Manchester Arena Redevelopment Bird's Eye View
The arena revamp has been designed by HOK Architects

Manchester Arena unveils 24,000-capacity expansion

Dan Whelan

The entertainment venue plans to increase its capacity as part of a redevelopment, making it Europe’s largest indoor arena and leapfrogging proposals from Oak View Group for a 23,500-capacity rival venue in Eastlands.

Manchester Arena, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, holds 21,000 people at present but a proposed increase in standing capacity could make room for an extra 3,000, according to its operator ASM Global.

The plans unveiled this week would also see the creation of additional concourse levels to improve circulation and a dedicated level for VIP boxes and lounges, as well as new food and drink outlets on the event floor. A worker bee façade and an external redesign of the space around the arena to improve the people flow between the venue and Manchester Victoria station are also mooted.

Initial designs have been drawn up by US-based architect HOK, which has designed similar projects including the 70,000-capacity Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta.

OVG Arena Outside Shot

Oak View Group’s proposed 23,500 capacity venue in Eastlands

A statement from ASM Global said the plans “represent a significant investment into the iconic venue and have been created to ensure the arena remains at the heart of the city for the next 25 years and beyond.”

John Sharkey, executive vice-president for European operations for ASM Global, said: “These plans have been made public earlier than intended, as we are still in the process of consulting with Manchester City Council, our neighbours and our landlord on the design – their input and involvement in this journey will be crucial.

“In particular, we’re working to ensure our final proposals fit with the council’s wider infrastructure planning. We are also in dialogue with the families of the May 2017 terrorist attack around [the inclusion of] a fitting memorial for the City Room.”

A study by advisory firm Grant Thornton revealed that visitors to Manchester Arena spent an estimated £114m in Manchester city centre in 2018. Sharkey believes that Oak View’s proposals for an additional arena, in Eastlands, could therefore be damaging for the city centre economy. A planning application for that scheme is due to be submitted this month.

Speaking in June 2019 after Oak View’s plans came to light, Sharkey said: “[The Grant Thornton report said that] 80% of gig attendees spend money in the city centre, and half of those reported that if the venue was outside the city, they wouldn’t come in.

“Only one venue will survive, and if it’s not ours then the city will lose 1.2 million people coming through it, and could turn to tumbleweed. The plans are absolutely crazy, not at all strategic, and are purely opportunistic without any market context.”

However, Oak View’s Mark Donnelly refuted those claims at a public consultation event for the Eastlands arena this month, and said the firm was “confident the market can take two arenas”.

Place North West revealed in January that ASM Global was in advanced talks with AO over sponsorship of the arena.

Your Comments

Read our comments policy here

Well this is definitely needed, good stuff, I hope they can progress with it quickly.

By Thumbs up.

About time they got their finger out

By Disgruntled Goat

You have to question whether this would have happened without Oak View’s proposed arena at Eastlands…

By YIMBY

Where’s the protection for pedestrians ?

By Anonymous

It won’t happen. The Council are totally backing the Eastlands proposal, so why would they also agree to this? There isn’t the need for two mega arenas. Manchester Arena’s days are numbered

By Steve

On what grounds would the council object to this ?

By @Steve

Well, well, well, nothing like a bit of competition to get someone off their backside…really do think these guys have used their monopoly to get complacent and just do nothing for years. This is long overdue, should have been done maybe 10 years ago.

By Manc Man

Unless there’s a serious and major revamp of ALL the approach and exit roads & routes, in addition to a complete re-think on parking facilities for the hundreds who WILL arrive by car, this scheme is an absolute non starter and will create more congestion than there is already. Just talk to existing concert goers who ended up stuck for hours at a time on the current car park exit routes.

By Paul Robert Walker

I think my previous comment clearly explains why

By Steve@ Steve

Looks horrendous! Probably because it has been thrown together in 5 minutes as a response to Oak View Group’s proposal. If you’re going to invest do it properly, as it stands, this scheme offers nothing like the quality and experience shown in the Eastlands proposals. Although valid point for the city centre revenue.

By Anon

Are you suggesting the Council would purposefully object to this private proposal so another private development can be successful ?
Like saying ‘Sorry you can’t open a restaurant here because there’s one already next door’. Madness.

By @Steve

As Manchester city council claim that the city is one of the few in Europe capable of supporting two big arenas, I look forward to seeing this approved.

If it’s refused they’ll certainly have some explaining to do.

By Mike

Steve – The Council support for the Eastlands proposal doesn’t come into it. They don’t have carte blanche to decide what does and doesn’t get built. The Council have to assess proposals within a very tightly controlled system (the planning system) and the trenches of legilsation that, rightly, binds their hands. Without a valid, evidence based objection on planning merits they won’t be able to prevent it.

By SillyGoose

Looks good let’s hope this arena and the proposed Eastland arena prosper .

By Monty

It won’t happen and will get called into Secretary of State – no need for it when MEN is only at 50% capacity by events booked and yet the second largest arena by turnover in the world. Limited Transport infrastructure to service 24,000 people let alone parking there. People want to be in the city centre to enjoy pre event beers, dinner and stay over. This will only encourage driving unfortunately to the detriment of the city centre. Ignorant comments above – tell me which UK city has two full blown arenas – none. Plenty of other event and music venues in the city will always prevail at the expense of this proposal – MEN, Old Trafford, Etihad, Manchester Central….

By Anonymous

I agree this is long overdue but until they settle on reasonable prices for events then they’re still going to see empty seats. Over the 8 months I’ve seen tickets being resold by the venue (for seated) for £200, standing tickets for £140 and recently £300 for a front and centre seat. All these are for a single ticket. How can this be justified? Is it any wonder it’s failing to fill all the seats when you mix this with the expensive bars and food serving mediocre food and drinks. They should look inwards before they start looking outward.

By Anonymous

What’s the point, sitting in the back upper tiers of the Arena is a dreadful concert or show experience anyway.

By LionelRichTea