Barclaycard Arena, Birmingham

Delivering transformation on borrowed time

How do you breath new life into a successful city-centre venue without having to close it for months on end? That was the dilemma faced by the owners of Birmingham’s National Indoor Arena (NIA), the NEC Group.

Since it was opened two decades ago by sprinter Linford Christie, the NIA has hosted hundreds of events, from rock gigs to indoor athletics meetings and conferences.

But short on amenity space and no longer up to modern standards, the venue needed a facelift. So BAM was appointed to transform the NIA. Almost every area of the venue has been revamped, from front of house to backstage.

BAM also created the striking new external façade which includes three 'Sky Needles' and a scrolling light display that has redefined the NIA in its canalside setting. 

Project details

  • Customer: NEC Group
  • Architect: Broadway Malyan
  • Quantity Surveyor: Broadway Malyan
  • Project Management: Novus
  • Structural Engineer: Rodgers Leaske
  • M&E Services Engineer: Hulley + Kirkwood
  • Value: £22 million



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6,000m2 Fact icon extra space has added to the venue
275 Fact icon people working on site at the peak of activity
20m Fact icon high sky needles will light up the night

Fast work

Rather than shut down the whole place for months, the client’s strategy was to reschedule bookings to provide two 12-13 week windows of opportunity: one in Summer 2013 and another in 2014.

With such a short time to complete the scheduled works, the BAM team was under intense pressure. 

The redevelopment has proved a triumph of project management: involving marshalling hundreds of tradespeople and dozens of tasks, despite there being little scope for large-scale prefabrication.

Thunderous homecoming

January 2014 saw a symbolic milestone in the project, as local lad Ozzy Osbourne brought his band back to the venue as the first act to use the new five-star backstage facilities.

As Phil Mead, Managing Director, Arenas at the NEC Group said at the time: “It's really cool to have Black Sabbath open our new dressing rooms at the NIA, at such an exciting time for the redevelopment. We've got one year to go until opening season 2015 and building work is on track.”

A terrific seal of approval for the work completed in phase 1. 

The NIA, now renamed the Barclaycard Arena, was officially opened with a memorable performance by global superstar Michael Bublé, and audience impressed with the new world-class arena.
Official opening of the NIA