The Bolton-based online electricals retailer has signed a five-year deal to become the headline sponsor of Manchester Arena, the venue’s first since 2015 when its previous sponsor Phones 4u ceased trading.
AO’s plans to sponsor the arena, which was bought by Secure Income REIT from Mansford Estates for £436m in 2018 and is operated by ASM Global, were first revealed by Place North West in January after a planning application for new signage was lodged.
The rebranded AO Arena is currently closed due to Covid-19 restrictions.
Manchester Arena’s sponsorship history
1995 -1998 NYNEX Arena
1998-2011 Manchester Evening News
2011-2013 no sponsor
2013-2015 Phones 4U
2015-2020 no sponsor
The deal coincides with the submission of plans for the first phase of a project to redevelop the arena.
Following a consultation, ASM Global has lodged plans with Manchester City Council for external work to the arena that 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.
AO founder John Roberts said: “The Arena holds a special place in the hearts of so many people in Manchester so we’re hugely proud to add the AO smile, especially after such an emotional and difficult period.
“We hope today’s redevelopment plans for the AO Arena which, combined with soon-to-be-announced good news about the events coming in 2021, will create hope and excitement about the future of entertainment in our great city.”
James Allen, general manager of the AO Arena, said: “We are thrilled to have secured this partnership and we look forward to a dynamic relationship with this exciting brand. Marking our 25th anniversary with redevelopment plans and our new partnership with AO highlights our commitment to the future of this venue in the heart of Manchester.
“And after such a long period of pause, we look forward to being able to press play and welcome fans back to the AO Arena.”