Oak View Group, the US-based company developing what would be the UK’s largest indoor arena, in Eastlands, said that demand exists for Manchester to support two 20,000-capacity venues.
Speaking at the final public consultation event before a planning application is submitted this month, Mark Donnelly, chief operating officer of Oak View Group, said: “We are confident the market can take two arenas. Manchester is thriving and we what to attract world-class events.
“There are shows out there and Manchester and Greater Manchester is a huge music market. Demand has dropped off, but we want to re-establish Manchester’s position in the local marketplace.”
The venue, which is being designed by Populous, with Bam Construction soon to be appointed as main contractor, would become the largest indoor arena in the UK with 23,500 seats, overtaking Manchester Arena and the proposed 21,500 MSG Sphere in London.
But the development has proved controversial among some commentators who claim there is not enough demand to support two large arenas in Manchester.
During the consultation, Donnelly said that nearby Manchester Arena, whose operator John Sharkey has objected to the idea of a new arena, would not be its direct competitor.
He said: “We see our direct competition as the O2 arena [in London] and that’s the market we want to challenge.”
He added that the fact that Wembley Arena registered a record 157 shows in 2018 despite competition from London’s O2, suggests that two large arenas can function within the same city.
However, the two London arenas have a combined capacity of 32,000, some 10,000 less than the aggregate of the two Manchester venues, and the capital has a significantly higher population.
The project is Oak View’s first in the UK and sits within the wider Eastlands regeneration zone 2.5 miles miles from Manchester Arena. Donnelly said he did not believe that the relatively suburban location presented any disadvantage to the proposed new venue.
He said: “The city centre is growing eastward all the time. It takes as long to walk to Manchester Arena from Piccadilly [station] as it takes to walk [to the Eastlands site].”
The plans propose enhancing transport links between the city centre and the arena, which Donnelly said Oak View must get right if the arena is to be a success.
“We want to increase the capacity on the Metrolink and provide shuttle buses on the nights we have events. We will also invest in and upgrade walking routes.”
Oak View hopes that the arena will be completed and ready to stage its first concert in 2023.