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AO Arena reveal complete £50m luxury suite to ‘re-define’ the gig experience

Manchester's AO Arena expands its premium portfolio of VIP luxury suites and lounges to provide the ultimate experience

As AO Arena has undergone a transformational redevelopment as the venue today announces the completion of The Mezz; a brand-new suite, premium bar and restaurant, open for bookings from May 2023.

And we have to say, it is incredible.

The AO Team reckon it will ‘completely re-define the gig experience’, and we have to say it looks very nice.

News of this latest, state-of-the-art offering comes as AO Arena continues to expand and elevate its entire premium portfolio, delivering the next level in exclusive luxury experiences in the heart of Manchester city centre.

The Mezz at the AO Arena

The Mezz is the new and exclusive, members-only level at Manchester’s iconic, award-winning venue.

The Mezz promises to take guests above and beyond the show.

With two connected experiences, The Mezz’s bar and restaurant, guests can expect the very best modern British cuisine, champagne, fine wines, signature cocktails and post-show entertainment.

The food and beverage offering on the concourse has been completely revamped, now offering a new and exciting menu which includes handcrafted burgers, salt and pepper chicken and accompanying vegan options including smash meat-free burgers with vegan smoked applewood and vegan loaded fries, as well as vegan bratwurst with sauerkraut in a vegan brioche bun topped with crispy onions and served with vegan chilli cheese sauce.

Chef Simon Rogan MBE and Chef Tom Barnes

In a first of its kind , ASM Global joins forces with award winning Chef Simon Rogan MBE and UMBEL Restaurant Group alongside Chef Tom Barnes,  embarking on a new and exclusive culinary partnership starting at the AO Arena, Manchester.

The alliance between the world’s leading producer of entertainment experiences, venue management and event strategy and the fine dining specialists, will see Simon Rogan and Tom Barnes partner with the venue on the launch of The Mezz, the world-class premium bar and restaurant space coming soon to AO Arena in Manchester which is currently undergoing a major £50m redevelopment.

The Mezz

The news comes as ASM, whose UK portfolio also includes first direct Arena (Leeds), OVO Arena Wembley, P&J Live (Aberdeen), Utilita Arena (Newcastle), Connexin Live (Hull), York Barbican and York Racecourse, sets out to further enhance its food and beverage strategy, including premium, in a partnership fuelled by a shared passion for an unrivalled guest experience.

The Mezz

Alongside chef Simon Rogan, owner of UMBEL Restaurants, and chef Tom Barnes, of soon-to-open Manchester restaurant Skof coming to the N.O.M.A district, this venture is part of the ASM’s mission to transform the in-venue food experience.

Launching with The Mezz at AO and then across the wider portfolio, the partnership will see the introduction of quarterly seasonal dishes, menu curation, regular appearances from Simon Rogan and chef Tom Barnes throughout the year and access to produce from Simon Rogan’s farm ‘Our Farm’, located under two hours from Manchester, close to his restaurants in the Cartmel Valley, further driving the importance of food provenance and sustainability.

What’s more, members of The Mezz will have exclusive pre-booking access across the UMBEL Restaurant Group, including Skof, which Manchester’s Finest has named as the hottest opening of 2024, with more exclusive benefits to follow soon.

The Mezz at the AO Arena

Supported by AO since 2020 on an initial five-year deal and now until at least 2030, the legendary city centre venue will continue to support Manchester’s music scene long into the future.

Jen Mitchell, GM of AO Arena said, “we are delighted to have had our contract extended and and look forward to shaping the thriving creative and cultural scene of the city.”

For 30 incredible years, the AO Arena has underpinned Manchester’s thriving music scene with world-class artists including as Prince, Elton John, New Order, The Rolling Stones, Madonna, Billie Eilish, Oasis, Dua Lipa and The Courteeners taking to the stage for unforgettable, electric performances.

And that’s not all, the arena was the venue of choice for Peter Kay to play his record-breaking 50+ date residency, and has also played host to The Commonwealth Games, The Davis Cup, boxing bouts with Mike Tyson, Anthony Joshua, Ricky Hatton and much more.

Master mixologists will man the bar at The Mezz, delivering champagne, mocktails and cocktails accompanied by snacks and sharing platters.

After the show, The Mezz bar will stay open with a DJ on the decks to keep the party going.

From The Mezz, guests will have an unrivalled view of the arena bowl and world-famous stage, as well as direct access to the best seats in the house.

Andy Burnham at The Mezz opening

The Mezz

Speaking at the topping-out ceremony today, Andy Burnham said: “What an exciting day for the city.

