Co-op Live opening on ice over power issues



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Co-op Live Arena postpones opening date Image: Co-op Live

The United Kingdom’s (UK’s) largest and newest arena – the Co-op Live Arena in Manchester – has postponed its opening night with just 24 hours notice after work failed to finish on time. The opening day has been pushed back by one week following a preview show that saw a number of tickets canceled hours before it was due to start leaving fans fuming.

‘itvX’ stated that the Bolton-comedian Peter Kay was due to perform two shows at the 23,500-capacity Co-op Live Arena in Manchester (UK) on April 23rd and April 24th.

The gigs have been canceled with less than a day to go after a test event on April 20th found issues with the power supply in certain parts of the venue.

Those shows have now been moved to the following week – April 29th and April 30th – to give operators “the extra time we need to continue testing” the building’s infrastructure and power supply, according to a venue spokesperson. Now, Peter Kay will perform on the above dates.

Moreover, after reducing the capacity at the test event on April 20th from 11,000 to seven thousand which left fans high and dry, the opening date too is now postponed by a week.

The 23,500-capacity Co-op Live is an indoor arena in Manchester, England (UK). It is planned to have the largest maximum capacity of any indoor arena in the United Kingdom, greater than the existing 21,000-capacity Manchester Arena in Manchester, England, which is less than two miles away. As of 2022, the estimated cost of the scheme is £365 million. The facility which was scheduled to open on April 23rd is now due to open on April 29th.

Peter Kay is an English comedian, actor, writer, and director who were born in Bolton, Lancashire (UK). He has created memorable comedy shows such as ‘Phoenix Nights’ and ‘Peter Kay’s Car Share’, and has also had huge stand-up tours. Kay has sold more than 10 million DVDs and has a UK chart number one to his name.

‘itvX’ further stated that the highly-anticipated show was set to act as the grand opening for the City’s flagship new venue, the largest in the United Kingdom.

But just the day before, it has been announced that both the shows have been canceled with work not yet complete on the Eastlands venue.

The Council’s building control is also yet to sign the building off.
 

What this means for the ticket holders:

  • All tickets will remain valid for the rescheduled performances;
  • The ticket providers will be getting in touch with the customers with details;
  • For those who now cannot attend, a full refund will be available; and
  • It has not yet been confirmed whether the pre-booked parking will carry over, or if the customers will have to rebook.

 
Put in Peter Kay, “I’m truly gutted as I know how disappointing this will be for everyone with tickets, but obviously it’s a brand-new venue and it’s important that everything is finished and safe for full capacity audiences. Fortunately, we’ve been able to reschedule the shows to next week, (I’ll have to miss my Bums & Tums class [group exercise]) but hopefully I’ll see you then.”

The Black Keys’ (American rock duo) performance on April 27th is still scheduled to go ahead.

In a statement, a spokesperson for Co-op Live said, “Following our first test event on April 20th, regretfully we have made the difficult decision to reschedule our two opening performances by Peter Kay. It is critical to ensure we have a consistent total power supply to our fully electric sustainable venue, the completion of which is a few days behind. Rescheduling gives us the extra time we need to continue testing thoroughly. This is vital to satisfy the rigorous set of guidelines and protocols that are necessary for a venue of this size. Peter Kay has very graciously agreed to perform his record-breaking comedy at the Co-op Live on April 29th (rescheduled from April 23rd) and April 30th (rescheduled from April 24th) 2024.”

The spokesperson added, “We are very sorry for the inconvenience that this change will undoubtedly cause for some. We are thrilled to welcome Peter Kay as our grand opening act just a few days later than planned.”

A spokesman for the Manchester City Council said the decision to postpone the shows was one made entirely by the venue.

It is understood a practical completion certificate has not been issued by the authority’s Building Control Department because there are elements of the building which have not yet been completed, however, that would not prevent the venue from operating.

