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Nicki Minaj’s Co-op Live gig axed after drugs arrest

Nicki Minaj’s concert at Manchester’s Co-op Live was called off at the last minute, following her arrest at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport.

The American rapper was arrested on suspicion of exporting soft drugs before being fined €350 and allowed to continue her journey, Dutch authorities said.

The artist didn’t make it to Manchester in time for her concert on Saturday (25 May), which was postponed just after 21:30 BST, with 20,000 fans in the arena waiting for her to take the stage.

On social media, Minaj said she was in a jail cell for between five and six hours, and finally arrived at her hotel in Manchester around midnight.

In a statement, promoters Live Nation said: “Nicki Minaj’s scheduled performance at Manchester’s Co-op Live on Saturday 25 May has been postponed.

“Tickets will remain valid for the rescheduled performance which will be announced as soon as possible.

“Despite Nicki’s best efforts to explore every possible avenue to make tonight’s show happen, the events of today have made it impossible. We are deeply disappointed by the inconvenience this has caused.”

Co-op Live posted the same statement.

Minaj continued her tour in Birmingham last night (26 May) and is due to visit London and Glasgow, before a second scheduled date in Manchester on Thursday.

It is the latest problem to hit the 23,500-cap Co-op Live, which has also been forced to postpone or move gigs by the likes of Olivia Rodrigo, Take That and Peter Kay in recent weeks after suffering a string of delays and technical problems.

The Oak View Group (OVG)-operated arena finally opened on 14 May for an opening performance by Manchester’s Elbow.

Co-op Live’s interim general manager, Rebecca Kane Burton, recently told OVG-owned publication VenuesNow that the venue is “all up and running and fully furnished”.

“We’ve had a natural ramp-up in terms of the capacities we’ve been hosting. Peter Kay was our biggest event (May 23-24). We had between 14,000 and 15,000 people – all of the levels in full use. All suites and premium areas have been working at full-tilt. There’s still work happening within the building, but it tends to be offices and back-of-house areas.”

 


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Elbow show gets Co-op Live up and running

Manchester’s Co-op Live has successfully opened with a hometown concert by rock band Elbow.

The launch of the UK’s largest arena – a joint venture between Oak View Group (OVG) and City Football Group – was pushed back two weeks following a series of hitches, but last night’s belated opening gig passed by without incident.

“It’s been tough,” OVG chief Tim Leiweke told reporters ahead of the event, as per the Guardian. “I’m emotional because this is a big deal and we want to do right by Manchester.

”It’s never easy getting these things built with Brexit and Covid but at the end of the day we’ve built the greatest arena ever built – for Manchester. It’s been tough. I’ve apologised to those [fans] we disrupted… now the building is open and will be for another 30 years.”

”Everybody that’s been working on this building has been so excited today, so nervous but so excited,” Elbow frontman Guy Garvey told the crowd at last night’s (14 May) show. “There was already electricity in the air before you lot got in today and now it’s thoroughly amped up. I hope you can feel it.”

The 23,500-cap Co-op Live was originally set to launch with Peter Kay on 29 April, only for the comedian’s dates to be pushed back due to a delay in completion of the power supply at the site. Days earlier, a free test performance by Rick Astley was only permitted to go ahead at a significantly reduced capacity, while a 10,000-cap test event with the Black Keys was also postponed.

“We were going to take our time to make sure we did this right”

A performance by rapper A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie was then axed for “technical reasons” 10 minutes before doors were due to open on 1 May after part of the air conditioning system at the arena became detached, prompting OVG to announce a “short pause” to events to “allow for an independent inspection of all elements of the arena ceiling”.

“If that was 15 minutes later, something catastrophic could have happened,” said Leiweke, speaking to the BBC. “We [have since] got that double checked and triple checked,” he continued. “We’ve looked at thousands of bolts up in that ceiling now. We’ve looked at the life safety lines. And we were going to take our time to make sure we did this right.”

The A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie performance and five nights with Take That were relocated to the rival AO Arena in Manchester due to the delays, while former boss of The O2, Rebecca Kane Burton, was brought in as interim boss of Co-op Live in late April following the resignation of general manager Gary Roden.

