The first early-stage designs for the proposed arena at Manchester’s Etihad Campus have been revealed as Oak View Group looks to gauge public opinion on its potential £300m investment, which has already proved to be controversial.
The group has kicked off the first round of consultation on the arena at the Etihad, which is to be built on a vacant site owned by City Football Group on the approach to the Etihad Stadium, off Alan Turing Way.
The £300m investment has already moved at pace, with the first rumblings emerging in the summer. Populous been engaged as architect and preliminary designs have now been revealed for the first time.
The opening round of consultation is looking to gauge public views on how the arena will impact the local area, particularly in terms of traffic, one of the main sticking points already raised by local residents. More details are expected to follow at a second round of consultation later in the year.
The proposals have proved controversial with Manchester Arena and city centre businesses, who objected to the masterplan consultation due to fears a competitor arena would draw visitors away from the city centre.
The operator of Manchester Arena spoke out against the proposals, with executive vice-president of SMG John Sharkey telling Place North West “it is just not possible” for the city to support two arenas, “and if it’s not ours then the city will lose 1.2 million people coming through it, and could turn to tumbleweed.”
Sharkey added the proposals were “absolutely crazy” and “purely opportunistic”.
Responding to the criticism, representatives from Oak View at the event pointed out other cities in the UK – Birmingham and London – which support more than one arena; a similar approach in Manchester would help the city become more competitive on both a European and global scale.
Oak View argued the arena would be able to cater for a “wide range of event types” with the “large, enclosed venue” using “cutting-edge design and technology, as well as first class customer service to provide a truly outstanding event experience for a multitude of events”.
Oak View Group is currently leading projects in New York, Milan, Seattle, Austin, and Palm Springs, but the Manchester arena will be its first foray into the UK.
The group said funding would “move quickly” once a feasibility study is completed and planning permission is secured, with the arena to be 100% privately funded, through a mix of Oak View’s own funding along with debt and equity backing.
Manchester City Council has also supported the development of an arena through its Eastlands masterplan, which went out to consultation earlier this year.
Under the group’s timeline, a second round of consultation will take place before Christmas, with a planning application coming forward subject to feasibility studies and consultation feedback in early 2020. A contractor is yet to be appointed.
Three further consultation events are taking place this week. These are:
- Tuesday 15 October, 2.30pm to 7pm – Bridge 5 Mill, 22A Beswick Street, M4 7HR
- Wednesday 16 October, 10.30am to 1pm – Miles Platting Community Library, Victoria Mill Community Centre, Lower Vickers Street, M40 7LJ
- Thursday 17 October, 2.30pm to 7pm – Beswick Library, 60 Grey Mare Lane, M11 3D