The Council spokesman said, “We respect the decision by Co-op Live to rearrange their first public events at the new arena. Although no doubt disappointing for both the venue and those who were attending the first shows this week, it is the right decision if they feel the venue is not ready to welcome the visitors and their systems aren’t fully tested. The Council will continue to work closely with the venue as they push to complete the arena and prepare to host their first official shows.”
 

Fuming Fans

Earlier, ‘The Guardian’ stated that thousands of people due to attend the first event at the United Kingdom’s biggest indoor arena – the Co-op Live Arena – had their tickets canceled at the last minute on April 20th.

English singer Rick Astley took to the stage at the new 23,500-capacity Co-op Live Arena to perform to 11,000 arena workers, VIPs and Press at a free test event.

However, it is thought as many as 4,000 tickets were canceled, some just one hour before the show, leaving people “fuming”.

One gig-goer, Byron Edwards, posted on X, “Invitational tickets to the test event tonight canceled just 90 minutes before doors open. What kind of shit show is this?”

Alison Stafford-Bentley said, “Thanks for canceling tickets for tonight less than an hour before event is due to start. Absolutely fuming.”

The other teething problems included long queues for food, rows of seats not being ready and problems moving the crowds around the venue.

A Co-op Live spokesperson informed, “We’re busy putting the finishing touches on Co-op Live, and we are looking forward to Co-op Live becoming the pre-eminent arena in the United Kingdom upon opening. As a part of the opening process, we are in the midst of an extensive protocol of testing critical procedures. To enable us to test the spaces effectively, we have made the difficult decision to reduce the overall capacity for today’s test event. We apologise to the affected guests and look forward to welcoming them to the Black Keys.”

‘The Guardian’ further stated that Take That (English pop group), The Killers (American rock band), Eric Clapton (English guitarist and singer-songwriter), Barry Manilow (American singer-songwriter), and Olivia Rodrigo (American singer-songwriter and actor) are all due to perform in the coming weeks, with plans to hold the MTV Europe Music Awards there in November.

Construction began in 2021 on the new venue, which is financed by the City Football Group (CFG) – owned by the billionaire Emirati Royal Sheikh Mansour – and the US sports and commercial real estate giant Oak View Group (OVG).

Manchester (UK)-based the City Football Group Limited is a holding company that administers the association football clubs. The group is owned by three organizations, of which 81 percent is majority-owned by the Abu Dhabi United Group, 18 percent by the American firm Silver Lake and one percent by the Chinese firms China Media Capital and CITIC Capital.

Denver-based the Oak View Group (OVG) is a global American company that builds, operates and manages sports venues and commercial real estate. Founded in 2015 by Tim Leiweke and Irving Azoff, the OVG’s mission is to disrupt the sports, live entertainment and hospitality industries.

Harry Styles (English singer), who grew up 30 miles away, has a minor stake and advised on aspects of the design, which features four stacked black boxes with a similarly black interior.

The arena was welcomed by the Manchester Council, its leader, Bev Craig, saying the venue would “deliver a huge boost for our local economy and result in significant commercial and wider benefits for the City”.

However, questions were raised over whether there was a need for another large-scale music venue just two miles from the 21,000-capacity AO Arena in Manchester.

The two venues came to blows during the planning process, when the AO Arena objected numerous times to the Co-op Live proposals, including to what it described as a “simply unlawful” licensing application that would allow the new arena to serve alcohol until 2 am at weekends and 24/7 on 25 occasions every year.

Co-op Live’s lawyers argued it was a “ludicrous and disingenuous” objection at a meeting held at the Manchester Town Hall in February.

Co-op Live also faced criticism from the Music Venue Trust (MVT) for its potential impact on live music in Manchester. The venue had previously “declined” to sign up to a £1-per-ticket levy that funds the MVT’s “pipeline investment fund” for grassroots venues.

London-based the Music Venue Trust (MVT) is a UK registered charitable organization which aims to protect, secure and improve the grassroots music venues in the United Kingdom.

The MVT recently warned of the crisis facing grassroots music and arts venues, telling “the whole ecosystem is collapsing”.

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