The offical opening concert at the First Direct Arena has been hailed a great success - and the venue itself described as an "incredible addition" to the city.
Teams of special volunteer city ambassadors were out in force across the city centre to welcome visitors last night. They greeted people arriving at railway and bus stations and other key access points to the city to help direct them to car parks and to the arena.
Taxi marshals were also on hand to point people to nearby ranks and extra staff joined the round-the-clock city centre cleansing teams, who put on extra bins and ensured the area was thoroughly cleared overnight.
When the council first pledged to ensure an arena would be built for the city of Leeds it was with the determination that it would be a cutting-edge venue with superb design and technical specifications to attract the finest of the world’s performing artists. Now we have firmly achieved that, in no small part due to very successful partnerships with everyone involved in the project, from design through to construction. It is a very special performance place that is an incredible addition to the city ....... (and) will further increase Leeds’ appeal and bring in more and more visitors.”
The formal official opening honours at the First Direct Arena were performed by Leeds City Council leader Councillor Keith Wakefield, who cut a ribbon across the main entrance to symbolically welcome in the crowds.
He was joined by Lord Mayor councillor Tom Murray and the arena's general manager Ben Williams. It marks the beginning of an opening fortnight of varied events, featuring diverse acts such as the legendary Leonard Cohen, local rock heroes Kaiser Chiefs and classical supremo Andrea Bocelli.
Elton John made sure the First Direct Arena in Leeds was given a sensational opening with a set lasting over two hours. Sir Elton welcomed the crowd, saying it was "great to play this wonderful new place", especially as it was his first gig back for a while.
The prolific artist, who releases his 30th solo album later this month, was performing just days after he was awarded the inaugural Brit Icon Award.
Excitement is mounting in Leeds as Elton John prepares to officially open the First Direct Arena tonight. His set - and only UK indoor date - will include number one hits and classic songs from his 40-year career.
One of the greatest and most successful live artists in the world today, Elton's spectacular stage shows continue to delight audiences around the globe. His popularity proved only yesterday when he received the first-ever Brits Icon award for having a lasting impact on the UK music industry.
Elton John's career began in 1969. He boasts 35 gold and 25 platinum albums, 29 consecutive top 40 hits and has sold more than 250 million records worldwide. He holds the record for the biggest selling single of all time - and has played more than 3,500 concerts worldwide
The First Direct Arena in Leeds officially opens tonight with Elton John taking to the stage.
When it was announced he would be playing Leeds City Council leader Councillor Keith Wakefield said;
“This is a real statement of intent for Leeds Arena as a venue that will compete with the best in Europe and indeed the world. To have a long-established and world-famous artist of Elton John’s calibre opening our venue as his only UK arena appearance of the year is a great coup."