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Leeds unveils the first direct Arena, as the Leeds based bank announces major sponsorship deal

02 May 2013

first direct announced today that it will give its name to the new and ground-breaking Arena in Leeds in a 5 year sponsorship deal.  The 13,000 seat venue which opens in July 2013 will now be called the first direct arena

This is the first major sponsorship the bank has undertaken in its 24 year history and means the name of the multi-award winning customer service champion will become ever more familiar to the many thousands of fans who attend the concerts and performances to be hosted at the Arena. 

Mark Mullen, Chief Executive of first direct commented:  "This is a really exciting move for first direct .  Leeds is the city that has made us who we are and we're thrilled to be able to support such a major development for all the people who live and visit here. 

"It's the first time we've undertaken such a major sponsorship but we're often referred to as banking's best kept secret so this should certainly put us on the map." 

The first direct arena will have a pre-launch event on July 24th with Bruce Springsteen, followed by its official opening by Sir Elton John on the 4th of September.   The £65m venue, which features a unique fan shaped design, the best acoustics in Europe and an innovative and striking design, is already attracting the biggest names in the entertainment industry. 

John Sutherland, Managing Director of SMG Europe who run the Arena, said: "SMG Europe is totally committed to operating world class arenas that are supported by world class commercial partnerships.  We are delighted that such an iconic and customer focused brand is partnering with us to deliver the outstanding customer experience that will be offered at the first direct arena." 

Cllr Keith Wakefield, Leader of Leeds City Council, said: "It is excellent news that a Leeds company with national reach that employs many people in this city is the proud sponsor of our outstanding new arena.  When the council decided to pursue its vision of providing a world-class entertainment venue for the city it knew it would require a big name to match that ambition. 

"With first direct at the helm of establishing the arena's name in UK and world touring schedules, the venue will be linked to a company that consistently comes top of customer services polls, has a great business reputation, is a major player in the economy and is key to the livelihoods of many of Leeds' people.




For further information please contact Amanda Brown on 0113 276 6700, or Rebecca Hirst on 0113 276 6899, 

For the latest updates, visit the first direct Newsroom or follow us on Twitter 

Notes to Editors

For those who don't know us:

first direct revolutionised UK banking when it launched in 1989 by offering 24 hour telephone banking answered by a real person every time and it has never closed since. The bank is consistently highlighted for its customer service and 1 in 3 of its customers join as a direct result of personal recommendation. 

We employ 2,800 people Leeds and 750 people in Hamilton. 

Some of our Award highlights:

Named a CoolBrand for the 7th year running in 2012

Named Which? overall Best Financial Services Provider for 3rd year running in 2012

Named Best Overall Provider in the MoneySupermarket Super Awards 2013

Winner of the Consumer Moneyfacts Best Customer Service Award 2013 

first direct in the Local Community 

first direct is committed to supporting its local communities, demonstrated through both our leading strategic charity and local community partnership with Child Line, and our programme of community investment. 

We've raised over £4.7 million for ChildLine in cash and kind to date and through our Community Partnership Scheme, our employees have the opportunity to both apply for charitable funding, and also to volunteer to get involved with the charity to help bring the project to life.  

We've recently agreed funding for two Yorkshire based Charities:

The Works Skatepark is based in Leeds 10. Funding has been allocated for both a cycle work shop which will engage young people, many from deprived areas in maintaining and restoring bikes, and for a summer scheme, which allows young people to access over the summer at a reduced rate. Castaway Goole transforms the lives of disabled people through music and drama. first direct has funded both software and hardware to enhance digital opportunities for people with learning disabilities.

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