OVG Eastlands Arena internal
OVG's plans were unveiled in April

COMMENT | Objecting to Eastlands arena is like me objecting to Media City

Comments (15)

Michael Ingall Manchester needs to welcome investment and “grow the cake”, which means progressing plans for a second entertainment arena for the city, writes Michael Ingall of Allied London.

I welcome anyone or any business that intends to better the city and invest in Manchester. Investment and healthy competition are fuel for growth.

A successful city is one that keeps moving and now and again makes a bold and dramatic move. Spinningfields was a bold and dramatic move. It moved the centre of gravity and in doing so opened huge opportunities for new areas, such as First Street, Greengate, Circle Square and our own St Johns. All of these places benefitted from a new role Manchester was able to take on, and ripped the shackles off an otherwise tired and restricted central business district.

[Allied London’s] Enterprise City and The Factory in St Johns will be another bold and dramatic lift for the city. The Factory will elevate Manchester into a cultural space beyond most of its European peers and Enterprise City will provide the most diverse media and technology cluster in the UK. In delivering these developments, we have brought more than £2.5bn of investment to this city and moved it up the charts. We are making the cake bigger, and have never looked left, right or behind.

The key now is to maintain and increase investment in Manchester. We will keep it going. [Developers] Renaker and Select will keep the amazing landmark homes projects coming and others will do their bit. But we will need brave economic driver projects to enable the city to continually lift the bar.

The development of Eastlands is a true economic driver. It will make a real social and economic impact to that area and right across the city. A new modern arena, attracting £350m of private investment, from a world-class operator, Oak View Group, can only be a positive for Manchester and the region.

Manchester is attracting this investment now because it is seen as a growing international city, and one that has a hot entertainment sector. Without the development and growth of Manchester International Airport, this project would be a non-starter. Without a buoyant, expanding, diverse and resilient city centre economy, this project would be a non-starter. Without the current swath of new homes, this project would be a non-starter.

The new arena will be opening just at the right time, as will The Factory, as Manchester bounces back [from the pandemic], and what a force these two places will be. I have seen how this city recovers not only from severe economic troughs but terrible atrocities since my involvement from 1995. Its recovery from Covid will be robust – of that I have no doubt – but not without bold moves and committed investors that believe in the city.

Those that don’t continue to invest and improve what they have will always get left behind in Manchester. The city has moved at a pace unprecedented in the UK but not always so compared to alpha and some other beta cities. Manchester needs to stay ahead, keep moving and provide its people with world-class facilities in every sector.

Manchester can have world-class commercial, retail, hospitality, entertainment, residential, social, education, health, medical, science, media, tech, places and environments, and the market must be allowed to operate to provide that.

Objecting to this development is like me objecting to Media City in Salford or the Innovation District. Not a chance. We need growth, and competition is fuel for growth.

Successful cities need choice, diversity, progress, but most of all employment. This project is a catalyst to employment and a catalyst to further investment. Let’s grow the cake. Competition never hurt anyone, but it sure drives performance, Manchester’s standing on the national and international stage, and in turn further investment.

Invest, invest, invest. I look forward to Manchester having a truly world-class arena and the supporting facilities.

Michael Ingall is chief executive of Allied London.

Your Comments

Read our comments policy here

It’s not though is it, work is a necessity for most, a leisure attraction isn’t. As a visitor i’d much rather be in the city centre surrounded by some characterful buildings, the restaurants. Its much greater connectivity and accessibility that out at souless Eastlands. This is about the sustainability of 2 venues battling for same capacity. Arena’s are crap anyway, give me albert hall any day.

By LionelRichTea

I don’t necessarily mind another arena but the current plans are so uninspiring, it looks like a warehouse shed in Trafford Park. Design something decent-looking that doesn’t look like an Amazon storage unit and I might change my mind

By Anonymous

The arena looks amazing and if it doesn’t get built there will be absolute hell to pay.

By jack

Growth for the sake of growth isn’t what we need – whilst opening a new arena will create short term construction jobs there’s not point in this if our existing arena becomes unviable and has to be demolished. We need a proper, independent and transparent assessment of whether Manchester can support two arena’s of this size.

Net Zero Carbon by 2038 will require significant effort and changes to how all of us think and work.

We ignored the warnings from scientists about the likelyhood of a pandemic and it’s left us one of the worst performing nations in the world. Let’s not ignore the scientists on climate change too for the sake of short term economic gain.

By Oli

While there will always reasons to check improvements and quality of investment ,anyone who has a brain and can think back even 20 yrs will realize the significant improvements right across Manchester that major infrastructure investments have made are are still making. Arenas are only a small part of it. Each part is just another piece of an ever growing pie and if you don’t like the taste of that pie you’re probably living in the wrong place.

By Nve

Wise words Mr Ingall. Get it built!!

By Anonymous

Get it built

By Bob

Couldn’t agree more in terms of this being another great step for the City. As for the objections, healthy and high quality competition repeatedly raises the bar and that is what has got Mcr to where it currently is.

By Martyn Headley

I’ve said it twice before, get it built. I find the comments from the big interest groups in town annoy me, they seem to be running another project fear suggesting that the new stadium would turn the city centre into a wasteland!, its laughable. Build it and the m, e, n arena up their game with their proposed refit, all good. Like others already said I prefer small venues but will occasionally venture into the arenas. It’s about variety, the choices.

By Robert Fuller

From the get go, Mike Ingall came on to Manchester like an escort in a Riviera hotel bar. He’s at it again, hitching up his skirt & settling on a bar stool, to tell us how wonderful we are. Specifically, for attracting a global operator to take a punt on a second 23,500 capacity multipurpose arena, to compete directly with the one that has straddled Victoria Station since 1995. Pat yourself on the back, & imagine what it will be like to schlep out to Eastlands for your £150 fix of Dua Lipa, socially distanced.

Or you might want to raise your brow & see something as yet unimagined in The Factory, the huge art hangar, that is only a few years & many more millions off. HOME is actively seeking voluntary redundancies. Every regional theatre is in peril, and Ingall is bigging us up. Thanks Mike, you’re pretty cute yourself.

By Phil Griffin

This will cause chaos on the roads and Metrolink. Do not build this!

By Disgruntled Goat

Thank god we have viewpoints like this to temper some of the negativity spinning out from the existing Arena owners and their partners. The complaints of private equity investors (of the MEN arena) about open market competition need to be taken with a large dose of salt.

Eastlands needs new projects to help build its profile and footfall and this is ideal. The investment and jobs that come with the arena will be fantastic for the city.


The title to this article is just so inaccurate as the two are just not comparable, but I get that it’s got people reading it, which is good. Another key thing to consider is that it’s not just an Arena – we are looking at a scheme which includes considerable level of leisure (food and drink and so on) floorspace. Will this part of the offer also attract visitors away from the city centre even when the Arena doesn’t have a show on? I agree we need competition and growth, but perhaps this isn’t the one for the city?

By Junior

Get it build! Build the new homes, offices and retail!
Manchester is the uk’s third largest city and can have multiple venues!

By Stuart wood

Michael Ingall is now an expert to comment on our entertainment stadiums – interesting. And what on earth has the article title with Media City in it got to do with any of this? Bizarre.

By Bullseye