Co-Op Live pennies from heaven for Manchester


Manchester construction starts at Co-op Live arena Image: BAM

Following extensive enabling works since the beginning of the year, construction of United Kingdom’s largest entertainment arena in Manchester got rolling recently, kickstarting a wave of economic activity and job creation across Greater Manchester. Co-op Live is being built by Salford (UK)-based BAM Construction, who has revealed that almost £150 million of the construction orders have already been placed with the local firms.

‘bam’ stated that OVG, the developer, is investing over £350 million to create one of the best and most sustainable live entertainment arenas in Europe. The construction project is one of the biggest to commence nationally since the onset of COVID-19 and will provide a much-needed boost to the local construction industry at a critical time for economic recovery as the pandemic has decimated the same.

Oak View Group (OVG) and the Co-op are joining forces to develop the UK’s biggest and most exciting new arena in Manchester – with the project injecting £350m of private investment into the local area. Co-op Live will be one of the world’s premier music and entertainment venues, rivaling New York’s 20,789-capacity Madison Square Garden, the 17,505-capacity The Forum in Los Angeles (US) and The O2 in London. Plans for the arena were given the green light by the Manchester City Council on September 24th.

BAM Construction North West is behind many iconic structures for the region, such as the new Manchester City Football Academy, the Co-operative Group’s headquarters, One Angel Square, and the National Graphene Institute, among others. For over 150 years Royal BAM Group, of which it is part, has been a leader in innovation such as 3D printing and digital construction and in collaborative construction to achieve highly sustainable structures based on the needs of the people who use them.

Axel Eichholtz, General Manager, BAM Sports GmbH, Germany is a Member of Coliseum – Global Sports Venue Alliance.

‘bam’ further stated that the move will create 3,350 construction jobs and 1,000 roles and apprenticeships on completion of the venue. The arena, named Co-op Live, will sit on the Etihad Campus and will continue the regeneration of the Eastlands area started by the 2002 Commonwealth Games. The construction project, the single-largest in the City, will give the regional economy a much-needed boost following the devastating impacts of the COVID pandemic and will give a shot in the arm to the local economy by over £1.5 billion over the next 20 years.

At its peak, Co-op Live’s construction site will see some 400 people working on it daily. BAM estimates that more than 2,000 people will work on the site over its three-year construction phase, comprising the majority of the 3,350 total jobs the project will support from now to 2023.

OVG have forecast that Co-op Live will generate a further 1,000 jobs when operational. The team behind Co-op Live are committed to local procurement, and a range of businesses across Greater Manchester and the wider North West region are being used to help create the venue, with a dozen firms for the region already engaged in the project.

Nine thousand tons of steelwork will be provided from a depot in Bolton, while a huge order for mechanical and electrical works has been placed with a firm based at Altrincham Road in Manchester, SES. The striking façade and roof are being delivered by a firm in Cheadle.

Other services that will be provided by local companies include concrete, grouting and lifts, plus smaller contracts for hoardings, welfare, catering, and security.

An impressive apprenticeships program is set to be announced as the construction program accelerates. Inclusion and diversity are embedded into BAM’s workforce goals, around gender parity, and diversity (as an example at least 15 percent of employees from ethnic minority backgrounds), at least five percent of employees who identify as LGBTQ+ and employees who live with disabilities are appropriately supported.

Tim Leiweke, Chief Executive OVG, stated, “The beginning of the construction of Co-op Live is an exciting step in our plans to deliver one of Europe’s best and most sustainable arenas for Manchester. Co-op Live is an arena by Manchester, for Manchester, and of Manchester. Since revealing our plans last year, we have remained committed to maximizing the benefits it brings to the City and the whole North-West. Today’s milestone of £150m in orders for local firms is a proud moment for the project and will help support local jobs and ensure the positive impact of our investment is being felt already.”

Robert Doherty, Operations Director for SES (Engineering Services) Strategic Projects, which is delivering the full Mechanical and Electrical works for the scheme, said, “As a local contractor our team mainly live and work in and around Manchester and this project has a real buzz about it. It has got everyone here excited and it is terrific for us to be involved. We are engaging with our own supply chain ensuring that packages are delivered by companies from the Manchester area. We will have over 100 people working on this project, creating opportunities for local people to be involved.”

Work has started, with millions of pounds of bulk excavation and remediation work underway that will provide work for the region’s hauliers and plant companies.

Ian Fleming, Director of BAM Construction in the North West, said, “The highly digital way we work allows us to achieve the sustainability demanded by the most ambitious clients in the world and it attracts young entrants to our profession like Arooj Ali. Working smarter means working safer for those 2,000 people that will cross our boundary and using technology and techniques like offsite manufacturing. We rely on the quality of our supply chain here in the North West and how well we work with them to integrate all these elements together. Greater Manchester has got the talent and resources we need, and it means BAM’s work here for this Northern landmark will boost the local economy and bring big social benefits for people living here, all of which is a source of great pride to me.”

BAM’s first apprentice on site is Arooj Ali, a construction trainee apprentice, who said, “I’m eager to be working with BAM on this incredible project and aim to help inspire other young people to enter the industry. I would like to especially encourage ethnic minorities to join, even if they haven’t previously considered doing so. Construction is forever evolving, and we are always faced with new, exciting challenges where no two days are the same. Living in the Preston area, people are always talking about the new arena, and hearing about a project that I’ve played a part in creating, has been a brilliant way to continue my career in the construction industry. We’re all excited about the return of live music and events, so being able to hopefully attend these in a new, state of the art venue will be a really rewarding experience!”

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