University bosses are planning to “step in” to provide a new role for Preston’s 53 Degrees live music venue.
The university will take over the Student Union-run facility, which will close at the end of the year as a music venue.
Although details are still to be finalised, it is understood that the room, which can house up to 1,300 people, will be used for meetings, conferences and other student activities.
53 Degrees is currently operated by UCLan Students’ Union with the support of the university, but has largely been financially unviable since it opened nine years ago as part of a £6.5m development.
The shock closure comes as Preston Council is still debating the future of its Guild Hall – if that is also closed the city would be left without a large live music facility.
The venue, which is owned by UCLan and run by the Students’ Union, has seen top singers, bands and comedians take to the stage since it opened, but the SU said “trends in student usage of 53 Degrees have declined considerably,” and it has rarely turned a profit.
A spokesman for the university said: “We are still in discussions with the UCLan Students’ Union regarding the future of 53 Degrees but we are keen that the venue will continue to play a prominent role in student life.
“Our vision is for the university to use the setting for events and academic programmes that support students’ learning and leisure time.
“These include public outreach activities such as the popular Lancashire Science Festival as well as student fashion shows and performances that occur throughout the year.
“There are no plans or discussions taking place relating to a third party promoter taking over 53 Degrees.”
When the facility opened in April 2005 it was billed a top-class entertainment venue.
Former New Order bassist and UCLan Honorary Fellow Peter Hook said he was: “Very sad to hear about 53 Degrees closing – a great venue”.
Robert Rudde said: “Times change, it costs £9,000 a year to study at university, not just UCLan but across the country, throw in living costs as well and a night out is simply not realistic for a lot of students.”
Coun Peter Rankin, leader of Preston Council said: “It’s extremely unfortunate that Preston is losing an entertainment venue with the closure of 53 Degrees. It goes to show how difficult it is to run large music venues.
“We are though keen to ensure that Preston continues to have a culture and leisure offer, and we are in discussions about the future of the Guild Hall.
“It’s too early to say at the moment any more than this but we are exploring all options to try to secure the future of the Guild Hall.”
There are more than 30 events and concerts booked in to 53 Degrees in the next few months and these will all be honoured.