Bosses at music venue The Empire have pencilled in April for its opening date after plans received final council approval this month.

The Empire announced its move from Far Gosford Street to 22 Hertford Street last year as part of an expansion which will up capacity from 900 to around 1,300.

A change of use of the building – a former cinema and more recently JJB Sports and DW Sports – was approved by Coventry City Council last week.

It marks the final approval for Empire’s new home and bosses have now set a date for its long-awaited opening as April 1, pending government coronavirus rules.

The venue has already announced shows later in the year which include rockers Maximo Park in September and Scouting For Girls in November.

An artist impression of the new Empire on Hertford Street

On-going work to get the site ready includes a ‘local theme’ to new artists’ dressing rooms, starting with a theme based on city icons The Specials.

Phil Rooney, owner of Empire, said: “We have been working there since June last year so we are quite a way down the line.

“We have knocked all the walls down, built all the dressing rooms.

“We have had to put in new toilets as well and we’re putting down the carpets for the offices. So we’ve done quite a lot.

“There is not much in Coventry City Centre as a central point and for access and getting into the centre to see shows.

“As well as bringing people into the city centre from outside of Coventry it is all positive stuff.

“We are hoping to open for April 1 but that is down to the government in the current situation.”

Mr Rooney said the venue is planning to open with a capacity of 1,300 to start with, but that could be increased to 1,500 later down the line.

The venue has also teased on Twitter that it will be making a “massive announcement” this week.

They wrote: “MASSIVE ANNOUNCEMENT THIS WEEK – THAT IS NOT MUSIC!! WE’RE DIVERSIFYING.”

Plans for The Empire’s new home have been backed by a £40,000 investment by The City of Culture which will see City of Culture 2021 activities and events take place at the new venue.

Empire has agreed a peppercorn lease from the city council.

Artists impressions of the brand new Empire venue show that it is set to have a balcony bar which overlooks Hertford Street.

Floor plans also show that the venue will have two rooms – a large concert space, and a smaller room for more intimate shows.

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