Coventry Empire could move to city centre cinema after lease agreed with Council


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In Summary

General | 9th April 2020
The former ABC cinema in Coventry could be transformed into a new live music venue.

In Detail

A consultation is underway by Coventry City Council planners, who are considering plans to change the use of the old cinema from retail to entertainment.

The council has agreed a three-year lease for the ABC cinema to Phil Rooney, manager of gig venue the Empire.

Mr Rooney’s intention is to move the Empire from its current venue in Far Gosford Street, to the city centre location in Hertford Place.

If proposals are passed, the Empire would double its audience capacity to 1,800.

Mr Rooney said: “Our lease on the Gosford Street building was coming to an end but we were desperate to keep live music in Coventry and build on all the hard work we’ve put in since 2015.

“I had some memories of the cinema in Hertford Street and when my son told me that the sports shop had closed, I immediately began talking to Coventry City Council about the potential for the site.

“With the support of the Council and City of Culture 2021, we have built a significant investment that will bring jobs to the city and create a first-class entertainment venue to rival anything in the UK.”

Proposals for the new Empire would see the interior of the cinema, which opened in 1973, redeveloped to create a 1145 sq metre events space with two stages.

Outside, a balcony area would provide an extra area for gig-goers, with a lounge and a bar added on the ground floor.

Despite the coronavirus pandemic, which has shut all entertainment venues in the country, the council has said it hopes Mr Rooney can open the new Empire in Coventry’s City of Culture year of 2021.

Martin Sutherland, Chief Executive of Coventry City of Culture Trust said: “We’re delighted to see The Empire move to new, bigger, premises in advance of a very busy 2021 when we seek to throw a spotlight on Coventry’s live music scene.

“Our investment in organisation and audience development activities will help this iconic Coventry venue reach increased audiences from across the city and help it make the most of Coventry’s year in the spotlight.”

The council’s planning consultation closes 23 April 2020.