The Black Keys’ postponed show will take place at the venue tonight (15 May), followed by Eric Clapton (18 May), Barry Manilow (19 May), Peter Kay (23-24 May), Nicki Minaj (25 & 30 May) and the Eagles (31 May) set to follow this month.

Other upcoming acts will include Liam Gallagher, The Killers, Stevie Nicks and Pearl Jam.

 


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Co-op Live set to open with Elbow concert

It is all systems go for Manchester’s Co-op Live as the UK’s largest arena finally prepares to open its doors.

Elbow will christen the 23,500-cap venue with a homecoming gig tomorrow (14 May), with shows by the Black Keys (15 May), Eric Clapton (18 May), Barry Manilow (19 May), Peter Kay (23-24 May), Nicki Minaj (25 & 30 May) and the Eagles (31 May) set to follow this month.

“Co-op Live is thrilled to be gearing up to open our doors on 14 May 2024 for an opening performance by Manchester’s Elbow and to proceed with all scheduled events,” says a statement from the Oak View Group (OVG)-operated arena.

The announcement comes on the heels of a turbulent few weeks for the 23,500-cap venue, which was originally set to launch with Peter Kay on 29 April, only for the comedian’s dates to be pushed back due to a delay in completion of the power supply at the site. Days earlier, a free test performance by Rick Astley was only permitted to go ahead at reduced capacity, while a 10,000-cap test event with the Black Keys was also postponed.

A performance by rapper A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie was then axed for “technical reasons” 10 minutes before doors were due to open on 1 May after part of the air conditioning system at the £365 million arena became detached. Two nights with US superstar Olivia Rodrigo, set for 3-4 May, were also called off along with Keane’s 5 May concert, the latter of which has since been rescheduled for 19 October.

“Following the incident in the bowl on 1 May 2024, an inspection and verification report was undertaken by SES subcontractors,” the venue tells the Manchester Evening News. “In consultation with Manchester City Council, responsible authorities, and wider stakeholders, we are satisfied with the process and outcome of the investigation identifying the HVAC nozzle as an isolated manufacturing default. This is a standard process of review in any venue when such an incident occurs.”

“The council has received documentation that confirms that the venue has carried out the necessary investigations”

A statement from the local authority adds: “The council has received documentation that confirms that the venue has carried out the necessary investigations following the incident with their air ducting that provides reassurance that they have considered their duties under health and safety law.”

A Boogie With Da Hoodie’s gig and the first five dates of Take That residency’s relocated to ASM Global’s rival Manchester venue, the 23,000-cap AO Arena. Take That’s remaining Manchester concerts are still due to take place at Co-op Live on 11 & 12 June. Former boss of The O2, Rebecca Kane Burton, was brought in as interim boss of Co-op Live in late April following the resignation of general manager Gary Roden.

“Co-op Live is purpose built for music, showcasing enhanced sightlines and innovative acoustic design for music fans and artists to enjoy a full live entertainment experience,” says the Co-op Live statement. “As so, we are especially disappointed to have delayed our introduction and frustrated so many in the process.

“For all shows rescheduled to take place at Co-op Live, and for those ticket holders of shows next week that have worried about their shows taking place, we want to ensure that all fans have the best possible experience at their long-awaited event.”

People with tickets for rescheduled events will be offered a free drink and a food voucher when they attend the venue.

“Since our first postponement on 23 April 2024, we have remained strongly committed to ensuring all events are rescheduled and returned to Manchester”

“Whilst we know this won’t erase the inconvenience and upset caused by the original postponements, we hope it will help everyone have the best possible time on the night,” adds Co-op Live. “Since our first postponement on 23 April 2024, we have remained strongly committed to ensuring all events are rescheduled and returned to Manchester, allowing as many fans as possible to experience their favourite artists. We deeply appreciate the cooperation and hard work of ticketing agents, promoters and artists to make this a reality.

“Collaboratively working hard behind the scenes, we are happy to have rescheduled all shows to the city, and we continue to work with Olivia Rodrigo and team to secure new dates. We will update ticket holders to those events as soon as possible.”

