American firm to run £75m Marine Lake venue

A global venue management business based in California is set to be the operator of Southport’s £75m Marine Lake Events Centre. Tony McDonough reports

Marine Lake
Image of proposed new events and conference centre on Marine Lake in Southport


Southport’s £75m Marine Lake Events Centre (MLEC) will be operated by a US-based global venue management business.

Sefton Council says ASM Global is its preferred partner for MLEC, being built to replace Southport Theatre and Convention Centre which closed in 2020. Engineers started investigatory works at the site in early August.

A report published on Tuesday recommended the council’s cabinet approves the lease agreement with ASM, which is based in Los Angeles. It will also ask councillors to give the green light for the authority to borrow £19.7m towards the project.

Funding will also include £31.7m from the Town Deal fund and £17.7m from the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority. A detailed planning application and comprehensive business case have been submitted.

MLEC will join ASM Global’s network of more than 350 venues around the world. Between them they host 20,000 events, and welcome 165m guests every year. MLEC will also include a light, water and sound show on the lake itself.

Cllr Marion Atkinson, Sefton Council’s Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Skills, said: “By awarding preferred bidder status to ASM Global we are once again showing our ambition, determination and passion towards delivering the incredible MLEC project.

“We are doing everything to ensure the end goal is a fully flexible, scalable cultural space. It will be capable of staging concerts, stand-up comedy, family shows, musical theatre, conferences and exhibitions.

“Our borough, our town and the council will benefit from the wealth of experience and knowledge the team at ASM Global can bring. Within the UK they operate 12 venues ranging from a seaside theatre in Whitley Bay to the exhibition centre of Olympia London and AO Arena in Manchester.”

The cabinet report also confirmed that Sefton Council is in ongoing discussions with a number of public sources, including Arts Council England. This process aims to identify additional funding streams to support the project.

ASM European executive vice-president, Chris Bray, added: “Southport has a rich history of events and culture. We are pleased to engage in this long-term partnership and what’s set to be a visionary and game-changing project for Southport and the Sefton region.”

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