships, the Ashes, Rugby League World Cup and Women’s Euros as well as a packed calendar across all sporting disciplines, so we’re looking forward to another exciting show.”
Leeds City Council leader Coun Keith Wakefield hailed the BBC’s decision as a “fantastic coup”.
He added: “Together with hosting matches in the Rugby League World Cup in November, the Rugby World Cup in 2015 and the amazing Grand Départ of the Tour de France next year, this is another wonderful sporting event which we are very proud and excited to be holding.
“It also adds to the strong Olympic legacy here in Leeds as we welcome Britain’s finest sportsmen and women to the city.”
Gary Verity, chief executive of the Welcome To Yorkshire tourism agency, said: “We are absolutely delighted that one of the biggest events in the sporting calendar is coming to Leeds.
“This really does underline Yorkshire’s place at the heart of the country’s sporting life.”
The annual awards show was staged in London until 2006, when it went on the road to Birmingham.
Since then it has been held in places such as Sheffield, Liverpool and Salford. Last year’s event took place at the ExCeL conference centre in London.
Information about tickets for the Leeds ceremony will be made available later this year.
Previous winners of the award include Bobby Moore, Lord Coe, Sir Steve Redgrave and Dame Kelly Holmes.
Outgoing Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson and tennis star Andy Murray are among the favourites for this year’s prize.
The council-backed arena opens on July 24 with a Bruce Springsteen concert.