A (pounds) 50m Scottish national arena is to be built as part of a plan to make Glasgow one of the world's top 10 conference venues.

The Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre (SECC) wants to build the arena in front of its main entrance.

It is also looking to build a 2000-seat banqueting centre which would enable it to host award ceremonies such as the Baftas.

The Clydeside exhibition centre will meet half the arena costs, which include road and flood prevention works, by developing other parts of its 64-acre site.

The rest is expected to come from Scottish Enterprise, the European Regional Development Fund and the private


The arena, which is expected to open in 2007 and seat up to 14,000 people, will be used mainly to host pop concerts.

However, the Scottish Executive has been advised that for a further (pounds) 20m, it also could be adapted for world-class sport.

Details of the arena are contained in a master planning exercise by Page & Park,

Glasgow-based architects, due out next month.

Alongside the physical changes, the SECC also will press the executive for short-term tax breaks in order to improve its competitiveness.

It will urge ministers to make the SECC site Scotland's first Sustainability Performance Area (SPA), giving it relief from tax, rates and red tape in return for meeting specific economic targets.

Tax breaks already help many rival conference cities overseas, and the idea of an SPA for the SECC was backed by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in its recent report on Glasgow's renaissance.

The SECC, a private company with Glasgow City Council as its majority shareholder, has grown from 25 staff to 150 since it opened in 1985. Last year, its conference delegates put (pounds) 60m into Scotland's economy, helping to fuel Glasgow's boom in hotels, shops and restaurants.

Mike Closier, SECC chief executive, said an SPA would be an innovative way to recognise the centre's economic contribution, and let it bring in yet more trade by improving its facilities and cutting charges.

An SPA and arena should also enable Glasgow to move from 40th in the world ranking of conference cities to the top 10.

Mr Closier said: ''An SPA is a real opportunity to help economic regeneration. I'm fed up of waiting for big changes in the tax system - our competitors will have taken all our business by the time that comes around.

''So here is something small and local that can be readily delivered for a small amount of money.''

The lack of a dedicated events arena currently costs the SECC (pounds) 2m a year in missed revenue. About 70 days a year are spent simply moving seating in and out of Hall 4, the centre's largest hall, in order to stage gigs as and when the space is needed.

A purpose-built arena would both attract more concerts and free Hall 4 for more conferences. The new masterplan has concluded that the best site for the arena is the car park immediately outside the SECC, as this is also next to road and rail connections.

The SECC currently has 3000 outdoor parking spaces, spread out around a vast flat apron. Building the arena would cut this to 2000, but the 15% of customers at present arriving by public transport would be expected to double. The rest of the SECC car parks also would be reconfigured.

The recent anti-war rally in front of the Armadillo has inspired a plan to make the area a stone-paved public space.

The area to the rear of the SECC will be built over, with multi-storey car parks next to the Clydeside expressway and the riverside developed for housing or commerce.

An executive spokeswoman said she could make no comment at this stage.