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Leeds Arena named one of country's top landmarks

The First Direct Arena in Leeds has been named one of the country's top landmarks.

Leeds Arena
Leeds Arena

The CITB, the Industrial Training Board (ITB) for the construction industry in England,

Scotland and Wales, named it alongside other English landmarks like the Etihad Stadium and the Gherkin in London.

The iconic 13,000 seater venue in Leeds hosted Thursday's Tour de France opening ceremony, watched across the world.

Tony Watson, Director of Sales, Marketing & PR for the venue said: "We’re delighted that the experts at the CITB have recognised the first direct arena’s iconic design and put us in the top five within the UK."

Thousands gather for Tour Opening Ceremony

Mark Cavendish Credit: ITV Sport

Thousands of people gathered tonight for a spectacular ceremony to mark the arrival of the world's greatest bike race in the UK.

Organisers of the Tour de France's visit to Yorkshire say it is the first time the traditional team presentation event has been incorporated into a lavish opening arena ceremony showcasing the county, the sport and the race.

The race kicks off on Saturday morning in the centre of Leeds and tonight the city played host to the 198 riders taking part, including British hopes Mark Cavendish and last year's winner Chris Froome.

The Yorkshire public got their first glimpse of the stars of the Tour in action when all the teams rode through the city centre streets to the new 10,000-seat Leeds Arena.

The opening ceremony began with the band Hope & Social who performed with 100 local people, including a roller-skating choir, to form The Band Anyone Can Join.

Thousands of cycling fans then cheered the first of the 22 teams on to the stage - Team Katusha.

Tonight's curtain-raiser is a prelude to the opening stage of the 101st Tour in Leeds.

Saturday's opening stage will see the 22 teams ride to Harewood House, just north of Leeds, where the ceremonial start will be conducted by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry.

The riders will then tackle the hills and lanes of the Yorkshire Dales before a sprint finish in Harrogate.

British hopes are pinned on Cavendish, and hundreds of thousands of people are expected to line the route to cheer him on to the finish line in his mother's home town.

The royal visitors will also be in Harrogate to welcome the leading riders and the peloton.

On Sunday, stage two will take the Tour from York to Sheffield and feature some of the toughest climbs in British cycling.

Despite the opening two stages being billed as Yorkshire's Grand Depart, the other side of the Pennines has also tapped into the Tour de France excitement with Rochdale making the most of the fact that a 0.6-mile section of stage two passes through the borough.

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Line-up revealed for Grand Depart's spectacular Opening Ceremony

Artist's impression of Grand Depart Opening Ceremony stage
Artist's impression of Grand Depart Opening Ceremony stage

The Yorkshire Grand Départ of the Tour de France 2014 kicks off exactly four weeks tonight with a spectacular Opening Ceremony and Team Presentation at the Leeds Arena.

Defending champion Chris Froome and sprint sensation Mark Cavendish, whose mother is from Harrogate, will be among 22 top cycling stars to greet the crowd on July 3, in a glittering ceremony showcasing some of the county’s top entertainment talent.

Mark Cavendish
Mark Cavendish Credit: ITV Sport

Yorkshire band Embrace will headline the event, which will be their first arena gig since their recent sell-out comeback tour and album. Their latest album went straight into the national album chart at number 5.

Embrace frontman Danny McNamara said: “It’s going to be amazing, to have one of the biggest annual sporting events in the world coming to our back yard and to be part of it is nothing short of massive, we're really looking forward to it!"

Kimberley Walsh
Kimberley Walsh Credit: ITV Yorkshire

Girls Aloud star Kimberley Walsh will join York singer/songwriter Alistair Griffin on stage to perform the track he wrote called The Road – the official anthem of Yorkshire's Grand Départ 2014.

Kimberley, who is from Bradford, said: “It is going to be a night to remember and one where we make history together, giving the Tour de France a true Yorkshire welcome. Performing at this event with Alistair in our home county is going to be a special moment for me.”

To celebrate the collaboration between Yorkshire and France, million selling French singer Pauline Vassuer will sing her hit “Allo le Monde”.

The orchestra and chorus of Opera North will perform music specially created for the event live throughout the ceremony.

The band Hope and Social, one of the stars of the hugely successful Yorkshire Festival, will also take part – teaming up with 100 performers of all ages who’ve joined them as they’ve taken their Tour of Infinite Possibility around the county.

