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Plans unveiled for £350m, 23,500-cap. Manchester arena

OVG is moving ahead with its plans for a Manchester Arena-rivalling venue in Britain's second city, with the UK's new biggest arena forecast to open as early as 2023

By Jon Chapple on 27 Feb 2020

An artist's impression of the new arena, as seen from the south-east

An artist's impression of the new arena, as seen from the south-east

Following months of feasibility studies begun in August 2019, Oak View Group (OVG) has confirmed it plans to bring forward a planning application for a new arena in Manchester, in northern England.

With a capacity of up to 23,500, the venue – to be located on the Etihad Campus, the site of Manchester City FC’s Etihad Stadium in Eastlands, east Manchester – would be, by some way, the largest indoor arena in the UK, and go head to head with the city-centre Manchester Arena (21,000-cap.), operated by rival ASM Global.

It would also be the most expensive – the £350 million in private investment funding the project is the most ever spent on an arena in the UK or Europe, says OVG. The new arena would support over 1,000 jobs once it is up and running, and 3,500 during the construction phase.

“We came to Manchester knowing that we needed to develop our proposals in a way that would support the needs and priorities of the entire city and deliver a venue that would enable Manchester to thrive in an evolving entertainment market,” says Tim Leiweke, co-founder and chief executive of Oak View Group. “Through extensive community and city centre consultations, we have understood the local priorities and vision that is transforming Eastlands, along with the ambitions that underpin Manchester’s development as a thriving place to live and visit.

“Our new venue … would place Manchester on the global entertainment map for decades to come”

“Our new venue would attract a wider range of the world’s most exciting events and create thousands of skilled jobs, genuine community opportunities, and significant economic benefits. It would place Manchester on the global entertainment map for decades to come.”

Oak View Group, a venue development, advisory and investment company co-founded by former AEG CEO Leiweke and ex-Live Nation chairman Irving Azoff, launched its London-based overseas division, OVG International, at ILMC 31 last March. The first OVG International project, Santa Giulia Arena in Milan, was announced in June.

OVG’s European Arenas Association-rivalling International Venue Alliance, meanwhile, counts Dusseldorf’s D.Live, Birmingham’s NEC Group and Ascot Racecourse and Silverstone Circuit among its first members.

The venue will have an interior bowl that "brings artists and fans closer together than ever before"

According to OVG, its proposals focus on “five key elements” that bring its “vision of a world-class, next-generation venue to Manchester”:

  • Community: Local people have been involved in shaping the new arena from the very beginning, and OVG has a strong commitment to local employment, training schemes, and working with local partners to provide community activity space outside regular events
  • Proximity: The venue will have an interior bowl (pictured) that brings artists and fans closer together than ever before, and transportation to and from the venue will be both convenient and sustainable
  • Inclusivity: Design features for audiences and performers with additional needs have been built in from the start, with the project aspiring for Attitude is Everything Gold status
  • Flexibility: While focused and designed for music, the venue is a fully flexible and versatile entertainment space for different types of events with the potential to attract a wide range of impressive world-renowned live events to the city, such as ATP tennis, NBA and NHL international games and major awards events
  • Experience: Alongside the development of cutting-edge audio and visual technology, OVG will work with several world-leading content partners to bring unrivalled experiences and the world’s biggest and most exciting events to Manchester

Meanwhile, an energy-efficient design featuring ‘low-carbon technologies’ and waste reduction measures would make it one of the most sustainable venues in the UK, in line with Manchester’s Zero Carbon 2038 strategy.

“We appreciate the significance of our proposals for the entire city,” continues Leiweke. “We will present our full analysis of the Manchester opportunity along with our plans and are committed to engaging in dialogue and scrutiny throughout the planning process to ensure a second arena is a win-win for the city.”

OVG plans to submit a planning application in the coming weeks. Subject to successful planning approval, the company envisages the venue would take three years to build, with the first events planned to be held in 2023.


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