Manchester Arena currently lays claim to the title of the biggest arena in the UK, closely followed by the O2 Arena in London.
It already has a capacity of 21,000. But amid news that an American investor is bidding to build a rival arena with a bigger capacity near the Etihad campus, operators ASM have revealed a dramatic redesign that would take the venue’s capacity up to 24,000.
This would make it the biggest arena not just in the UK but in the whole of Europe – outstripping the capacity of the Oak View Group’s proposed venue.
Plans released today suggest the extra capacity would be created by expanding standing space for concert-goers in the stalls by another 3,000.
It states that the redesign will “ensure the Arena remains at the heart of the city for the next 25 years and beyond.”
CGIs released for the first time show a much greener Arena with its roof and external spaces covered in foliage to meet the council’s 2038 zero-carbon initiative.
A new aesthetic for the façade will pay homage to Manchester’s symbolic worker bee – first adopted during the industrial revolution before being reclaimed in the wake of the 2017 terror attack as a sign of unity and solidarity.
Bosses are also currently in talks with the families of those affected by the tragedy regarding a memorial to be installed in the City Room.
An external redesign will reimagine the concert goer’s arrival experience and rework the flow between the venue and Manchester Victoria transport links.
Four new concourse levels will be introduced, with a dedicated new floor for luxury VIP boxes and lounges. Again, these changes are intended to enable better circulation throughout the venue, as well as providing additional retail space.
On top of all this, new food and drink offerings will be installed on the event floor and a new music therapy hub will be opened up below for community use.
The visuals represent the first phase of redevelopment plans, with Manchester Arena inviting people across the city to have their say on its future in the coming months.
“These plans have been made public earlier than intended, as we are still in the process of consulting with Manchester City Council, our neighbours and landlord on the design – their input and involvement in this journey will be crucial,” said John Sharkey from ASM Global.
“In particular, we’re working to ensure our final proposals fit with the Council’s wider infrastructure planning. We are also in dialogue with the families of the May 2017 terrorist attack around a fitting memorial for the City Room.”