OVG unveils plans for a new live entertainment and sports arena in Manchester
Plans for what is being touted as the UK’s largest indoor arena, with a capacity of around 23,500, have been revealed by Oak View Group. The £350m project would deliver an arena capable of hosting an array of music and sporting events.
Plans show the arena would be built on waste ground next to Manchester City Football Club’s Etihad Stadium. With a capacity of up to 23,500, the new venue would overtake the existing Manchester Arena and The O2 Arena in London to become the UK’s largest indoor arena.
With an expected price tag of GBP£350m, it would also be the most expensive arena ever built in Europe. Those behind the project say the “versatile” venue would host around 120 events a year, with big music tours being its focus. In addition, the proposals show it would boast the biggest standing floor area at any arena in the UK, able to accommodate over 10,000 fans.
The project team has stated that they will also be “aggressive” in trying to bring all the biggest events to the city, including tennis, boxing, MMA, ice hockey, basketball and more. They even hope to see the Brit Awards held outside of the capital for the first time once the new state-of-the-art arena opens.
According to the American firm behind the project, Oak View Group (OVG) – which recently opened a global office in the UK, OVG International – subject to successful planning approval, it’s expected that the build would take three years and that the new arena could host its first events as early as 2023. It’s also expected to create around 3,500 jobs during construction and over 1,000 new jobs once it is up and running.
The architects behind the project insist that as a ‘cultural capital’, Manchester can sustain two arenas and that theirs is “not designed to eliminate the current arena but to compliment the demand in the area.”
OVG have, with the support of Manchester City’s holding company the City Football Group (CFG), been undertaking feasibility studies into a new arena on the Etihad Campus and consultation on their plans since last summer. However they now have confirmed they are pushing ahead and will be submitting a planning application to the town hall “in the coming weeks.” They have now revealed more details about the venue and how it will look.
Plans show the arena would be built on a patch of wasteland next to the Ashton Canal and bordering Alan Turing Way on the Bradford side of Etihad Stadium, at the side of Joe Mercer Way, which links the car park to the City superstore and tram stop.
All seating in the lower bowl of the multi-tiered venue would be telescopic, allowing capacity to be increased or decreased depending on the size of the event.
In an exclusive interview with the Manchester Evening News , OVG’s Co-Founder & CEO, Tim Leiweke, said building a modern arena in the city had been a long held ambition:
I’ve always been a huge fan of Manchester and we have been trying to figure this out for many, many years. We’re grateful we finally have a site, we have a vision, and we have a partnership with the community to pull off building what we hope will the best arena ever built in Europe and the UK.
The plans have already sparked a political row in the city with those behind the existing Manchester Arena, attached to Victoria Station in the city centre warning it could push them out of the business. And if the new facility is built, Manchester would host the two biggest arenas in the country, with the existing Manchester Arena being able to house up to 21,000 people and The O2 in London 20,000.
However, Leiweke said:
Building the best and most expensive arena to date in the UK or Europe is a fantastic testament to Manchester and the vibrancy of Manchester. I believe the marketplace deserves it, I believe the marketplace has earned it.
It was always amazing to us the passion for music and live entertainment and sports in the area. I think Manchester deserves a new arena and it is certainly not built to eliminate current arena but to compliment the demand in the area.
Most of the big markets have two, three of four arenas. If you look at London when The O2 was built many people predicted the demise of Wembley Arena [The SSE Arena Wembley], but they’ve just had he best year they’ve ever had. There’s one new proposed arena in addition to that one and probably a second one coming. So that’s potentially four in London. Birmingham have two next door to each other that do well.
Manchester is not only the second biggest market in the UK it’s a capital market for around 15 million people in the north. This is a cultural capital, this is where people go for music, for entertainment, for sports. We believe two arenas will do just fine. We’re the second one in, we’re private. People can have opinions on whether the market needs two but the reality is we’re the ones taking the risk and we so much believe Manchester deserves a world class arena, we’re willing to take £350 million worth of risk on it.
Despite its status, Leiweke said he believed the lack of a modern arena, with the city’s existing arena having opened in 1995, meant Manchester was missing out on some big events:
Artists now make 70 percent of their income from touring and there are more artists, more tours and more tickets sold now than ever before. It’s a massive industry. The UK has seen a huge uplift in terms of live entertainment but Manchester has been a bit of a downturn. Some of the tours are simply going elsewhere.
Manchester has competition from arenas built in the last ten years, such as Leeds and Liverpool. So the fact we haven’t had a new arena in Manchester for 30 years, whilst the industry has doubled and tripled, there is a huge demand for live entertainment for music. This will mean big tour and every big event will be open to Manchester now.
OVG say they have now held over 50 community meetings and consultation events in the area and bosses say local residents have told them “they want a commitment towards security and a commitment that people can come to and from the arena without negatively impacting the community.” They say they have “refined” their plans as a result.
OVG have already promised investment in “campus-wide cycle facilities and improvements to the main walking and cycling routes into the city centre” as well as a residents parking scheme and their own on-site security team. They also claim that the use of low carbon technologies and waste reduction measures will make it one of the most sustainable venues in the UK. And despite insisting the arena plans to use the current hotel, restaurant and bar offerings in the city centre, Leiweke believes it is likely to spur on further growth in that corner of east Manchester.
About Oak View Group
Main image (top): Image, courtesy: Oak View Group (OVG)
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