Operator ASM Global has launched a consultation for the first of a two-phase redevelopment of the venue – which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year – and intends to submit a planning application at the end of this month.
External work to the arena, which has been closed since March due to Covid-19, will see the redevelopment of the Hunts Bank entrance to create a sloping ramp taking concert-goers from street level up to the arena entrance, opposite Cheetham’s School of Music.
Commercial units beneath the ramp will provide a permanent home for music charity Nordoff Robbins.
Other work includes improving access from Trinity Way by creating another entrance. This, in turn, will allow the arena to more than double its standing capacity from 3,000 to 7,000, under the plans.
Speaking to Place North West, ASM Global’s business development director Tom Lynch said the reramp would improve the sense of arrival to the arena. Talks with Cheetham’s, Network Rail and conservation body Historic England over the plans have been positive, he added.
The second phase of the project – to improve the arena internally – would cost in the region of £40m to £70m and is still being drawn up. It would not require a planning application, according to Lynch.
Provisional plans for the interior , unveiled in March, include the creation of an additional concourse level to improve visitor circulation, and a dedicated level for VIP boxes and lounges, as well as new food and drink outlets on the event floor.
Avison Young is the planning consultant for the scheme and HOK is the architect.
Lynch added: “We’ve been humbled by the overwhelming support from our neighbours and the people of Manchester so far.
“We invite as many people as possible to review our plans and give us their feedback and ideas. We’re excited about protecting and enhancing the future of the arena at the heart of the city centre, as we celebrate 25 years as one of the most successful venues in the world.”
US-based arena developer Oak View Group, which says that Manchester Arena is outdated, wants to build a rival venue in Eastlands and submitted plans in April that are expected to go before Manchester City Council’s planning committee in September.
OVG claims that Manchester can support two large arenas, but ASM Global contests this claim.