OVG Eastlands Arena.
The arena is expected to open in 2023

Manchester approves £350m Eastlands arena  

Dan Whelan

US stadium developer Oak View Group has secured consent to create a 23,500-capacity arena in East Manchester. Contractor Bam Construction will start building the venue in November.

Eight of the nine planning committee members voted to approve the project while chair of the committee Cllr Basil Curley abstained.

However, Secretary of State Robert Jenrick has received an anonymous request to call in the application and subsequently it will not be formally approved until the request is considered.

Manchester City Council planning officer Dave Roscoe described the development, located next to Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium, as “game-changing”.

The proposals, submitted in April, were supported by various ward councillors who welcomed the investment and opportunity to create “local jobs for local people”. 

ASM Global, the operator of the rival and recently rebranded AO Arena in the city centre, has been an outspoken critic of the scheme, claiming Manchester cannot support two large arenas. 

Approval of OVG’s proposals would put ASM’s own redevelopment plans, a £100m investment to upgrade the existing arena, in jeopardy, according to the ASM. 

Both OVG and ASM commissioned market growth reports in light of the proposals for a second city centre arena. 

OVG Eastlands Arena internal

OVG’s plans were unveiled in April 

OVG predicted there would be an additional 2.5 million annual arena visits in the city by 2035, representing threefold growth from current levels, supporting the developer’s case for a second arena. 

Meanwhile, ASM’s study predicted a more conservative level of growth, at around 5%, adding that an out-of-town arena would negatively impact on the city centre, a claim echoed by various businesses who operate in Manchester. 

Speaking on behalf of OVG, Jon Cooper, partner at Deloitte Real Estate, planning consultant for the Eastlands arena project, criticised ASM for portraying the city centre economy as fragile and said there was “robust evidence of market growth to support two arenas”. 

Roscoe said it was “unsurprising” the two parties had produced different predictions of market growth, but an independent survey by consultancy Hatch, commissioned by the council, found OVG’s forecast to be more accurate and that ASM’s was “pessimistic”. 

OVG Eastlands Arena canalside

Tim Leiweke, OVG’s co-founder and chief executive, said: “We’re delighted that Manchester City Council has given our proposals the go-ahead, and we can’t wait to get started, bringing £350m of private investment, creating thousands of jobs, and delivering one of the world’s best arenas to this amazing city.”

Cllr Pat Karney said: “Today’s decision is about confidence in our city, Greater Manchester and the North West. The city centre, our communities and the wider city will be strengthened by our newest neighbour, Oak View Group Manchester. This is the next chapter in East Manchester’s regeneration.” 

The Eastlands arena project was designed by architect Populous. Declan Sharkey, Populous senior principal and project architect, said: “In line with Oak View Group’s vision, the new arena in Eastlands has been designed to attract even more global headline events and acts to Manchester and become a catalyst for further economic and cultural investment for the city.” 

OVG expects the arena to open in 2023.

A spokesperson for ASM Global said: “We are wholly disappointed in today’s decision, which we feel completely negates the concerns of both ourselves and many key city centre stakeholders.

“This decision will have a significantly adverse impact for our existing arena, and the wider city centre businesses and attractions it supports. Clear evidence has been presented on multiple occasions that demonstrates the application for an Eastlands Arena relies on flawed research, impossible market projections and is in defiance of national and local policy.

“Fundamental questions remain as to whether this is truly the right choice for Manchester, particularly in the current climate. We firmly believe, and are supported in analysis from the likes of Charles River Associates, Oxford Economics and Grant Thornton, that this second arena will instead pull visitors, footfall and spend away from the city centre. There is simply no business case to support a significant investment if the market is halved.”

Your Comments

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Number of Arenas in Manchester = 2
Number of Arenas in Liverpool = 1. Why no second arena for Liverpool?

By Liverpool Romances

Firstly.

Great news.

Secondly.

*Received an anonymous request to call in the application*

There’s a surprise.

I wonder who could be behind that?

