Co Op Live Elbow concert, Oak View Group, c Sophie Traynor

Architect Populous designed the fully electric arena. Credit: Sophie Traynor

Co-op Live opens as costs set to reach £450m

After a series of high-profile delays, the highly anticipated Manchester arena opened its doors on Tuesday to host an Elbow concert.

“We are very pleased to have opened Co-op Live for a celebratory performance by elbow on 14 May 2024,” said a spokesperson for the arena. “We are now fully focussed on delivering one of the world’s best live entertainment experiences in the UK’s largest live entertainment arena.”

Co-op Live is a 23,500-capacity arena from Oak View Group. It was initially due to open on 23 April. However, issues with the venue’s power supply and air ventilation led to delays. This saw the postponement or relocation of performances by Peter Kay, Take That, Keane, Olivia Rodrigo, A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie, and The Black Keys.

Those issues have also led to the rising price tag for the arena, which initially was set to cost £365m. Now, Oak View Group chief executive Tim Leiweke has told the Manchester Evening News that the figure is £400m and likely to grow to £450m before all is said and done.

Despite the rising costs, Leiweke praised main contractor BAM’s work on the project. Leiweke stated that BAM had lost money by doing the job.

“BAM has been honourable. They’re finishing the project [and] they didn’t try to duck out here,” Leiweke told the MEN. “They’ve taken it on the chin… I have great admiration for BAM and the job they’ve done here, because look at how beautiful this place is.”

Place has reached out to BAM for a comment.

Co Op Live Elbow concert , Oak View Group, c Peter Neill ShootTheSound

Elbow’s concert at Co-op Live has been praised by early reviewers, who noted that the venue is now able to move on from its troubled opening. Credit: Peter Neill, ShootTheSound

Oak View Group delivered the project in partnership with City Football Group. Turner & Townsend was the project manager and cost consultant for the arena. The project was designed by Populous.

Co-op Live is a fully electric venue, with solar panels, air source heat pumps, high-specification insulation, smart building controls, and LED lighting to help bolster its sustainability and energy efficiency credentials. The arena also harvests rainwater that is later used for flushing toilets.

Initial reviews from Tuesday’s Elbow concert heen positive, with The Telegraph, BBC, and MEN all noting that the arena has at last put its troubled past behind it.

Your Comments

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I was there on their opening performance with Elbow last night. Great to see this place open. It’s nothing to look at architecturally, inside or out, but it is an asset for the city and I’m glad we have it.
Have to say, the public transport options were terrible, with Metrolink putting on no additional services or even making the trams double. There were only single trams when we left last night, with about 5000 people waiting, one single 200 capacity car every 12 minutes and only a couple of services left before it shut down for the night. Basically most people had to walk back to the city. Crazy how bad our public transport is in MCR.
That really lets venues like this down.


Good on BAM. Now let’s get the party started!

By Anonymous

An Elbow gig is probably the best possible curtain raiser for a troubled venue as most attendees will be asleep, shortly into the performance.

By Cooper

A worthy addition to one of the most vibrant cities in western Europe.

By King of the North

The transport links should have been part of the plan and they had the data to prove it needed to be upgraded or more carriages made available after any event, as it is the same when leaving Man Citys Ground after a match. God knows what it will be like when there is an event and a late match it will be complete chaos

By Bernie Ainsley

The Elbow performance was Brilliant actually although clearly not everyone can be expected to have taste. AO Arena will have to up the ante now which is only a good thing.

By Anonymous

I find it so frustrating that a venue such as this can even achieve planning without a suitable plan for Public transport . As already highlighted how is it possible not to to increase capacity and frequency of the trams based on the event dates ? no matter how good the gig , issues like this have a significantly detrimental effect and leaves a bad impression. They need to sort asap

By Paul

I’m shocked that the transport isn’t upto scratch, commenters were saying it wouldn’t be an issue

By Gilly

Public transport definitely needs to be improved into that area. There’s a train line that runs north-south just to the west of the Stadium – surely they’re looking at plans to add a railway station there?

By Anonymous

I had to walk 16 miles home, no trams

By WindyMcWindface

Be honest. What a waste of space. There are well enough venues across UK including football stadia. Big is not always best.

By Anon 3

Definitely not a waste of space is the honest answer.
Elbow gig was fantastic btw.

By Keep them coming

16 miles home! Oh Windy you should have asked me I’d have given you a lift. Had a great night though.

By Anonymous

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