A Leeds music expert has hailed plans to extend the capacity for events in Roundhay Park, claiming it could help the city recreate its legendary gigs of the past.
Leeds City Council has applied to extend the capacity for events in Roundhay Park from 19,999 to 79,999 in order to facilitate the two Ed Sheeran gigs later this year.
And, although the authority said the licence would need to be renewed yearly, director of the Music:Leeds events company Samuel Nicholls said having such a licence has the potential to “enrich lives” in the city.
Mr Nicholls, also a senior music lecturer at Leeds Beckett University, said: “Everyone is aware of the issues facing local residents for these events, but we want to be able to host them in the city. We need that place in the city.
“It’s an aspiration for Leeds to become a global city with a reputation for culture. The scale of the arena is only so big – Leeds is the third biggest city in the country, we need a space like this to host live music.”
Pop star Ed Sheeran is set to play over two nights in Roundhay Park in August, following in the footsteps of legendary 80s pop acts such as Madonna, Bruce Springsteen and The Rolling Stones.
It would be the first time the park had held an events licence of this size since 2006, when it was downgraded due to a lack of demand for large outdoor concerts.
But Mr Nicholls believes there is now a market for huge gigs in Leeds, and that a city of its size should have an events space to match.
He added: “You can’t overplay the significance of some of those gigs of that scale in the 1980s – Madonna, Springsteen, The Stones – these were legendary in Leeds and people still talk about them.
“It doesn’t have to be 80,000 every time either – think about all the acts that sell out Leeds Arena or play Elland Road – it is increasing that capacity.
“We are at a point in the city’s development where we need to grow, and the council takes it seriously to hold events of this scale, and I think they are approaching this in a sensible way.
“There is so much potential to enrich people’s lives – it can be a massive catalyst.”