In-a-soup Co-op Live Arena top gun quits


Co-op Live arena issues new renderings Image: Co-op Live

The General Manager of Manchester’s (UK) troubled Co-op Live Arena has resigned after a series of problems and delays.

‘BBC’ stated that Gary Roden has quit his role days after comedian Peter Kay’s opening shows were canceled this week, as the £365m venue was not ready on time.

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, 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.

‘BBC’ further stated that some tickets for the arena’s first test event on April 20th were also canceled at the last minute to reduce capacity.

There was also a backlash over Roden’s comments that some small music venues were “poorly run”.

A statement from the arena said that it did not “share the sentiment” expressed by Roden and that the “Co-op Live remains committed to grassroots music in Manchester and beyond”.

The statement thanked Roden for his “help bringing the United Kingdom’s newest arena to the live entertainment fans and wish him the best for the future” and said Rebecca Kane Burton, an ex-boss of London’s 20,000-capacity O2 Arena, would be the interim General Manager.

Ahead of its grand opening shows, Roden told he acknowledged the financial pressures the grassroots venues were facing but added there was no robust system to decide who would get a suggested subsidy of £1 from every arena ticket to support the pubs and clubs, which the Music Venue Trust (MVT) is calling for.

He questioned, “Why is a small venue failing. Absolutely, en masse bills are going up and this, that and the other. But ultimately, if there are 1,000 venues, one of them are going to be the best-run venue and one of them is going to be the poorly-run venue, and where does the money go?”

Instead, Roden said the new arena would give £1m a year to the Co-op Foundation charity, which helps a range of causes, and would work with the smaller venues on projects like training.

He added, “If the conversation stops being ‘Give me a quid’ and quite aggressive – if it changed to be, ‘What can we do together to help?’, that’s where I think we start to get into that apprenticeship conversation and all those different things that we want to work through.”

The Music Venue Trust is a United Kingdom registered charitable organization which aims to protect, secure and improve the grassroots music venues in the United Kingdom.

In response, the MVT said that the grassroots music venues were not “poorly run”, and it was “disrespectful and disingenuous to suggest otherwise”, pointing out “insurmountable and highly specialist challenges” they faced.

It added, “Obviously, the irony of making ill-judged, unnecessary and misleading comments about the grassroots music venues on the day that the launch of their new arena has unfortunately fallen into such difficulties is not lost on anyone in the music industry, on the artistes, or on the audiences.”

Peter Kay was due to perform the first official events at the arena but it said work on its power supply was “a few days behind” schedule.

The comic’s performances were rescheduled for April 29th and April 30th.

The venue, which will hold up to 23,500 people when fully open, apologized as Kay admitted to being “truly gutted” for the disappointment.

Kay added at the time that “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.”

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