BULLDOZERS have moved in to begin work on demolishing a building on the site earmarked for the new Leeds Arena.
The five-storey Brunswick Building, formerly owned by Leeds Metropolitan University, is being pulled down to make way for the arena which will be built on a 5.1-acre site at Clay Pit Lane in Leeds city centre.
Work to demolish the building and clear the Claypit Lane site, in Leeds city centre, is expected to take around 18 weeks.
Yesterday a 140 tonne excavator started the work as civic dignitaries looked on.
The Leeds Arena, which is due to open in 2012. Once the site has been cleared and levelled part of it will be used as a temporary public car park.
The arena will be a 12,500 seat entertainment venue able to accommodate a range of events. It is expected to create over 300 new jobs and bring in over 25m to the Leeds economy as visitors spend money while they are in the city.
The new arena will be operated by SMG Europe, which won the contract to manage the venue.
The leader of Leeds City Council Coun Andrew Carter has described the project as "first class" and said it would be Britain's best entertainment venue.
Critics of the scheme fear the arena will take trade away from existing conference centres like Sheffield Arena.
The city council paid 6m to Leeds Metropolitan University for the 2.9-acre plot at Clay Pit Lane, near the Merrion shopping centre.
The remainder of the five-acre plot earmarked for the arena is already owned by the council and at present is used as a car park.
News of the purchase of the land last year came just weeks after the local authority rejected private sector bids to build the 12,500-seater complex at either Holbeck's Sweet Street or land next to Leeds United's Elland Road ground.
The council said building the facility by itself at Clay Pit Lane offered better long-term value for money.