Huge new arena for Manchester will be named Co-Op Live and create 4,000 jobs

Co-Op Live arena

Plans for a huge new £350m arena for Manchester next to the Etihad Stadium at Eastlands are moving ahead with pace – with the announcement today that the venue will be called Co-Op Live.

The ambitious plans from Oak View Group (OVG) were given the green light by Manchester City Council on Thursday, and now building work is set to start on the project within weeks.

It has today been announced that OVG and the Manchester-based Co-op group will join forces to develop what will become the UK’s biggest new entertainment arena – to rival the likes of New York’s Madison Square Garden at The O2 in London in terms of scale and ambition.  

“Huge boost” to economy

They say it will inject £350m of private investment into the local area, while creating 3,350 construction jobs starting from November this year.  

There will then be 1,000 roles and apprenticeships created on completion of the venue, named Co-op Live, which will have a capacity for 23,500 people.

Bosses say the construction project, the single-largest in the city, will give the regional economy a “huge boost” following the devastating impacts of the Covid pandemic and will boost the local economy by over £1.5bn over the next 20 years.

The news comes just weeks after the Manchester Arena confirmed its new name as The AO Arena after a deal with electrical giant AO to take it into its new era which includes a major revamp of the city centre building and increase in capacity to 21,000.

Member-owned Co-op, which is the largest consumer co-operative in the UK, has become a significant presence within the UK’s music scene, with pop-up shops at festivals such as Glastonbury, and is synonymous with Manchester, opening its first offices there in 1863. 

Around £1m a year will go to good causes across the UK – distributed by the Co-op Foundation – and they say the arena will be one of the most sustainable and socially responsible buildings of its type in Europe, and will help to tackle food poverty via a zero-food waste initiative. 

The Co-op is a strong supporter of apprenticeships and will back the arena’s apprenticeship programme and provide direct employment opportunities for its six secondary and college academies across Greater Manchester.

Music will be at the forefront

Manchester was chosen as the location for OVG’s first international arena because of its iconic music culture and history as a live entertainment destination, which is why the arena was designed specifically with music at the forefront, unlike almost all other large arenas. 

They are aiming to deliver new events to the city, including awards shows, international sporting events and tournaments, family entertainment shows and emerging formats such as eSports.

Steve Murrells, Group CEO, Co-op, said: “Co-op is set up with a clear goal to serve the interests of its members and invest for the long-term. The entertainment arena brings to life the co-operative difference and our vision to co-operate for a fairer world, from its sustainable construction, support for communities, zero food waste and member only exclusive benefits. It will not only enthral audiences, but every time people watch a live act they’ll be doing good in local communities across the UK.”

OVG, founded by Tim Leiweke and Irving Azoff, two of the live entertainment industry’s most influential executives, hopes to host its first event in the new venue in 2023.

Tim Leiweke said: “We’re delighted with this partnership and join together with the Co-op team to build the new world-class arena that Manchester deserves. Our shared vision with Co-op is what makes this partnership so special.

“Our partnership goes way beyond a normal naming rights agreement. The shared values will help define the ethos of the venue, including bold commitments on sustainability and community. I’ve said from the beginning of this project that this arena will be of Manchester, for Manchester and by Manchester, and this partnership with one of the city’s most iconic brands is a critical part of that. We can’t wait to work together to bring amazing live event experiences, in one of the world’s best arenas, to Manchester.”

Following final confirmation from national planning authorities, the project will start creating over 3,000 jobs during a three-year construction period, all paying at least the Manchester Living Wage.

Alongside the direct jobs, analysis shows the project will support a further 6,000 jobs in construction right across Greater Manchester. Once open, Co-op Live will create a further 1,000 jobs across a wide range of roles and skill-levels to put on world leading events with a world beating visitor experience.


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