The National Indoor Arena opened in Birmingham in 1991 on a site close to Old Turn Junction of the Birmingham Canal Navigations. Rebuilt on the canalside from 2013-14, it was branded Barclaycard Arena from 2014-17. Then Arena Birmingham from 2017-20. It now has a new sponsor and is called Utilita Arena Birmingham. Still owned by the NEC Group.

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From The NIA Birmingham to Utilita Arena Birmingham





The National Indoor Arena opened in Birmingham in 1991 on a site close to Old Turn Junction of the Birmingham Canal Navigations. Rebuilt on the canalside from 2013-14, it was branded Barclaycard Arena from 2014-17. Then Arena Birmingham from 2017-20. It now has a new sponsor and is called Utilita Arena Birmingham. Still owned by the NEC Group.


The National Indoor Arena Birmingham

The National Indoor Arena was opened in 1991. It was where Gladiators was recorded from 1992 to 1999. Located near King Edwards Road in Birmingham. It is on the Birmingham Canal Navigations at Old Turn Junction, where the Main Line meets the start of the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal. The arena was redeveloped during 2013 and 2014. Reopening in December 2014 at the Barclaycard Arena. This sponsorship ended at the end of August 2017. And it was then known as Arena Birmingham from September 2017. Securing a new sponsor in 2020, the arena was renamed again in April 2020 (during the lockdown while they were closed) to the current Utilita Arena Birmingham.

 

The NIA Birmingham (1991-2014)

Events that took place at the National Indoor Arena during this time include Gladiators (1992-99), the Eurovision Song Contest 1998, and the World Indoor Athletics Championships 2003.

My earliest photos of the NIA were taken during April 2009. By which time they were branding it as the nia birmingham. These views from the Brindleyplace Bridge towards The Malt House and the Brewmasters Bridge.

This view of the nia birmingham taken during June 2009, from the towpath outside of the National Sealife Centre.

NIA redevelopment (2013-14)

The redevelopment started around the summer of 2013 and was completed by the winter of 2014. The arena reopened as the Barclaycard Arena from December 2014.

Scaffolding going up around August 2013. The arena remained open throughout the works, but access to the public was limited.

More hoardings going up around September 2013. The old canalside facade was starting to be dismantled.

When the Library of Birmingham opened during September 2013 for the first time, I was able to get this photo of The NIA from the Secret Garden.

By April 2014 the steel girders had gone up and the shape of the new canalside view of the Arena was already up.

Not long to go by September 2014. The golden fins were in place, as was the glass windows and the three sky needles in the middle.

The Secret Garden view from the Library of Birmingham update taken during Sepember 2014 of the Arena. When the view is clear, you can see Edgbaston Reservoir from here.

The November 2014 update from the Brindleyplace Bridge. Within a month the arena would reopen as the Barclaycard Arena, but was more or less complete by this point.

Barclaycard Arena (2014-17)

The Arena reopened on the 2nd December 2014 as the Barclaycard Arena.

In the middle of December 2014, I took the following nightshots to see the Barclaycard Arena lit up after dark. This was around 5pm. It looked amazing. Including the digital display of the then City Skyline.

In January 2015 I took this digital display on the Barclaycard Arena. First view "lighting up Birmingham's skyline". The second view the Barclaycard Arena logo with the skyline.

In March 2015 I took this view of the Barclaycard Arena from the Secret Garden at the Library of Birmingham.

A May 2015 view of the Barclaycard Arena with it's golden fins.

Arena Birmingham (2017-20)

Barclaycard ended there sponsorship of the arena at the end of August 2017. So from September 2017, the arena was now known simply as Arena Birmingham (but with no sponsor).

Took this view of Arena Birmingham from the Secret Garden at the Library of Birmingham during October 2017.

The Beast from the East and Storm Emma hit Birmingham during early March 2018. Which was when Arena Birmingham was hosting the World Indoor Athletics Championships 2018. But the surrounding canals and towpaths were covered in snow and ice! Athletes and officials could run around outside, but it would have been very cold.

In April 2018, I saw the then new Arena Birmingham logo heading up the steps from the King Edwards Road entrance. Canopies were also at the time going up around The Malt House for an event linking the Arena to The ICC.

My last views of Arena Birmingham before the lockdown and the new sponsor Utilita came into force were taken during January 2020. It would be another 6 to 7 months before I would see the arena again (due to the pandemic / lockdown).

Utilita Arena Birmingham (2020-?)

During the lockdown, the arena had to close (like other venues all around the world).  The name change took place during April 2020. And would now be called Utilita Arena Birmingham. That meant the signs had to be changed, and the old ones taken down.

My first photo of Utilita Arena Birmingham taken in the middle of July 2020 from the Brindleyplace Bridge. The rest near the end of the month.

Hopefully it will one day be safe to reopen indoor arenas like this one. Even for sporting events without crowds. And they could be televised.

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

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