Co-op Live: more details of the 23,500-capacity arena being built next to Manchester City’s stadium revealed

The team behind the £365m project say it is due to open on time and on budget next year - but admit there are major challenges around transport to and from the venue if its green targets are to be met.
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More information about Co-op Live - the state-of-the-art 23,500-capacity arena being built in Manchester - has been revealed.

The developers of the £365m venue, which is the result of a partnershp between the Oak View Group,the City Football Group and international star Harry Styles, say they want to create the top venue to watch live music in Europe.

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The countdown is now on to next year’s opening, with more details of the timetable about what will happen between now and the official ribbon-cutting released.

Images also give Mancunians their first look at what the building will be like both inside and outside.

At a briefing on Tuesday (28 June) the team behind Co-op Live spoke about the challenges around achieving its eco ambitions, particularly when it comes to transport, and about ploughing money into Manchester’s communities and grassroots arts scene.

What is Co-op Live going to be like?

Co-op Live is currently taking shape on the Etihad Campus along Alan Turing way next to Manchester City’s football stadium.

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It has been designed to make it feel more intimate than an arena which is designed partly for sport, bringing people closer to the stage than they would generally be in a place that size and having a lower ceiling.

There will also be no branding or logos inside the main arena, the developers say.

An image of the venue’s atrium after a showAn image of the venue’s atrium after a show
An image of the venue’s atrium after a show

The venue will have 32 food and drink outlets and Oak View Group founder and CEO Tim Leiweke said he was determined to have Manchester chefs working in it.

There will also be step-free access, hearing loops,a sensory room for anyone who needs a break from the noise and lighting, and space for assistance dogs.

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The team also intends for the arena to be a nightlife location, with customers encouraged to stay for drinks and food and to enjoy the atmosphere after the show rather than the venue being closed up once the last song finishes.

When will it be open?

Co-op Live is currently slated to open in 2023 and Mr Leiweke said on Tuesday the project was both on time and on budget.

The first acts are expected to be announced in September, although the team has said Harry Styles will be involved in the opening of the arena in some form.

In the mean time businesses or well-heeled individuals can register interest in the membership scheme for some of the premium spaces, which include 28 private suites and bigger, more informal lounges and atrium club areas.

More on that can be found here.

One of the areas of the arena which will have a nightclub-like feelOne of the areas of the arena which will have a nightclub-like feel
One of the areas of the arena which will have a nightclub-like feel

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The team says the venue has been primarily designed for music and large touring gigs will account for most of the programme. However, it is expected that Co-op Live will also stage sporting events such as NBA basketball, tennis and boxing, stand-up comedy gigs and family-friendly entertainment.

It is expected that there will be around 120 events on the programme for the first year and eventually something taking place at Co-op Live on around 200 nights of the year.

The team says it will also work hard to avoid clashes with Manchester City football games as much as possible to relieve the burden on local residents.

Challenges around the environment

The developers of Co-op Live have set themselves the task of creating the most sustainable entertainment venue in Europe, with green features including solar panels on the roof, rainwater harvesting, heat source technology and LED lighting alongside policies for sending zero waste to landfill and reducing packaging.

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However, Mr Leiweke admits that one of the biggest tasks facing the team will be to convince enough people to leave the car at home to make their way to the venue, which is more than half an hour’s walk from Piccadilly station and more than 40 minutes on foot from Victoria.

He said: “We want this to be the first carbon-neutral arena in Europe so we have to work aggressively on limiting the number of cars coming to the district and the venue. Cars are the enemy.

How the outdoor area beside the arena and the canal could lookHow the outdoor area beside the arena and the canal could look
How the outdoor area beside the arena and the canal could look

“The tram is going to be very important because it drops off right at the arena.

“I enjoy the canalside walk but we have to fix it up and light it to make it viable. People won’t feel comfortable walking along the canal without lights. We’ve got work to do on this.”

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The team recently met Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham for a meeting which heavily focused on transport, and talks will also be held with Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM).

Mr Leiweke said there were also discussions taking place about charging points for electric vehicles at the arena.

Giving back to Manchester

Mr Leiweke said he was confident that there was room in Manchester for a second arena (as well as the AO Arena located at Victoria) to thrive and Co-op Live could also work well on a packed music programme that includes outdoor stadium gigs and festivals in summer.

The plight of smaller venues in recent years was also discussed on Tuesday, with the team saying they would be speaking to the Music Venue Trust about supporting the places where the stars of tomorrow will hone their skills as part of the £1m pot they intend to plough back into local and national charities and not-for-profit organisations each year.

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Mr Leiweke said the project was already supporting the Greater Manchester and UK economy, with steel coming from Bolton and concrete from Northern Ireland.

And he said that people living in east Manchester close to the arena would be offered the chance to get their hands on many of the close to 1,000 jobs he envisages the venue creating once it is open.