Man Arena boss warns against new venue

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Manchester Arena Image: MJR Group Ltd.

Manchester Arena boss has warned that ‘hubristic’ council plans for a massive new entertainment venue near the Etihad Stadium could put the arena out of business, according to media reports.

In a blistering attack on town hall chiefs, John Sharkey, Executive Vice President of European operations at SMG, accused council bosses of having already unofficially agreed the plan behind closed doors in the belief that ‘they know best for Manchester’, Manchester Evening News reported.

Sharkey felt that the city cannot sustain two 20,000-seat arenas, meaning it would ‘only be a matter of time’ before the Manchester Arena went under, taking jobs across the city center with it, the report stated.

His scathing comments come six months after media reports revealed that council chiefs were secretly considering a new indoor arena next to the Etihad.

Earlier, the Manchester Evening News reported how the town hall’s long-term vision for the area around Eastlands is now set to be updated to include exactly such a venue, with a 20,000 capacity – more or less the same as Manchester Arena.

Although the council insists no decisions have been taken, Sharkey said his understanding was that it was already a ‘done deal’, while warning the council had not taken into account the impact that would have on the city center or the existing arena.

“We fully understand the need for Eastlands and the development of Eastlands, but complementary to where the city is going and not conflictual,” the report quoted him as said.

“We think this is an opportunistic move for Eastlands at the expense of Manchester. The big point here is that it’s our – and my – firm belief that there is not a market for two 20,000 capacity venues. We are going to see a council report that says there is, but there isn’t.

“If you look at seats per head of population in Manchester and compare it to Birmingham or London, we are well-served. Invariably, one of these venues is going to fail if you build two. Why not work with the existing one? I think there’s a jeopardy situation if it’s granted strategically,” he argued.

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