By jrb

The owners of the MEN ) AO stadium have a window of opportunity to up their game and invest in the stadium with all of the attendant benefits it will have after the worst of the present pandemic has abated. Fail to invest and they might as well sell the site for redevelopment now.

By Nve

Thank goodness common sense has prevailed. Also good to see that they weren’t swayed by childish threats from ASM. I’f ASM now can’t redevelop the manchester arena then it’s time for them to sell up to someone who isn’t afraid of healthy competition.

By Bob

Great news, glad the planning committee didn’t scupper it for some random unfounded reason. Agree with Nve’s comment, AO arena need to up their game to stay competitive, they have had the monopoly for too long and got complacent

By Bradford

The current arena should close so that the platforms at Victoria can be redeveloped, at the moment it still looks rubbish where it matters even after all the money ploughed in.
This site could provide more of a gateway to Cheetham Hill since there’s a development framework, and that whole part of Trinity Way could be softened.

By Aaron

This is a bit like Man City claiming that our city is only able to support one football club lol

By Redzer

Wow, spectacularly ugly, top work

By SkiptonWoof

Unbelievable decision – MCC planners need their heads testing. Will be the biggest white elephant.

By Dirk

“Local jobs for local people”

Is Beswick the new Royston Vasey? You’ll never leave!

By Mancunian

Good news to see further development in this part of the city. But please sort the transport out.

By CN

People on here really have it in for the AO area and its owners. It needs investment but they do raise some valid points.

By Jon P

Manchester and the city of Salford population is growing rapidly. This will get used by local people and people from all over the northwest. We need 2 arenas.

By Darren born bred.

@Liverpool Romance stop pretending your from LIVERPOOL when we all know your from Manchester , we are clearly not bothered , we have a brand new state of the art stadium on a beautiful waterfont .

By Neal

In this current climate ? are you sure? and the Manchester market is falling rapidly !!!!!

By Anonymous

Amazing news – keep reaching for the stars Manchester!

This is great for the entire Northwest.

#onenorthwest :-)

By A Scouser in Manchester!

‘The Manchester Market is falling rapidly’ ? The market in what precisely? All cities will see an economic downturn at the moment pretty obvious given the restrictions. Economic growth will return in time and its the cities that attract significant investment that will continue to grow and prosper Manchester has shown itself very adept when it comes to that.

By Nve

Second arena: Yes
Location: No

The area’s infrastructure cannot cope with something of this scale. The public transport cannot cope (they do not increase the frequency of metros when there is something on at The Etihad).

This should be A LOT close to Piccadilly.

Also love @Mancunian’s comment :D

By Observer

Most major event tours are not expected to be back until 2022 according to some promoters.
Current events work for OVG as there will be a pent up demand searching for sizeable venues if it opens 2023 as they are proposing.

Leeds, Liverpool and Sheffield Arenas top out at under 14000 capacity and a population of 2M+ (especially in concert/student season) within 35 miles of the venue.

If ASM don’t invest while there is little use then they’ve bottled it and deserve all they get

By John G

We have won the lottery the council strip and ex slums has been update and now they think they rule the world lol

By Neal

Go to a soulless part of town to go and watch a soulless pop act (eg Coldplay, the killers, Justin Beaker) in a soulless airport hanger box.

By Buen

Fantastic vote of confidence in Manchester. This city has consistently recovered from previous setbacks,usually stronger than ever (think of the 70s and 80s) and will do so once again. OVG convinced enough of market to invest £350m, maybe ASM should show a fraction of the same confidence in the city that has made their arena one of the most successful in the world, and invest as they should have done years ago.

By Observer

Good

By Chantelle

2nd richest city in england , of course

By Chantelle

Bristol is the 2nd richest city in England, Leeds richest in North

By Dan

Depends what criteria you are using for second richest city, usually it is based on Greater Manchester and other areas are based on Cities only(more Mancheater again) then there is wealth management and GVA, some cities gained extra areas and others lost some by political decisions, so unless it is purely on city basis only then a true declaration can be made, because if the same rule applied everywhere some of the dormitory towns down south would really be in contention. As long as it’s a level playing field, but lets not talk about City on here:)

By Just saying!