Hosts, ITV sports presenter Jill Douglas and the voice of the Tour de France Sebastien Piquet, will interview riders from the teams and Team Sky will parade their top secret Pinarello's Dogma F8 bikes which have been a year in the making and are reportedly the best bikes the team have ever ridden.

Executive producer Martin Green, who was Head of Ceremonies at the London 2012 Olympics, said: "We're breaking new ground here for the Tour de France with this ambitious show - it's something much bigger and completely new to the cycling world.

"With the theme of the event The People of Yorkshire Welcome the World, this will give the riders the entrance they deserve as the Yorkshire Grand Départ celebrations begin."

Gary Verity, Chief Executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, said: "We know how enthusiastic millions of people are to make sure they get a chance to be part of the Tour de France coming to Yorkshire and their first opportunity will be at the Opening Ceremony and Team Presentation on Thursday July 3.

"Thousands of people will be able to see up close and hear from these cycling stars, witnessing a moment in history and making the Tour’s arrival an unforgettable experience."

The show will be broadcast around the world, with a special programme in the UK on ITV 4.

Tickets for the not-for-profit event start at £45 upwards (all the highest priced £85 tickets sold out in minutes) and are available at [www.letouryorkshire.com/

tickets](http://www.letouryorkshire.com/tickets) by phone on 0844 248 1585 or from the box office in Trinity Leeds shopping centre where no booking fee applies.

Prince lines up Leeds date

Musical royalty will be gracing the stage of the Leeds Arena this May.

Prince to play Leeds date
Prince to play Leeds date Credit: Press Association

Prince has confirmed the show on May 23 as one of just three UK dates.

The last time the music icon played in Yorkshire was 1995.

He has sold over 100 million records, has had 10 platinum albums and thirty top 40 singles.

He has also won an Oscar, a Golden Globe, seven Grammies and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004.

Truly one of a kind, and the man behind hits such as The Most Beautiful Girl in the World, Kiss, Purple Rain, and Little Red Corvette, Prince is one of the most successful recording artists of all time, and is renowned for his spectacular live shows.

Organisers defend Tour de France event ticket charge

Tour de France organisers in Yorkshire have defended their decision to charge up to £85 a ticket for the Team Presentation at Leeds Arena.

Leeds Arena to host Tour de France event
Leeds Arena to host Tour de France event

Tickets go on sale on Friday, but some claim these ceremonies are usually free.

Welcome to Yorkshire insists it's a not-for-profit event and that money made will help ensure it's the biggest Team Presentation ever.

Bryan Adams announces Yorkshire dates

Bryan Adams has announced two Yorkshire dates as part of his tour marking the 30th anniversary of the release of hit album 'Reckless'.

Bryan Adams
Bryan Adams Credit: Press Association

He becomes the latest in a string of big names to play the Leeds Arena.

The Canadian rocker will play the £60million venue on November 25.

He follows Bruce Springsteen and Elton John to play the arena which can hold up to 13,500 people.

He will also play at Sheffield's Motorpoint Arena on November 18, the first time he has played there since 2011.

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IBF bantamweight title for Hall at Leeds Arena

Stuart Hall completed his unlikely road to redemption by claiming the vacant IBF bantamweight title after a wild and woolly points win over South African Vusi Malinga at the FirstDirect Arena in Leeds.

His left eye swollen completely shut through the final four rounds, Hall took the fight unanimously 116-111, 117-110 (twice) on the three judges' cards after a thrilling, action-packed war which saw Malinga dumped to the canvas in round three.

Grunge legends come to Leeds

Pearl Jam who are playing the Leeds Arena next year Credit: Leeds Arena

Next July Grunge legends Pearl Jam will play Leeds Arena as one of only two UK dates in a European tour. This follows the release and success of their tenth studio album Lightening Bolt. Tickets for the July 8 show go on sale on December 20.

Pearl Jam released their tenth studio album ‘Lightning Bolt’ in October. It debuted at number 2 in the UK charts, their highest chart position since ‘Vs’, released in 1993.

To date, the band has sold over 31.5 million records in the U.S, and an estimated 60 million worldwide. Pearl Jam has outlasted and outsold many of their contemporaries from the grunge breakthrough, and are considered one of the most influential bands of the 1990’s.

Leeds Arena wins structural award

Leeds Arena

Leeds First Direct Arena has won a prestigious engineering award.

It landed the award in the arts and entertainment category at the Structural Awards 2013.

The arena was picked from a global shortlist, which included entries from Germany, Georgia, China and even Antarctica.

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