The Manchester Arena, owned by Development Securities, has been officially recognised as the second busiest venue in the world following the publication of ticket figures for 2011.
Industry publication Pollstar reported over 1.2 million ticketholders for entertainment events at the Manchester venue last year, an increase of 12% on 2010.
The O2 Arena in London took top spot, with more than 1.9 million tickets sold, and the Sportpaleis Arena in Antwerp, Belgium, took third spot, with 714,000 tickets.
The venue is operated by SMG Europe which is leading the search to find a new sponsor for the building after a 13-year relationship with the Manchester Evening News ended last year.
John Knight, general manager for the arena, said: "In both number of ticketholders and variety of events this is a tremendous achievement.
"2011 has seen some incredibly high-profile performances at the venue including the return of Peter Kay for his final 20-night residency, sold out shows by Coldplay, Paul McCartney and Rihanna and the world premiere of Batman Live and European premiere of Glee Live.
"We're now looking forward to another strong 12 months with multiple nights already selling strong for X Factor Live, JLS, Westlife and Michael McIntyre amongst others."
SMG would not comment on a new sponsor although industry sources claim it has attracted interest from several large national firms, and a deal could be done in the first half of 2012.
No value has been put on any potential cost to interested parties, although a recent deal between the SECC Glasgow Arena and Scottish Hydro was worth £1.5m a year for 10 years. O2 sponsors the former Millennium Dome for £6m a year.
The full top ten:
- London O2 Arena – 1.9m tickets
- Manchester Arena – 1.2m
- Sportpaleis Antwerpen – 714,000
- Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne – 706,000
- O2 Dublin – 670,000
- Palais Omnispoerts Paris – 659,000
- Staples Center, Los Angeles – 633,000
- Madison Square Garden, New York – 616,000
- Air Canada Centre, Toronto – 582,000
- LG Arena, Birmingham – 561,000