Global venue developer and investor Oak View Group has been named as the backer potentially set to deliver a 20,000-capacity arena in Manchester’s Eastlands.
US-based Oak View opened a UK office in March, tasked with seeking investment opportunities across the country and Europe.
The investor is working with Manchester City FC owner, City Football Group, having identified land around the Etihad Campus as the best location for an arena.
Tim Leiweke, co-founder and chief executive of Oak View Group, said: “Manchester is an amazing city with a proud music and sporting history, and one that we believe would see substantial benefits from a new arena. East Manchester, in particular, has a strong track record in entertainment and hosting major events.
“Over the last two decades, Manchester has consistently ranked in the top five global cities for arena events. A new world-class arena would create thousands of skilled jobs, apprenticeship and training programmes, and generate significant additional revenue for businesses in the city.
“Understanding the priorities of the community will be a critical part of any proposal, and we are delighted to be working closely with City Football Group as we begin this initial phase of consultation.”
Oak View Group was founded in 2015 by Tim Leiweke and Irving Azoff, to “create a positive disruption to business as usual in the music, sports, and live entertainment industry”.
The potential for a 20,000-capacity arena at Eastlands was first revealed earlier this year, sparking strong objections from city centre businesses.
The operator of Manchester Arena spoke out against the proposals, with executive vice-president of SMG John Sharkey telling Place North West “it is just not possible” for the city to support two arenas, “and if it’s not ours then the city will lose 1.2 million people coming through it, and could turn to tumbleweed.”
The council recently conducted a consultation into a revised masterplan for the Eastlands area, which completed in July, receiving more than 1,400 comments, largely regarding the arena proposal.
Objectors to the second arena included Aviva Investors, owner of the Corn Exchange, hotel operators Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn Express, and Innside by Melia, Hard Rock Café, Harvey Nichols, Manchester Theatres, Vapiano, MJV, the long leaseholder of Manchester Arndale made up of Intu and M&G Real Estate, and DTZ Investors, owner of The Printworks. They all opposed the project, because the second arena would directly compete with Manchester arena, and reduce the footfall and trading performance in the city centre.
A large point of criticism by SMG was based on the belief that an Eastlands arena operator was already lined up, and the council had not appropriately consulted with stakeholders, or done proper market testing. While the council has been open that it had received “interest from international investors”, recent reports suggested it wasn’t a done deal, as “the revised draft framework does not seek to allocate land for an arena” and “the crucial issue of market assessment which will be important factors in determining the robustness or otherwise of planning proposals”.
According to Oak View, upcoming feasibility studies will include engagement with local residents and businesses to understand community priorities. The investor also said “any OVG project in the city would be entirely privately-financed and would not seek any public subsidy”. Oak View declined to release the names of any companies currently advising on the scheme.