“The great thing about the AO is that everyone has their own stories, growing up with family and coming to gigs here.

“We’ve all had cracking and memorable nights here. And for obvious reasons, this place is forever part of Manchester’s story.

“This is a really exciting time for the AO, they’ve got amazing stuff going on every single night of the week that’s bringing people here from all over the country.

“There is so much happening in Manchester.

“Even more is going to be happening. Because, of this. And I just want to thank everybody who’s played a part in making it happen.

“We’re proud of AO as a Greater Manchester-founded company or Bolton-founded company, I should, I should say.

“Rumours of Bolton’s breakaway from Greater Manchester are exaggerated.

“AO has made a huge commitment to supporting grassroots initiatives, and community work.

“This place is part of our story, It will forever be part of the city region’s story. It’s great to see them embracing these spaces in this exciting new phase.”

The Mezz at AO Arena will be the ultimate space to kick-start and end a night of live entertainment.

Jen Mitchell, General Manager at AO Arena commented, “With our redevelopment works well underway, we are delighted to announce the launch of The Mezz.

“A stunning new suite, premium bar and restaurant for guests, right here in Manchester city centre.

“And of course, there will be access to watch the shows from some of the best seats in the house.

“We’re incredibly proud to be elevating AO Arena as we drive ahead to a bright future, so it’s fantastic to reveal this latest addition in the works, as part of our state-of-the-art premium portfolio.”

The Blossoms The Mezz

The Blossoms were in the mix too, setting their hands plaster and had this to say on the new opening.

Speaking to I Love MCR, Tom Ogden, lead singer of the Blossoms said: “We’ve all enjoyed so many gigs at the AO across the years.

“I remember we all came to see Arctic Monkeys here back in 2011. It’s great to be here and part of this opening. It’s good to see it getting some love too.

“We can’t want to get back here and play, and be part of it all.”

The band placed their hands in cement on the concourse, leaving their handprints in perpetuity in the fabric of the venue and immortalising their legacy in the city.

Book The Mezz at AO Arena

To book, or for more information on The Mezz membership, please contact [email protected] or call 0161 950 1069.

There is also a dedicated portal, accessible via a QR code or the website.

AO Arena is home to a rich portfolio of suites, VIP lounges and bars, offering an entertainment experience like no other.

The beautiful North suite

The Beautiful North is AO Arena’s new and exclusive premium super suite.

Offering a 50-show membership package, a spectacular view of the stage from dedicated balcony seating and premium drinks inclusive, and grazing small plates crafted by the suite’s executive chef, The Beautiful North hosts up to 34 guests.

Delivering an unmatched arena experience, The Beautiful North Suite is the ideal space for entertaining and networking.

Members will get tickets for any 50 shows, a dedicated parking space and a warm welcome from The Beautiful North’s private host before enjoying drinks perfectly served at the exclusive bar.

AO Electric Lounge

Undergoing a stunning revamp in early 2022 for an elevated experience, guests can add extra sparkle to their visit to AO Arena, by upgrading to a Champagne Experience at the AO Electric Lounge.

Suitable for couples and small groups, the package offers a dedicated VIP entrance, fast-track early entry to the AO Electric Lounge, a glass of champagne and a sharing charcuterie board, and some of the best seats in the house located just one block from the stage.

Heineken Sky Lounge

The Heineken Sky Lounge boasts unbeatable, iconic views over Manchester’s skyline and a buzzing atmosphere to match.

The ultimate pre-show hangout, guests arrive via the bar’s own private entrance on the Hunts Bank side of the arena and can then enjoy an ice-cold beer or drink before the show.

With prices starting at £30 per person, guests can enjoy exclusive pre-show access to this premium lounge before heading through to watch the show. NB: customers must have a valid ticket for the show before purchasing this upgrade.

The Mezz is the latest addition to the AO Arena as part of the long-term vision and investment to future-proof Manchester’s premier live entertainment venue as it looks ahead to an exciting future in the heart of the action in Manchester.

As part of the major redevelopment works, customers will see upgraded concourse areas with revamped bars and refreshed, quality new menu offerings, catering for diverse and evolving food and drinks requirements for all guests, opening throughout 2023 and into 2024.

Plus, within the main arena bowl, the floor space is being expanded to allow for increased capacity.

AO Arena is operated by ASM Global, the world’s leading producer of entertainment experiences, venue management and event strategy.

Within the UK, ASM Global also operates and manages OVO Arena Wembley, First Direct Arena, Olympia London, P&J Live, Utilita Arena Newcastle, Bonus Arena, York Barbican and more.

Photos credit Vincent Cole

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