Co-op Live Arena go-to-the-mat opening issues


Co-op Live Arena will open April 23rd Image: Co-op Live

The saga over the launch of United Kingdom’s largest arena – the Co-op Live in Manchester – continues to rumble on after its opening was again delayed, with more shows postponed.

‘IQ’ stated that the May 1st performance by the American rapper and singer A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie at the 23,500-capacity Co-op Live Arena in Manchester (UK) was axed for “technical reasons” 10 minutes before the doors had been due to open, while the two nights with the US superstar Olivia Rodrigo (singer-songwriter and actor), set for this weekend, have also now been called off.

The 23,500-capacity Co-op Live is an indoor arena in Manchester, England (UK) sited in the Etihad Campus next to the 53,400-capacity City of Manchester Stadium. Originally due to open on April 23rd, 2024, whose opening has subsequently been canceled for the third time – from April 23rd it was pushed to April 29th and then again to May 1st – but the venue did not open its doors on May 1st too – it is planned to have the largest maximum capacity (as seats plus standing spaces) of any indoor arena in the United Kingdom, greater than the existing 21,000-capacity Manchester Arena, which is less than two miles (3.2 km) away. As of 2022, the estimated cost of the scheme is £365 million.

The venue operator Oak View Group (OVG) said the fault was caused by a “factory defect” with a nozzle used to direct air, but the staff was unable to verify that the problem was limited to only one nozzle.

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

The £365 million arena’s official launch with comedian Peter Kay was initially pushed back due to a delay in completion of the power supply at the site, days after its capacity for a free test performance by the English singer Rick Astley was cut from 11,000 to 4,000 at short notice. A 10,000-cap test event with The Black Keys (American rock duo) has also been rescheduled.

‘IQ’ further stated that the venue acknowledged it needed “to reassure the fans over future shows”, but did not rule out further cancellations.

A statement read, “We are working with artiste management and promoters to limit the impact on the opening season schedule. Where necessary, we will identify the alternate dates, and will continually reassess to provide fans with sufficient notice regarding the imminent shows. Should the shows be canceled or rescheduled, the fans will be contacted by their point of purchase (POP) and will be offered a full refund where preferred.”

Averred Tim Leiweke, OVG chief, “The safety and security of all visiting and working on Co-op Live is our utmost priority, and we could not and will not run any event until it is absolutely safe to do so. Today (May 1st) was a much unexpected situation but without a doubt the right decision.”

The venue sponsor the Co-operative Group says it will be seeking a “full explanation” from the OVG – “We are relieved that no one has been injured, but we share the disappointment and frustration of the ticket holders, many of whom are the Co-op members, with the continuing delay in the opening of the Co-op Live and the disruption that this is causing to everyone who has been looking forward to attending the events. We will be seeking a full explanation from the Oak View Group, who is responsible for the building, to the obvious questions arising from this, together with a clear plan from the Co-op Live venue management team at the OVG for opening the venue and the postponed and future events.”

Manchester (UK)-based the Co-operative Group Limited, trading as the Co-op and formerly known as the Co-operative Wholesale Society, is a British consumer co-operative with a group of retail businesses, including grocery retail and wholesale, legal services, funerals and insurance, and social enterprise.

The venue management veteran Rebecca Kane Burton was drafted in as the interim boss of Co-op Live recently following the resignation of the General Manager Gary Roden.

The Isle of Wight festival (British music festival) promoter and the Solo Music Agency (London-based agency representing the artistes for the United Kingdom and international touring) Managing Director (MD) John Giddings suggested the early hitches will be forgotten after the arena gets out of the starting block – “I think it’s a minor hiccup because it’s a huge operation. Once they’ve got a few gigs under their belt, everybody will start forgetting about it.”

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