Thursday, October 17, 2019

£17m shot in arm to make The Odyssey into a family-friendly leisure destination

The Odyssey venue will be redeveloped over the coming months.

Right on the stroke of the Brexit announcement this morning, Guy Hollis from Matagorda 2 announced his £17m intention to “bring The Odyssey in line with some of the best one site leisure destinations in the world”.

The focus is on providing a family entertainment destination with nine or ten restaurants and a single bar, sitting alongside direct access to the SSE Arena on both ground and first floors. The front door will double in width, creating a more obvious entrance. The existing mezzanine level will be gutted. Cineworld will take over the cinema. Hollywood Bowl will refit the current facility to offer 20 lanes of ten-pin bowling.

The Odyssey’s makeover will be complete by June 2020, tying in with W5’s existing £4.5m plans to transform its second and fourth floor science galleries.

New temporary entrances will allow the cinema and W5 to remain open during the work, with the bowling alley staying open until Christmas. The last remnant of Belfast’s IMAX cinema will probably disappear during the refit unless Cineworld’s success with the high-resolution tall-screen format in Dublin brings it back.

The grand opening will coincide with The Odyssey’s 20th anniversary. On a flight back from London, someone involved with the original plans told me how the site would attract families from as far away as Ballymena – just 30 minutes away and without any need to drive through the city centre – with somewhere to come at the weekends.

But the wind off the lough was as cold and uninviting as the mix of clubs and dowdy eateries that ended up competing with the dazzling Victoria Square and its upmarket boutiques and American food outlets.

Hopefully this investment will increase the warmth of the welcome and the footfall in this corner of Titanic Quarter.

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