Elsewhere in Manchester, the O2 Victoria Warehouse was forced to postpone last night’s (12 May) show by PVRIS at short notice due to “unforeseen circumstances” in the midst of heavy storms in the city. Posting on Instagram Stories, the band said the cancellation was due to “a massive leak” in the 3,500-cap venue’s ceiling.

“We are so sorry to have the cancel the show tonight due to a massive leak in the venue’s ceiling causing flooding right before doors,” they said. “We’ve tried everything we could to find an alternative to still perform for you all tonight but due to circumstances beyond our control there is unfortunately no options for the show to go ahead.”

 


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OVG sets revised Co-op Live opening date

Oak View Group (OVG) chief Tim Leiweke has offered his “sincere apologies” for the catalogue of delays to have hit the company’s Co-op Live venue – and shared a revised timetable for the £365 million development’s launch.

The 23,500-cap Manchester arena has announced a “short pause” to events to “allow for an independent inspection of all elements of the arena ceiling”, with Elbow’s 14 May show currently set to be the next to go ahead.

The move follows the cancellation of A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie’s 1 May concert for “technical reasons”, just 10 minutes before doors had been due to open, compounded by the earlier postponement of launch shows by Peter Kay and The Black Keys. Capacity for a free test performance by Rick Astley also had to be cut from 11,000 to 4,000 at short notice.

OVG blamed a defect with a component of Co-op Live’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system for the cancellations.

“At this time, we do not expect further impact on our opening season,” says an OVG statement. “We are aware our actions have frustrated and angered ticketholders. We know you’ve incurred significant disruption and are finding a way to help make it right. We are taking the pause to think about the best ways to do that.

“Our naming rights partner, the Co-op Group, has also expressed the importance of ensuring that the significant impact on ticketholders is recognised and addressed, with more detail to follow soon.”

“On behalf of all of us at Oak View Group, I’d like to express my sincere apologies to all those that have been affected”

Axed dates with Olivia Rodrigo (3-4 May) and Keane (5 May) are still to be rescheduled, while A Boogie With Da Hoodie’s performance and the first five dates of Take That’s residency are relocating to ASM Global’s rival Manchester venue, the 23,000-cap AO Arena, on 4 May and 7-12 May, respectively.

“It wouldn’t be a Take That tour without a stop-off in Manchester, so it’s great to welcome the band and their fans back to AO Arena for five nights, in the heart of this wonderful city,” says AO Arena general manager Jen Mitchell.

Singer Barry Manilow has also revealed on social media that Kennedy Street Enterprises’ Danny Betesh, co-promoter of his 19 May concert at Co-op Live, has reserved the AO Arena for the same night as a “back-up plan”.

Former boss of The O2, Rebecca Kane Burton, was drafted in as interim boss of Co-op Live last week following the resignation of general manager Gary Roden.

“As many of you will know, it’s not been the smooth start we had planned for, and I know that has caused a huge amount of disruption and frustration to thousands of people,” says Leiweke. “On behalf of all of us at Oak View Group, I’d like to express my sincere apologies to all those that have been affected. We understand that there is work to be done to rebuild your trust in us. This starts now and at the request of the naming rights partner, The Co-Op Group, we will be addressing impact on affected ticket holders, details of which will be shared soon.

“I’d like to reiterate my sincerest apologises to everyone that has been affected by the delays around the opening of Co-Op Live. The team here is working incredibly hard to get the building up and running, and we look forward to welcoming you to the arena from 14 May 2024.”

 


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Co-op Live opening postponed for third time

The saga over the launch of the UK’s largest arena continues to rumble on after its opening was again delayed, with more shows postponed.

Last night’s (1 May) performance by rapper A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie at the 23,500-cap Co-op Live in Manchester was axed for “technical reasons” 10 minutes before doors had been due to open, while two nights with US superstar Olivia Rodrigo, set for 3-4 May, have also now been called off along with Keane’s concert on 5 May.

Venue operator Oak View Group (OVG) told the BBC the fault was caused by a “factory defect” with a nozzle used to direct air, but staff were unable to verify that the problem was limited to only one nozzle. A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie has since announced that his show has been rescheduled to take place at the AO Arena in Manchester this Saturday (4 May). The first five dates of Take That’s residency from 7-12 May are also relocating to the rival venue.

