AO Arena ‘electrifying’ AO partnership


AO Arena completes renovation project Image: Manchester Arena, G-13114, CC BY-SA 4.0

Manchester’s (UK) AO Arena has completed its £50 million (€59m) redevelopment and has announced an extension of its naming rights partnership.

‘IQ’ stated that the ASM Global-operated UK venue, which opened in 1995, has been supported by the electrical retailer AO since 2020 on an initial five-year deal, which will now extend until at least 2030.

The Manchester Arena (currently known as the AO Arena for sponsorship reasons) is an indoor arena in Manchester, England (UK), immediately North of the City Centre and partly above the Manchester Victoria Station in air rights space. The arena has the highest seating capacity of any indoor venue in the United Kingdom, and the fifth-largest in Europe with a capacity of 21,000.

As the world’s leading venue management company and producer of live event experiences, Los Angeles (US)-based ASM Global is the pre-eminent management and content partner with over 350 venues worldwide. Operating and investing in the world’s most important stadiums, arenas, convention centers, and theaters requires unmatched dedication and the most profound expertise.

The AO World, also known as Appliances Online, is an online retailer of electrical and household appliances. The company was founded in 2000 by John Roberts and is based in Bolton, England. The AO operates in the United Kingdom, and previously operated in Germany and the Netherlands.

Exulted Jen Mitchell, General Manager (GM) of AO Arena, “We are delighted to have extended our partnership with AO, a partner who shares our sincere commitment to improving our local communities. Together, we look forward to continuing our work shaping the thriving creative and cultural scene in Manchester.”

‘IQ’ further stated that to celebrate its redevelopment, the 21,000-capacity venue held a topping out ceremony attended by the Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham, who described it as “the beating heart of Manchester”, and the chart-topping Manchester rock band Blossoms.

“When the AO Arena opened again after COVID, we were the first band to play a gig here,” said Blossoms, who placed their hands in cement on the concourse, leaving their handprints in perpetuity in the fabric of the venue. “We’re excited to celebrate the official topping out of the redevelopments and look forward to seeing what the future AO Arena has to offer.”

The arena’s revamp includes a complete back of house update, including a new artiste green room, as well as upgraded artiste dressing rooms and crew facilities. In addition, the event day guest experience has been overhauled, with new entrances and state-of- the-art technology mean that getting in and out of the arena will be “the quickest in any venue in Europe”.

A brand new lower concourse bar area has a capacity of 6,000, designed to support the increased standing floor capacity within the arena bowl, while there are also new bars in the main concourse, plus a new bar and restaurant, The Mezz, which is set to open in March.

It follows the ASM Global joining forces with the award-winning chef Simon Rogan Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE) and the UMBEL Restaurant Group alongside chef Tom Barnes, on a “first of its kind” new and exclusive culinary partnership.

Cumbria (UK)-based the UMBEL Restaurant Group is a private limited company that owns, manages and partners with restaurants across the United Kingdom.

Enthused Chris Bray, President of ASM Global Europe, “We are truly so excited to be launching this innovative concept and partnership with UMBEL. There’s nothing like this in the United Kingdom arenas right now, so we’re incredibly proud to be setting the standard in food and beverage (F&B) innovation, alongside some of the UK’s most exciting fine dining experts. We believe our customers deserve the best, and we’re always exploring new ways to do just that, reimagining what the live entertainment experiences look like, including the food and beverage that’s available. As the AO Arena looks to a milestone year, opening The Mezz in March, this new partnership with Simon, Tom and the UMBEL Restaurant Group will no doubt take it to the next level.”

The other upgrades include improved acoustics and sound, and “industry-leading” heating and ventilation systems, along with enhanced security with the addition of a new state-of-the-art control room.

Welcoming over one million people to the venue each year, the AO Arena has hosted concerts by the likes of Prince (American singer-songwriter and musician), Elton John (British singer and pianist), New Order (English rock band), The Rolling Stones (English rock band), Dua Lipa (Albanian singer and songwriter), and several others over the past three decades.

The AO Arena is set to face competition in the City from the Oak View Group’s (OVG’s) new East Manchester development the 23,500-capacity Co-op Live, which is scheduled to open this April.

Concluded Bray, “I think we’re really well-prepared, we’re a powerhouse. It’s the music capital of the world and there’s enough content to be delivered in two arenas here. I’ve been around the City here for two years since moving into this role and seen nothing but growth in this City in that time and it’s an amazing, vibrant place. Competition is good, it raises our game and it’s great for all of the fans who are coming through the doors as well, so we’re both really well-placed for that.”

The Oak View Group, LLC is an American professional sports and commercial real estate company based in Los Angeles. It manages several sports venues, including the 18,300-capacity Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle, Washington, which was constructed under the company’s supervision.

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