Plans to revamp the arena were first proposed in 2020. Credit: via ASM Global

Summer start for £50m revamp of Manchester’s AO Arena

ASM Global, the operator of the 27-year-old city-centre venue, is pushing ahead with redevelopment plans in response to the creation of a rival £300m arena in Eastlands. 

The £50m project will “dramatically enhance” the venue and boost its capacity from 21,000 to 24,000, ensuring it remains the largest arena in the city.

Oak View Group’s Co-op Live Arena, which ASM Global vehemently opposed, will be able to hold 23,500 people once complete.

As well as increasing the AO Arena’s capacity, ASM plans to redevelop the venue’s entrances and deliver “new premium seating”. 

The arena’s back of house areas will also be improved. A redeveloped backstage experience for artists, production and crew will be delivered, as well as new artist dressing rooms and production areas. 

ASM will unveil more detail on the proposals in the coming months and aims to start work to upgrade the arena this summer.  

Chris Bray, executive vice-president of Europe at ASM Global, said: “As we approach our 30th anniversary, this ambitious endeavour will not only reinforce [the arena’s] position as a leading destination for live entertainment but will extend its market leadership for live and fan experiences for the next 30 years.” 

ASM first announced its intention to redevelop the arena in 2020, with US architect HOK leading on design. 

The project was split across two phases with external improvements being delivered first and the internal overhaul coming later. 

A planning application for phase one of the project, which included improving the Trinity Way entrance and a major redesign of the Hunts Bank entrance, was lodged in 2020. 

However, the Hunts Bank element was later omitted from the phase one plan.

It is understood this part of the project will be subject to a revised planning application at a later date. 

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A perfect example of the benefits of competition

By Manc observer

And this is a good thing. Lord knows it’s needed investment for years now. Amazing what a bit of competition will do.

By Anonymous

Good. Needs to up its game! Looking very tired

By Steve

Needs to install hand rails for accessing the lower end of the lower tier and floor areas.

By Anonymous

About time! It’s an eyesore inside and out, more like a bunker than a place of entertainment.

By Tony Heyes

Ironic that they objected so strongly to Eastlands project but now decide it’s appropriate to spend decent money upgrading their own outdated and very unappealing arena. On past evidence there is no way they would have spent this money, which they should have done ages ago, without the competigion.

By Obsedver

The ring road, arena and arena car park are a real barrier between the city centre and the dilapidated area to the north. It would be fantastic if this development could create a pleasant pedestrian and cycle route from Dutton Street directly to Victoria Station.

By W

Glad for the competition causing this, they were staunchly against the Co-op arena being built.

Would be good to see some sort of memorial included/tribute to the poor souls who lost their lives


So after all the objecting ASM have decided to finally invest in the AO(Manchester) Arena. Not before time.

Manchester will now have the 2 biggest indoor arenas in Europe. Which will attract the biggest and best artists and events to Manchester.

Which will spill over into more visitors, more footfall, Hotels/bookings, bars, restaurants, etc.

A win, win for the AO Manchester Arena, the COOP Live
Arena, Manchester city centre, and Manchester.

Everyone’s a WINNER!

By Jrb

Both arena’s are big mistake.One took huge amount of platform capacity out of Victoria station by building over half the train station platform and the other one in Eastland will be a complete nightmare to leave at night with inadequate transport links and potential football crowd’s leaving at the same time.

By Fred Meyer

The magic of competition!

You sense the Co-op will be successful, great for the area, not so great for transit and active travel, which will have to up its game quickly

By Rich X

Was here last week to see André Rieu, definitely needs something doing with the stairs down to your seat, no hand rails so very dangerous.

By Joanne Evans

Eastlands for me hands down. Manchester City Centre can keep what they have because it’s inferior to the competition. It has lagged behind whilst they dilly-dally messing its customers about. My family, friends and out-of-area visitors have voted to stay away, taking their custom elsewhere. It must be a larger financial hit for Manchester because we keep being asked for alternatives. Feedback is they didn’t know better places and cleaner air existed!

By Andy Grey Rider

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