The £365 million Co-op Live’s official launch with comedian Peter Kay was initially pushed back due to a delay in completion of the power supply at the site, days after its capacity for a free test performance by Rick Astley was cut from 11,000 to 4,000 at short notice. A 10,000-cap test event with the Black Keys has also been moved.

The venue acknowledged it needed “to reassure fans over future shows”, but did not rule out further cancellations.

“We are working with artist management and promoters to limit the impact on the opening season schedule,” says a statement. “Where necessary, we will identify alternate dates, and will continually reassess to provide fans with sufficient notice regarding imminent shows.

“Should shows be cancelled or rescheduled, fans will be contacted by their point of purchase and offered a full refund where preferred.”

“We could not and will not run any event until it is absolutely safe to do so”

OVG chief Tim Leiweke said: “The safety and security of all visiting and working on Co-op Live is our utmost priority, and we could not and will not run any event until it is absolutely safe to do so. Today was a very unexpected situation but without a doubt the right decision.”

Venue sponsor the Co-operative Group says it will be seeking a “full explanation” from OVG.

“We are relieved that no-one has been injured, but we share the disappointment and frustration of ticket holders, many of whom are Co-op members, with the continuing delay to the opening of Co-op Live and the disruption that this is causing to everyone who has been looking forward to attending events.

“We will be seeking a full explanation from Oak View Group, who are responsible for the building, to the obvious questions arising from this, together with a clear plan from the Co-op Live venue management team at OVG for opening the venue and postponed and future events.”

The arena’s next slate of bookings currently features Elbow (14 May), the Black Keys (15 May), Eric Clapton (18 May), Barry Manilow (19 May), Peter Kay (23-24 May), Nicki Minaj (25 & 30 May) and the Eagles (31 May).

Venue management veteran Rebecca Kane Burton was drafted in as interim boss of Co-op Live last week following the resignation of general manager Gary Roden.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Saturday, Isle of Wight festival promoter and Solo Agency MD John Giddings suggested the early hitches will be forgotten after the arena gets out of the starting block.

“I think it’s a minor hiccup because it’s a huge operation,” he said. “Once they’ve got a few gigs under their belt, everybody will start forgetting about it.”

 


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Rebecca Kane Burton in at Co-op Live as GM resigns

Venue management veteran Rebecca Kane Burton has been named interim boss of Manchester’s Co-op Live following the resignation of general manager Gary Roden.

Kane Burton served a near five-year stint as VP and GM of The O2 in London before stepping down in 2016 to become chief executive of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s West End venue chain LW Theatres until departing in 2021.

Prior to The O2, Kane Burton was MD of the 10,400-cap Alexandra Palace, also in London, and previously held a senior role at English Heritage. She was appointed UK & Ireland CEO of venue services company Sodexo Live! in 2022.

Roden’s exit from the 23,500-cap Co-op Live – a joint venture between Oak View Group (OVG) and City Football Group (CFG) – was confirmed last night (25 April) in the midst of a turbulent week for the UK’s largest live entertainment arena, which has been forced to postpone its opening for a second time.

The £365 million venue’s official launch was pushed back due to a delay in completion of the power supply at the site, days after its capacity for a free test performance by Rick Astley was cut from 11,000 to 4,000 at short notice.

Its grand opening with two shows by comedian Peter Kay, originally slated for this week, has now been switched to 23-24 May, while a 10,000-cap test event with the Black Keys set for tomorrow (27 April) will instead take place on 15 May.

“Rescheduling The Black Keys and Peter Kay gives the dedicated team the time and space needed to finalise systems and measures”

“It’s always been very important to me that we only open Co-op Live when it is safe and appropriate to do so, and rescheduling The Black Keys and Peter Kay gives the dedicated team the time and space needed to finalise systems and measures,” says OVG chair and CEO Tim Leiweke. “I would like to offer my sincerest apologies to every fan that has been impacted by this decision and others this week, and join the full team in thanking them for their continued patience and support as we prepare to open our doors.”

Roden’s recent comments to the BBC that some small music venues were “poorly run”, in response to the Music Venue Trust’s (MVT) calls for a compulsory £1 levy on tickets sold for UK live music events above 5,000-cap, also caused controversy.

