Work on the new Stadium and Arena Complex for Milton Keynes has officially started. Pete Winkelman, chairman of Milton Keynes Dons FC and Managing Director of Inter MK, the business consortium behind the project, performed the ground-breaking ceremony at the site today alongside many Milton Keynes' dignitaries including the Chief Executive of the Milton Keynes Lions, Vince Macaulay.
The multi-purpose sport and spectator events facility, designed by HOK SVE will be an iconic building providing a stunning addition to the Milton Keynes' skyline. It will also complete the cultural jigsaw for MK and become a regional entertainment and leisure destination at the heart of one of Europe's leading growth areas.
This is the biggest development in the history of Milton Keynes outside of the City Centre, and represents an inward investment of over £100m at phase one. The project is the result of a groundbreaking collaboration between Inter MK, ASDA, IKEA and the public sector of Milton Keynes, led by MK Council and the Government's regeneration agency English Partnerships.
Pete Winkelman said: "The fact that we are here today is the result of a massive community effort, and I believe great things will come of it.
"There have been many stakeholders that have helped turn this dream into a reality. I would especially like to thank my enabling partners ASDA and IKEA. And most importantly the people of Milton Keynes, represented by the 'can-do' members of Milton Keynes Council and our local Members of Parliament.
"I am also hugely grateful for the valuable advice and support provided by English Partnerships, the MK Parks Trust, The Bletchley Development Board, Sport England and SEEDA (The South East England Development Agency)."
The complex will combine a 30,000 seat stadium - the permanent home of the MK Dons - with a 5,000 seat indoor arena, where the MK Lions basketball team will be based. There will also be a 1,000 seat conference centre, plus a hotel, restaurants and retail superstores for ASDA and IKEA. The superstores could be open as soon as Christmas of 2005, whilst the stadium, designed to UEFA's Four Star specification, and the Arena for the Lions is due to open in time for the 2006/07 league campaigns.
The Lions Chief Executive, Vince Macaulay said " This is one of the most important days for Lions Basketball and the sport as a whole in MK, I am just delighted and proud to be part of this, the Lions will do every thing we can to make MK proud."
While the economic benefits of Stadium MK will be felt across the region, the greatest effect will be in its contribution to the regeneration of the Bletchley area of Milton Keynes. Over 3,500 new jobs will be created by the development, and Bletchley will also benefit from a £3m cash injection into town centre initiatives, local public transport improvements, as well as the creation of enhanced sports facilities at Derwent Drive and the provision of a new and improved Irish Community Centre at Manor Fields. A further £5m is to be spent on road improvements in and around the stadium area.
The construction work for the new stadium will be undertaken by local company Buckingham Group Contracting, who completed the speedy conversion of the National Hockey Stadium for the MK Dons.
Jane Hamilton, Chief Operating Officer, English Partnerships, welcomed the announcement:
"Milton Keynes continues to expand its exciting range of leisure and retail opportunities. As the city grows - this first class, mixed-use stadium development will be a huge plus for residents and visitors alike. I'm delighted that big international companies such as IKEA and ASDA see the real potential of Milton Keynes."
Isobel Wilson, Milton Keynes Council Leader, said:
"This is a groundbreaking moment in every sense of the word. The stadium complex will provide a major sporting and economic boost for Milton Keynes, reinforcing our reputation and once again showing that we are a force to be reckoned with."
"Milton Keynes Council has been happy to support, in every way we can, the hard work put in by Pete Winkelman to get this project off the ground."
David Foster, Chief Executive, MK Parks Trust, said:
"Milton Keynes Parks Trust was pleased to be able to help facilitate the development of the stadium by releasing some of its land. The landscaping plan for the land around the perimeter of the development has been drawn up in conjunction with the Trust and when it is implemented we believe it will complement the development well. We see this as an important new facility for the city and wish Pete and Inter MK every success."