Why Co-op Live has no choice but to get things right now after Gary Roden resignation and Peter Kay quips

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It’s the start of a new week - and surely it can’t be any worse than the last for Manchester’s new arena?

It wasn’t meant to be like this. Peter Kay was supposed to be cracking jokes on stage - not on social media at the expense of Manchester’s new £365million arena. 

The Bolton legend was the marquee name chosen to open Co-op Live. It made sense, even if he still had an epic run ongoing down the road at AO Arena. But Kay was left to quip “I can’t believe it either” when announcing on social media that his double-header had been rescheduled for the second time. 

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Not good - and that was just the start. After big claims were made and big names were announced Europe’s biggest indoor arena could arguably not have had a more troubled opening week. 

Co-op Live has not been able to open on time with a catalogue of issues contributing to a nightmare first weekCo-op Live has not been able to open on time with a catalogue of issues contributing to a nightmare first week
Co-op Live has not been able to open on time with a catalogue of issues contributing to a nightmare first week | William Lailey / SWNS

Fans turned away at the door of a test event, gigs delayed, the general manager resigning and even neighbours of the 23,500 seat venue getting incorrect tickets on their motors as part of a new parking scheme. 

As they enter a new, hopefully more serene week, the question for Co-op Live bosses is what the legacy of all this is. 

In an interview with the Manchester Evening News Oak View Group managing director Tim Leiweke remained confident the venue would open this week. That means we get the unlikely scenario of US rapper A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie opening things up this Wednesday. Pop superstar Olivia Rodrigo then has back-to-back nights for her army of fans. 

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The big names keep on coming in May with Take That and Nicki Minaj among those due to perform. A certain Liam Gallagher is then due to land for several nights of pure Mancness in June. 

Liam Gallagher is one of the many big names due to play Co-op LiveLiam Gallagher is one of the many big names due to play Co-op Live
Liam Gallagher is one of the many big names due to play Co-op Live

In the same MEN interview. Leiweke admitted he daren’t tell Gallagher his gig would have to change as the Oasis icon would “probably hit me”. 

Another joke Co-op bosses would rather not like to hear - a bit like the aforementioned one from Kay - but there is a question to be asked about how much the near farcical opening has damaged the arena’s image both in the industry and with paying punters. 

A lot of big proclamations were made beforehand, and given the obvious rivalry with the nearby AO Arena, it’s not like artists don’t have options. 

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And what of consumer confidence? We spoke to a few people including Kerstie Forsyth, who told us having flown over from Belfast for her birthday she was £700 out of pocket when the Peter Kay gigs were first rescheduled. Thing is, in a second chat with her she revealed that while her husband had been forced to go home she went and stayed with a friend in Hull only to have the gigs postponed for a second time, meaning she can’t go. Kerstie will no doubt be thinking about spending her money with Co-op Live again, and she’s not likely to be alone. 

Some in the industry insist this will soon be ancient history, and they could well be right. After all, if the big names play in the snazzy new arena, the demand will be there.  Co-op Live bosses will certainly be hoping people have short memories when it comes to parting with their cash, their situation aided by the fact so many tickets for the A-list names have been snapped up already. 

One’s thing for sure, they might have already used up all their chances, and the doors haven’t even opened yet. 

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