The i360 is closing its restaurant as it moves to become a “21st century entertainment hub”, an echo of the original West Pier.
The West Beach bar and restaurant will close on 5 June, with a new “immersive cricketing experience” due to move into the space over the summer.
Three converted shipping containers are also set to be put on the beach in front of the attraction from June to September, with nets inside for players to bat soft balls into as part of the Sixes Social Cricket game.
The i360 has missed most of its scheduled repayments of the original £36 million loan which Brighton and Hove City Council brokered for it from the government’s Public Works Loan Board. With interest, the council is now owed £48 million.
In February, councillors were told it had implemented a new strategy in a bid to boost visitor numbers, which includes walks on top of the i360 pod and “immersive experiences” that mix theatre with food and drink as well as street food stands and a “games bar”.
This month, Julia Barfield, Chair of Brighton i360, said: “Our vision for Brighton i360 is to create a 21st century beachside entertainment hub – a modern day West Pier – offering our visitors an exciting mix of world-class attractions, entertainment, eating and drinking options.
“Sixes will add to the ever-popular Brighton i360 observation tower, the Nyetimber Sky Bar and the adrenaline-fuelled Extreme 360 activities.
“Social entertainment games bars are a huge trend at the moment. Nowhere else in the UK offers this unique combination of top-class entertainment options.”
Sixes Social Cricket sees players use bats to hit soft balls into nets, with points scored depending on what you hit. The containers will be used for nets, with more inside, alongside food and drink.
Calum Mackinnon, Co-Founder of Sixes, says, “We have always dreamed about having a Sixes on the beach and our new location at Brighton i360 gives us just that.”
At February’s meeting, which was prompted by the i360 missing its last scheduled repayment, councillors decided against foreclosing on the debt now because it would risk a closure before the summer season – the best chance of the attraction making enough money to pay down some debt.
So far, the i360 has repaid £5.8 million but, under its original repayment schedule, had been due to stump up almost £18 million by now.
Its next repayment is due at the end of June.