New seating arena for Edinburgh Castle

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Tattoo SeatingBy Alexander Lawrie

A SPECTACULAR new seating arena designed specifically for Edinburgh Castle has been announced.

Organisers of the annual Edinburgh Military Tattoo are behind the plans and have said they want the 8,600 capacity arena in place for the 2011 shows.

Plans for the £16 million project have been lodged with Edinburgh City Council and will play host to a range of events including the tattoo, pop concerts and sporting events.

Benefits for spectators will include extra leg-room, better views and better toilet facilities.

However, the main benefit will be the ability to erect and dismantle the seating in a much-reduced amount of time.

The bowl-shaped arena has been three years in the planning and the current seating takes up to 22 weeks to put up.

The new arrangements will see that time slashed to just four weeks.

The city council has already committed £3 million, and agreed to a further loan of £6 million, to the project while the Scottish Government is widely expected to match the council’s contribution.

Audience research carried out

Tattoo chiefs have vowed to beat the current financial crisis by finding the rest of the cash from a fundraising and corporate sponsorship deals.

The new esplanade has been designed by top Edinburgh-based architects LDN, who were also behind the creation of the city’s Festival Theatre and the refurbishment of the Usher Hall.

Tattoo bosses have said audience research carried out over the last few years had found “a clear and increasing need for improvements to several aspects of the visitor experience”.

In its official submission to the council, the Tattoo states: “The proposed new stands are intended to transform the historic esplanade at Edinburgh castle into an arena which offers summer visitors a unique and intimate venue in a spectacular setting.

“The new stands will be offering scope for other events to be staged on the esplanade at other times of the year and will also modernize the seating arrangements and facilities to improve accessibility and create better disabled access for customers.”

Alan Smith, marketing manager at the Tattoo, said: “Our plan is to have the new arena in place for 2011 and we are confident of meeting that target.

“Obviously we have to go through the planning process with the council, but there have been extensive pre-application discussions with various parties, including neighbouring residents, and we would be hopeful of securing planning permission by the autumn.”

The current seating system at the Castle was installed in 1974 and is based on a German model first used at the Munich Olympics two years earlier.

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