Glasgow Hydro to get late final safety check

An artist's impression of the completed Hydro arena. Picture: PA
An artist's impression of the completed Hydro arena. Picture: PA
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BOSSES at Glasgow’s new Hydro concert arena have admitted they may not get a full safety certificate for the complex until the day before Rod Stewart is due to open the venue before 13,000 fans.

But John Sharkey, the man in charge of the project, insists there is “no plan B” in the event of the venue not being ready in time for Stewart’s concert on 30 September.

He said it was “within touching distance” of completion, but admitted “there is a hell of a lot still do” for the grand unveiling.

A press conference and VIP reception to unveil the 45-metre tall venue has been confirmed for a few days beforehand.

An expansion of the facilities at the SECC complex was announced in 2001, with plans for the indoor concert arena unveiled two years later.

Construction work on the Hydro, designed by the world-renowned London practice Foster & Partners, began in February 2011.

But the work has been dogged by difficulties, including a legal wrangle with the contractors, the late-running of the building programme – which led to its opening night being put back –and a dramatic fire in June.

Mr Sharkey revealed workers would be on site around the clock to meet the deadline and said the plan was for the venue to be completed, with all facilities up and running, by the time Stewart’s gig got under way.

The panelling on the iconic “pie-case” roof of the Hydro, on the city’s waterfront, has been completed and the final seats are expected to be put in place over the next week.

Mr Sharkey said: “We are sticking to the 30 September deadline. Our plan B is basically to stick with plan A. There’s a hell of a lot still to do, but a lot has happened over the last few months.

“The final stage is getting a safety certificate and a licence, but we haven’t set a deadline for when we need that. It could be the day before. If we don’t get that we won’t be able to get a licence to open.

“We don’t have any contingency plan at all and we haven’t set any alternative dates aside with Rod Stewart. It’s not something we’re planning for.”

Glasgow has ambitions for the silver-domed building, which has cost £125 million to construct, becoming one of the world’s top five concert arenas to rival venues such as the O2 in London and Madison Square Gardens in New York. Acts due to appear there over the next few months include Fleetwood Mac, Boyzone, the Proclaimers, Peter Gabriel, Depeche Mode and the Arctic Monkeys.

John Langford, director of concerts and events at the SECC, said: “We want to attract about 140 events a year to the Hydro and we have 107 planned between now and the end of 2014, before we even open.”