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Belfast's Odyssey's two-month closure for £3m upgrade

By Margaret Canning

The Odyssey Arena is closing its doors for two months over the summer for a £3m upgrade.

Seating at the sporting and concert venue is being replaced for the first time since its 2000 opening as part of the upgrade.

The Odyssey Trust, which owns and manages the venue, said it would also improve the arena's "digital infrastructure" as part of the overhaul.

Neil Diamond will see out the arena for the summer with his concert on June 30 before it reopens in time for Belfast Tattoo on September 4.

The following weekend will see the first home league game of the season for resident ice hockey team the Belfast Giants. Other restaurants and attractions in the Odyssey will remain open.

Adrian Doyle, operations director of the Odyssey Trust, said: "2015 is a very exciting year for the Odyssey Arena and we are looking forward to the facilities upgrade and seat refurbishment project taking place during the summer.

"As the arena approaches its 15th birthday it is important for us to re-invest in our facilities and continue to enhance our service offering to customers." Enterprise Minister Jonathan Bell also welcomed the announcement of refurbishments.

He said: "Northern Ireland has increasingly become known as the home of major events and our tourism industry has never been in a stronger position.

"The Odyssey Arena is one of our premier entertainment venues, hosting concerts by international artists, exhibitions and a wide range of sporting events as well as being home to the Belfast Giants.

"The arena makes a significant contribution to our local economy playing an important role in the tourism, hospitality and events sector." All 9,000 seats inside the auditorium will be replaced, as well as the decking and flooring areas.

A new "club seat" section will be added and money is also to be spent on wi-fi technology, digital screens, and chip and pin payment services are also planned.

The arena has a total capacity of around 11,000, but can be altered to suit different events.

A spokesman said it was effectively only an extra month's closure as July was normally reserved for scheduled maintenance.

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