“Why is a small venue failing?” he said. “Absolutely, en masse bills are going up and this, that and the other. But ultimately if there are 1,000 venues, one of them is 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?

“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.”

MVT chief Mark Davyd criticised the remarks as “disrespectful and disingenuous”.

“The UK’s grassroots music venues are not ‘poorly run’, and it is disrespectful and disingenuous to suggest otherwise,” he told NME. “This is a highly skilled and experienced sector facing almost insurmountable and highly specialist challenges.”

“Neither Co-op Live nor Oak View Group share the sentiment expressed by former Co-op Live general manager Gary Roden regarding the grassroots industry”

Roden’s exit comes almost a year to the day since he joined Co-op Live as GM and executive director. He previously spent over eight years at Ticketmaster UK, latterly as SVP of client development and commercial.

OVG International president Jessica Koravos says Roden has “decided to resign” and the company remains “focused on opening Co-op Live”.

“We’d like to thank Gary for his help bringing the UK’s newest arena to live entertainment fans and wish him the best for the future,” she says. “Rebecca Kane Burton has been named interim GM, effective today. Rebecca is a seasoned veteran of venue management and live entertainment in the UK having served as VP/GM of The O2 from 2012-2016 and CEO of LW Theatres from 2016-2021.

“Neither Co-op Live nor Oak View Group share the sentiment expressed by former Co-op Live general manager Gary Roden regarding the grassroots industry. As OVG chairman and CEO Tim Leiweke has repeatedly stated, Co-op Live remains committed to grassroots music in Manchester and beyond, including teaming up with Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham on the Artist of the Month campaign, and as a founding partner of Beyond The Music.

“Co-op Live also donates over £1m a year to the Co-op Foundation to support communities and empower young people to take social action through its new Young Gamechangers fund. Oak View Group and Co-op Live remain happy to meet with grassroots organisations once the venue is fully operational.”

Meanwhile, Co-op Live has moved to reassure ticket-holders that upcoming dates with Boogie Wit Da Hoodie (1 May) and Olivia Rodrigo (3-4 May) will go ahead as planned.

A statement from the Co-op Group adds: “As the naming rights sponsor for Co-op Live, we are very disappointed in the delayed opening of the venue and fully recognise the disruption this has caused to affected ticket holders, many of whom are Co-op members.

“Co-op Live is an incredible venue and is a force for good for Manchester, our region and the UK as a whole. We look forward to seeing the venue fully open in accordance with the timescales provided by OVG today.”

 


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Co-op Live opening shows pushed back

The official opening of the UK’s largest arena has been postponed due to a delay in completion of the power supply at the site.

A joint venture between Oak View Group (OVG) and City Football Group, the £365 million Co-op Live in Manchester was due to launch tomorrow with the first of two shows by comedian Peter Kay.

But the dates have now been pushed back to next week after a free test performance by Rick Astley at the venue was cut from 11,000 to 4,000 shortly before it was scheduled to begin on Saturday (20 April). Those with tickets for Astley’s concert who were unable to gain entry have instead been invited to The Black Keys gig at the arena on 27 April.

A spokesperson for the 23,500-cap venue said the decision was made “to enable us to test the spaces effectively”.

“Leading into our test event, some systems had limited electrical power which we were only able to mitigate by reducing capacity,” said a statement. “This meant we made the difficult decision to reduce the capacity of our test event and deeply regret the impact this had on our invited guests.”

Kay’s dates have been switched from 23-24 April to 29-30 April with refunds available for those who can no longer attend. The venue said the postponement was necessary to “ensure we have a consistent total power supply to our fully electric sustainable venue”.

“We will still be hosting The Black Keys on 27 April in the lower bowl with 10k fans as planned, and will continue to test the resilience of the venue and its operations,” reads the statement. “Rescheduling gives us the extra time we need to continue testing thoroughly. This is vital to satisfy the rigorous set of guidelines and protocols that are necessary for a venue of this size.”

“We will still be hosting The Black Keys on 27 April in the lower bowl with 10k fans as planned, and will continue to test the resilience of the venue and its operations”

While the opening of the UK’s newest venue is slightly delayed, Saturday’s test event drew positive reviews from media in attendance.

