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Rival Manchester arena operators in licensing row

A dispute has broken out between rival Manchester arena operators Oak View Group (OVG) and ASM Global over a licensing application for the city’s new Co-op Live venue.

The 23,500-cap development, which is a joint venture between OVG and City Football Group, will become the UK’s largest arena when it launches at Etihad Campus, the site of Manchester City FC’s Etihad Stadium in April.

However, the BBC reports that ASM – operator of Manchester’s longstanding AO Arena (cap. 23,000) – has objected to elements of OVG’s licensing bid, citing its desire to “safeguard public safety and the prevention of public nuisance”.

In written submissions to Manchester City Council’s licensing committee, it argues that Co-op Live should close by midnight at the latest, and not be given the ability to open 24/7, 25 times a year, as requested.

Speaking during the hearing at Manchester Town Hall, OVG COO Mark Donnelly alleged that ASM’s objections were “competition based”.

“We are quite disappointed to see [ASM] are trying to put conditions on us when they operate with an unrestricted licence”

“We are quite disappointed to see [ASM] are trying to put conditions on us when they operate with an unrestricted licence,” he said, as per the Manchester Evening News. “As part of ASM’s objections, we feel these are competition based. We feel there’s very little from a licensing point of view. A lot of transport issues were dealt with at planning and that was approved unanimously.”

Previous complaints from the police, trading standards, seven councillors and three residents were withdrawn following revisions by Co-op Live, but objections from 32 residents, two councillors, the council’s public health team, ASM and the Music Venue Trust (MVT) remain.

Donnelly took a swipe at the MVT, alleging the venue charity’s objection was because Co-op Live had “declined” to support its £1 ticket levy initiative to protect grassroots venues.

The MVT’s Niall Forde rejected the claim as “inflammatory” and “entirely false”, saying it objected to the venue’s “ancillary spaces” (which have a combined capacity of 6,000) could take trade off smaller businesses if they were allowed to stay open later.

The hearing continues.

Stand-up comedian Peter Kay was this week revealed as the opening act for Co-op Live. The comic will open the venue with his current record-breaking tour on 23 April. The 30-year-old AO Arena, meanwhile, recently confirmed that its capacity will rise from 21,000 to 23,000 as a result of a £50 million (€59m) reconstruction

 


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Manchester’s AO Arena to undergo £50m revamp

ASM Global has announced a £50 million plan to transform Manchester’s AO Arena.

The three-year phased development, which will begin this summer, will dramatically enhance the 21,000-cap venue, expanding its infrastructure while adding innovative guest features. Further details will be released in the coming months.

The 27-year-old arena has a string of sell-out concerts lined up for 2022, including Billie Eilish, Dua Lipa, Diana Ross, Alicia Keys, Swedish House Mafia, Snoop Dogg and George Ezra.

“The first phase will enhance and increase our standing floor capacity”

“AO Arena is one of the world’s iconic venues and a much-loved part of Manchester’s rich culture and history,” says Chris Bray, EVP Europe at ASM Global. “It has been delivering world class entertainment experiences for over two decades. As we approach our 30th anniversary, this ambitious endeavour will not only reinforce its position as a leading destination for live entertainment but will extend its market leadership for ‘live’ and fan experiences for the next 30 years, and we’re proud to be further investing into the heart of Manchester.

“The first phase will enhance and increase our standing floor capacity to share this historic arena with even more of our guests and we will also be adding new hospitality lounges and investing in delivering an upgraded concourse experience. Our performers will be immersed in an all-new back of house artists campus, unparalleled anywhere.”

Additional major developments will include brand-new arena entrances, specially tailored premium experiences, custom designed lounges, and new premium seating.

“This will not only elevate the experience for guests and fans, but for everyone who sets foot in the venue”

AO Arena’s back of house will also be upgraded with a complete overhaul of the backstage experience, including new artist dressing rooms and production areas, a “world-class” green room with meet and greet facilities, an overhaul of crew catering, and first-class connectivity and technology.

“This is a really exciting time for the AO Arena,” adds recently appointed general manager Jen Mitchell. “Not only are we able to welcome guests back after a challenging two years, with a programme packed full of world-class acts and entertainment; now we can reveal the first phase of ASM Global’s plans for the arena’s redevelopment. This will not only elevate the experience for guests and fans, but for everyone who sets foot in the venue, including artists, production, crew and our staff who work so hard to make the magic happen right here in Manchester.”

AO Arena is set to face competition in the city from Oak View Group’s new east Manchester development Co-op Live, which is scheduled to open in 2023.

 


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