Bam has been confirmed as the contractor for the £350m arena planned for near the Etihad Stadium, while documents reveal the other sites which were under consideration for the 23,500-capacity venue, including Pomona Island and Stockport town centre.
US developer Oak View Group submitted its planning application for the “best in class” arena, due to be built on a site close to Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium, within Eastlands, earlier this week.
The arena will occupy a 5.5-acre site bound to the north by Sportcity Way, the west by Joe Mercer Way, the east by Alan Turing Way and the south by the Ashton Canal.
Bam Construction had been tipped to win a £150m contract to build the stadium, and the company’s appointment was confirmed by OVG yesterday.
The choice of the Eastlands location has been controversial, and as part of the application, planner Deloitte has submitted a document which justifies why the site was chosen.
As arenas are classed as a “main town centre use”, according to Deloitte “only if suitable city centre sites aren’t available should an out of centre location be considered”.
OVG’s criteria included size of site, transport connectivity, profile, and uses already present in the surrounding area.
A longlist included 73 sites across Greater Manchester, including in the city centre and within towns such as Wigan and Bolton.
The final shortlist narrowed to three sites judged as central to a city or town, which were Piccadilly Trading Estate near to Piccadilly train station, Pomona Island and Stockport town centre, as well as nine out of centre, which included the Etihad site and alternatives such as the Old Trafford car park and Trafford Centre car park.
Despite its connectivity advantages and prominence, Piccadilly was discounted due to the surrounding industrial uses, and the fact that timescales for the redevelopment of the area would likely be impacted by the delivery of HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail.
Pomona Island was discounted due to its “irregular shape” and likelihood of leading to visitor congestion, as well as “highly complex construction” needed due to its location between two waterways.
Stockport town centre was rejected as the project would need “significant land assembly, demolition and improvements to pedestrian access”, and was judged as not a high profile enough location.
Meanwhile, “the analysis concludes that the Etihad Campus is suitable, available and viable for the proposed arena development and is clearly the best connected of the shortlisted sites to the centre.”
John Sharkey of ASM Global, operator of the Manchester Arena, has been critical of the idea of a second arena in the city, suggesting that the market could not support two 20,000-plus venues, an opinion which is refuted by Oak View Group’s chief operating officer, Mark Donnelly. Other city centre businesses, such as Printworks and Corn Exchange, have joined Sharkey in arguing an out-of-centre location risks drawing footfall away from their restaurants and bars.