Manchester World writes: ‘The clarity and depth of sound was notable. Even from the back and the sides, you could feel the bass in your chest and pick out the individual instruments in each ensemble.

“Visibility was also good. Granted, this was a much smaller crowd size than the arena will be pulling in when the opening season commences, but I still had a decent view of the stage from the back end of the floorspace.

“The state-of-art technology used to craft the gig experience inside the venue is truly impressive.”

Upcoming Co-op Live concerts include residencies by Take That, Eagles, Liam Gallagher and The Killers, exclusive arena dates with Pearl Jam and Stevie Nicks, plus shows by acts such as Olivia Rodrigo, Nicki Minaj, Jonas Brothers, Kings of Leon, A Boogie wit da Hoodie, Eric Clapton, Pet Shop Boys and Megan thee Stallion.

Meanwhile, OVG chief Tim Leiweke has shed further light on the company’s plans to build “the greatest arena in the world” in London, as first revealed at this year’s ILMC. Leiweke told the Telegraph the firm was in talks to open a second UK venue near Hammersmith.

 


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OVG’s Jessica Koravos on Manchester’s Co-op Live

Oak View Group (OVG) International president Jessica Koravos has previewed the company’s new Manchester venue Co-op Live ahead of its hotly-anticipated opening next week.

A joint venture between OVG and City Football Group (CFG), the 23,500-cap development will become the UK’s largest arena when it launches at Etihad Campus, the site of Manchester City FC’s Etihad Stadium, on 23 April. Harry Styles has also invested in the project.

Speaking to IQ, Koravos says the “music-first” arena – which boasts an innovative bowl design and state-of-the-art acoustics – will give the UK “one of the best music venues in the world”.

“The only reason I say ‘one of’ is because my boss, [OVG MD] Tim Leiweke, will get very angry if I say it’s the best, because we’ve built some other very good music venues in the US,” she says. “But given that we haven’t had to make any of the kinds of compromises around basketball or ice hockey that maybe North American buildings have to make, I feel like it is going to be the best arena for music in the world.

“For whatever reason, the rest of the venues in the UK, for the most part, are designed around North American sports despite there being a very limited audience for those. We have the biggest standing floor and our back seat on the top row is actually 24 metres closer to the stage then at other venues. There’s not a bad seat in the house, so that’s another big selling point.”

“Manchester has revolutionised itself over the last 20 years and is a top cultural destination in its own right”

Koravos indicates that OVG’s decision to move into Manchester was at least partly influenced by statistics.

“From the late 1990s onwards, Manchester has punched way above its weight and sold more music tickets than many other cities with much bigger populations,” she explains. “And so it was an obvious market that we felt was underserved by its current infrastructure, with a lot of room to expand. And just as a city, Manchester has revolutionised itself over the last 20 years and is a top cultural destination in its own right.”

Comedian Peter Kay will kick-off Co-op Live’s star-studded opening lineup, with The Black Keys set to be the first music act to tread the boards on 27 April.

“Those two Peter Kay shows actually broke the Co-op presale record,” notes Koravos. “There have been 60 onsales to date and that’s been the biggest response. Peter Kay is just loved in the UK and in Manchester in particular. I believe he’s actually the top selling act in the UK currently and so we could think of no better start.”

Other highlights from its first few months include residencies by Take That, Eagles, Liam Gallagher and The Killers, exclusive arena dates with Pearl Jam and Stevie Nicks, plus shows by the likes of Olivia Rodrigo, Nicki Minaj, Jonas Brothers, Kings of Leon, A Boogie wit da Hoodie, Eric Clapton, Pet Shop Boys and Megan thee Stallion.

“We are absolutely thrilled to see the number of artists that are doing two, three, four, or even five or six nights at Co-op Live”

“It was the hope that we would attract multi-night residencies, but it had not been the case traditionally in Manchester before Co-op Live, so we are absolutely thrilled to see the number of artists that are doing two, three, four, or even five or six nights at Co-op Live,” says Koravos. “It really vindicates our hopes for the market. But it’s the artists’ decision, so we’re thrilled they are showing their faith in this venue and in Manchester – those are the decisions that tell us we’re onto a winner.”

