Co-op Live face tech music; acts move to AO



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Take That concerts moved from Co-op Live to AO Arena Image: Manchester Arena, G-13114, CC BY-SA 4.0

The English pop group ‘Take That’ have become the latest act to move shows from the troubled Co-op Live Arena in Manchester, England (UK) amid a series of “technical issues”.

‘BBC’ stated that the rival venue the AO Arena in Manchester confirmed it would now host the band’s five dates next week amid 24 hours of chaos for Manchester’s new £365m venue – the Co-op Live Arena.

In a new statement, the Co-op Live Arena said it would be taking a “short pause” and would welcome members of the public to the arena from May 14th.

It said it was taking a break to “ensure the safety and security of the fans and artistes visiting the venue”.

The ‘Take That’ are an English pop group formed in Manchester (UK) in 1990. The group currently consists of Gary Barlow, Howard Donald and Mark Owen. The original lineup also featured Jason Orange and Robbie Williams.

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 Manchester Arena (currently known as the AO Arena for sponsorship reasons) is an indoor arena in Manchester, England (UK), immediately North of the City Center and partly above the Manchester Victoria Station in air rights space. Prior to the Co-op Live, the arena had the highest seating capacity of any indoor venue in the United Kingdom and is the fourth-largest in Europe with a capacity of 21,000.

‘BBC’ further stated that the American rapper and singer A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie also earlier announced a switch to the AO Arena and the band Keane (English alternative rock band from Battle, East Sussex, UK) canceled a show.

The American singer-songwriter and actor Popstar Olivia Rodrigo also had a forthcoming concert canceled.

The Oak View Group (OVG), which owns the arena, has blamed defects with parts of its ventilation system for the cancellations.

The Oak View Group (OVG), 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.

Posting on X, ‘Take That’ said, “This is not a decision we have taken lightly, but we wanted to give our fans as much notice as possible.”

On May 1st, hundreds of fans who went to the A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie gig found out that the show had been axed as they queued up outside.

Signs that all was not well at the new arena emerged when it first canceled what were supposed to be its inaugural act, a gig by the English comedian Peter Kay.

According to the company, a nozzle used in the building’s ventilation system became detached during a sound-check because of what it believed was a “factory defect”.

When the staff could not guarantee that the other components were free of similar defects, the OVG said it was left with no choice but to cancel.
 

Analysis

The above ‘Take That’ announcement comes after a succession of highly embarrassing postponements and problems for the Co-op Live Arena.

But losing a residency by one of Britain’s biggest bands – and the local heroes – to its rival venue will arguably be seen as the biggest humiliation of the lot.

In March, the Co-op Live General Manager Gary Roden – who has since resigned because of all the issues – spoke dismissively about the AO Arena, saying the music stars would prefer to play at his newer venue – “It’s going to be difficult for an artiste to say, ‘Yeah, I’ve booked the arena that is 30 years old versus the arena that’s brand- new’.”

But, now the stars are turning back to the tried-and-trusted AO Arena, which has been operating under a variety of names since 1995.

The Co-op Live said it was working “incredibly hard” to get the venue up and running for what remains of its opening season.

The statement continued, “We are aware our actions have frustrated and angered the ticket holders. We know you’ve incurred significant disruption and are finding a way to help make it right.”

Fans left in the lurch by the May 1st last-minute cancellation expressed concern about the future events at the arena, which is now the United Kingdom’s largest.

Yasin, 20, said he paid £25 for parking and arrived at the venue only to be handed a piece of paper saying the A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie gig was off.

He said, “I’m thinking, is this real? Why isn’t it online? It was very unprofessional, I couldn’t believe it almost, like is this the way we’re finding out that it’s been canceled? It makes me question the future events, if they’re going to be planned properly or if it’s going to be organized enough.”

The Co-operative Group, which is the naming rights sponsor for the venue, said it was “disappointed” by the further schedule changes.

A spokesman said, “The Co-op is a sponsor and does not own or run the venue, and we have made it clear to the Oak View Group (OVG) who are responsible for the building, that the impact on the ticketholders must be addressed as a priority. We are pleased that they will shortly be putting plans in place to do so.”

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 AO Arena’s General Manager Jen Mitchell said it was “great” to be welcoming ‘Take That’ to the venue “for five nights in the heart of this wonderful City”.

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