Koravos points out that several shows have sold at a faster rate than their London equivalents.

“What’s unusual about their presale is that becoming a member of Co-op costs £1, so it’s a very low barrier to entry,” she says. “It’s a much more accessible presale than the others and I think that is one of the key reasons that it’s been so successful and has come out of the gates incredibly strongly.”

Co-op Live will go head-to-head with ASM Global’s near 30-year-old AO Arena in Manchester, which recently underwent a £50 million reconstruction which included a capacity increase from 21,000 to 23,000. Koravos believes that upgrade in itself illustrates the benefits of competition to consumers.

“We can see that that just the announcement of Co-op Live – never mind the opening – has had a great impact on competition in that that venue has announced its own programme of renovations and such,” she says. “So I think we can say that Co-op Live has pulled the entire infrastructure stock up by the bootstraps in that way, and that is classic competition operating in a good way for Manchester.

“But it’s also the case that having extended the availability of that scale venue dates in the country, enables more tours to come through the country. Every time a new project opens in the UK, it means that more artists can tour at a larger scale and expands the availability for fans.”

“It’s a gift to be able to design from scratch when it comes to sustainability, because these systems are very hard to retrofit once you’re up and running”

Co-op Live has been designed “with sustainability at its core”, according to OVG, and will use electricity for everything from air-source heat pumps for heating and domestic hot water through to cooling and catering, without any gas supply serving the site.

“It’s completely fundamental and has been from day one of our design conversations,” says Koravos. “It’s a gift to be able to design from scratch when it comes to sustainability, because these systems are very hard to retrofit once you’re up and running. The biggest thing was that we were able to design the building to be 100% electric from the beginning.”

In addition, Co-op Live and Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) last month announced a ground-breaking initiative which will see travel on Metrolink and new city centre shuttle buses included in all arena event tickets from 20 April to 30 June, during the venue’s opening season.

“Our efforts are going to be focused on ‘Scope 3 sustainability’, which is trying to influence the behaviour of the audiences coming to and from,” adds Koravos. “We can control our own operations, but we can’t control the audience choices so much in terms of how they get to the venue and back. So we have spent a lot of time and money with Manchester City Council and Transport for Greater Manchester in crafting a raft of measures.”

 


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ILMC 36: The Venue’s Venue: New Frontiers

Experts in venue operations, events strategy and promoting convened at ILMC 36 to analyse the potential of new arenas in emerging and established markets.

Moderated by IQ Magazine’s special projects editor James Drury, The Venue’s Venue: New Frontiers panel featured Live Nation’s Phil Bowdery, Co-op Live’s Gary Roden, D.Live’s Daniela Stork and ASM Global’s Marie Lindqvist and Tim Worton, who discussed what the developments mean for customers, existing venues and touring routes.

Drury kicked off proceedings at London’s Royal Lancaster Hotel by citing several findings from studies conducted by the European Arenas Association (EAA) and the National Arenas Association (NAA). Both indicated that overall attendances grew by 16% in 2023 (27,991,247 people) when compared to 2022 (24,224,783). Due to increased post-pandemic production and touring costs, average ticket prices also rose by 7% in 2023 (€62.04) when compared to 2022 (€58).

According to Worton, those figures were also reflected in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region.

“We came out of Covid a lot later than other territories, so our 2022 numbers were lighter compared to the rest of the world,” he explained. “However, our 2023 numbers were in line with or slightly higher than in 2019, which I credit towards a pent-up post-Covid demand to finally go out and watch live entertainment.”

“I’ve already sold out five new shows in January this year. I can’t remember the last time that happened”

Worton also confirmed a new multi-purpose facility opening up in Bangkok, as well as the 50,000-capacity Kai Tak Sports Arena in Hong Kong.

“2023 was a very strong year for us in general,” noted Lindqvist, referencing the fact that several European markets didn’t register full years in 2022. “‘23 has been a great year for stadium shows in particular.”

“I’ve already sold out five new shows in January this year,” added Bowdery. “I can’t remember the last time that happened.”

Roden has been overseeing the development of Manchester’s Co-op Live, which is scheduled to open in April, and is looking forward to what the venue can offer from a business and entertainment standpoint.

“At 23,500 capacity, it’s going to be the biggest indoor arena in the UK, and given Manchester being a huge regional market, the city can definitely take a second arena,” he said, adding that this year’s MTV Europe Music Awards will be held there in a collaborative effort with Manchester City Council — further emphasising how governmental organisations are waking up to the value of using music as a city attraction.

“Our energy costs went up by 50% last year. Staffing costs have also gone through the roof”

Another point of discussion was the new types of “concert content” being advertised and played in arena shows. Worton praised the rise of Asian and Indian pop shows, while Stork elaborated on the importance of working with less established acts and promoters.

“We always attempt to build and foster relationships with promoters who haven’t had a long history in the business, and we try to go the extra mile to help them set up shows in our venues,” said Stork, who added that D.Live has a great track record with specialty bands who aren’t associated with their regular shows.

“It’s challenging sometimes, but it’s also good fun because it’s something really different,” she said.

The panel also reached a unanimous agreement when it came to discussing the most significant cost challenges. “Our energy costs went up by 50% last year,” said Worton. “Staffing costs have also gone through the roof.”

However, Lindqvist stated the rise in energy bills enabled her team to “make all the necessary investments for reducing energy consumption that ensure environmentally-friendly standards”.

“It’s a very clear trend in all the markets… People want to upgrade their experience, and it’s something that we’re accommodating towards”

When quizzed about the increasing size of production sets and whether a reduction in the number of trucks artists require for their shows, Bowdery stated that such acts are mainly “thinking about their fans” while admitting that their concerts will only get bigger.

“They’re artists, so they want to make sure that everyone enjoys their shows,” he said. “It’s a sign for our times.”

The panel further commented on the shifts in consumer trends when it comes to a preference in premium VIP experiences over general admission tickets, despite a marked increase in the global cost of living.

“It’s a very clear trend in all the markets, which is why we’ve also shifted towards a more B2C model,” Lindqvist said. “People want to upgrade their experience, and it’s something that we’re accommodating towards. This trend is shaping up how we’re going into the market and how we engage with our customers around those different opportunities.”

In closing, the panel explored the role sustainability plays into their operations, which has become a top priority for them. Examples included the banning of single-use plastics, constructing washing stations, selling reusable cups, and more.

“Our buildings have been running on renewable energy for a few years now,” said Stork. “I think everyone from fans to artists have the right to expect that we try our best to be as sustainable as possible.”

 


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Licence granted for Manchester’s Co-op Live

Oak View Group’s Co-op Live venue is set to open next month as planned after being granted a licence by Manchester City Council, despite various objections.

The 23,500-cap development, which is a joint venture with 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.

The council approved the licensing application today following a two-day hearing at Manchester Town Hall last week.

“We are delighted that Manchester City Council’s licensing sub-committee has today voted to approve our application for a premises licence,” says Co-op Live executive director and general manager Gary Roden. “We are grateful to local councillors and residents for their engagement during the process and will remain committed to being the best possible neighbour to the local community up to opening and beyond.

“Manchester deserves the best, and with the opening of Co-op Live just weeks away we’re excited to begin this new chapter in the city’s enviable cultural story.

“This £365 million investment will transform the fan experience of live entertainment, bring international superstars to Manchester”

“This £365 million investment will transform the fan experience of live entertainment, bring international superstars to Manchester, set a new benchmark for large arenas around the world and deliver a significant economic boost to the entire North West region.”

The bid had been subject to multiple objections, including from ASM Global, operator of Manchester’s longstanding 23,000-cap AO Arena, as well as 32 residents, two councillors, the council’s public health team and the Music Venue Trust, which argued the venue’s “ancillary spaces” could take trade off smaller businesses if they were allowed to stay open later.

ASM had argued 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. But OVG alleged the objections were “competition based”.

It was announced yesterday (29 February) that the 2024 MTV EMAs will be held at the new purpose-built live entertainment arena on 10 November.

Stand-up comedian Peter Kay will open the venue with his current record-breaking tour on 23 April, with other acts set to perform over the coming months including Pearl Jam, Take That, Liam Gallagher, Olivia Rodrigo, The Killers, Eagles, Kings of Leon, Nicki Minaj and Justin Timberlake.

 


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