OVG Eastlands Arena.
The proposed Eastlands arena has been designed by Populous

OVG shores up case for second Manchester arena

Sarah Townsend

There is market potential for an additional 2.5 million annual arena visits by 2035, strengthening the argument in favour of a second arena in the city, according to a report commissioned by developer Oak View Group.

US-based OVG wants to build a second arena in the Eastlands area of Manchester and says market demand is sufficient to support two commercially viable venues.

Meanwhile, the operator of the existing Manchester Arena, ASM Global, is pressing ahead with plans for a two-phase redevelopment of the entertainment venue, intended to more than double its standing capacity from 3,000 to 7,000 people, taking the total to 24,000.

OVG has said its rival 23,500-capacity arena, designed by Populous architects on a site at the Etihad campus would “support the growth of East Manchester as a thriving community and world-leading sporting and leisure destination”.

But ASM strongly disagrees with OVG’s arguments and claims that the introduction of a second arena to Manchester would drive events and footfall to an out-of-town location, with a negative impact on the city centre economy.

The two firms are engaged in an increasingly competitive war of words as OVG prepares for its planning application submitted in April to go before Manchester City Council’s planning committee in September.

As part of a string of documents OVG is required to submit to the council as part of the planning process, the company has lodged a report, produced on its behalf by Amion Consulting and the Audience Agency, stating that there is more than enough latent demand in the Manchester market to support two arenas.

Analysis of the population make-up within a 90-minute catchment of the city centre show there is the potential for an additional 2.05 million annual arena visits by 2035, according to the report, which can be found on the council’s planning portal.

“This gives considerable headroom to OVG’s independent growth forecast of [its arena accounting for] an additional attendance of 1.27 million people by 2035,” it said.

Manchester city centre -including its retaurants, shops and hotels, will receive £95m out of the total projected audience spend of £165m by visitors to two arenas each year from opening in late 2023, the report added. This represents a doubling of current expenditure by audiences at Manchester Arena.

The report also claims that two arenas, offering more diverse programming and world-class visitor experiences, would help Manchester to re-capture fans currently choosing to travel to other cities.

The “limitations of the existing arena” mean Manchester is losing out on event hosting to places outside the catchment, such as London and Birmingham, because it does not have the facilities or programming that match competitors’ offer, it said.

It also noted that population within the catchment is projected to grow by 8% by 2035, which will provide additional market growth.

Mark Donnelly, OVG’s chief operating officer, said: “We’re fully confident that Manchester’s market is strong enough to support two arenas, and that’s why we’re committing to a £350m private investment.

“[Our previous] detailed economic analysis has been fully corroborated by this new independent public opinion research, which vindicates our confidence in the city. It also shows the wider benefits the arena will bring to the city centre in extra visitor spend.”

He added: “We believe the ‘Eastern Gateway’ [a development zone of East Manchester that includes Eastlands] can have a similar contribution to that made by Salford’s Media City in the west.”

OVG’s submission included a comment from Mike Blackburn, chair of inward investment agency Marketing Manchester, in which he stated: “A second arena will grow the overall economy and it will bring more visitors and more much-needed expenditure for city centre shops, restaurants, clubs and bars alike.

“And it will serve as a reminder to those aware of our cultural heritage, that Manchester remains a globally significant entertainment destination.”

Meanwhile, ASM Global launched a consultation last week on the first phase of its proposed revamp of the existing arena, designed by architecture firm HOK with Avison Young as planning consultant.



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The big events will move here and the Corn Exchange and Printworks will close down.

By Dan

I think the view that the proposed arena is ‘out of town’ is ridiculous given the expansion of the city centre ever outward, particularly to the east out from the NQ to Ancoats. By the time it is completed the area will be just be another quarter of the city centre. Like the article says, it can do to the area what Media City has done to the west in Salford.

By Bradford

Until the public transport is fully upgraded, this is a really daft thing to do.

Getting a tram after a gig at The Etihad is a nightmare.

By Observer

Nothing in the city center will shut down. 1000s of people visit bars in the city center before and after games and concerts at the Etihad and this will be no different. This will be great for the region and bring much needed development and jobs to the area. As Bradford says this will be the city center soon anyway. ASM have had it far to easy for far to long. You don’t get to sit on your hands in a city like Manchester.

By Bob

Two Huge venues in the city…Bring on the competition and let them bring in even more investment. It can only be a good thing for the Northwest .

By Nve

This is great for the area and the city. Unfortunately for ASM crying about new competition isn’t reason enough for it not to be built. We need more tram links though. Ashton old rd from Ashton moss to Piccadilly with a stop at Alan Turing way and one that Carries on from there into shudehill through Alan Turing way and past the new arena . Might cost some wonga but it’s money worth spending, can get people from tameside to college , to Piccadilly, into town, into the new arena.

By Tom

Eastlands is a 15 minute walk from Piccadilly, let’s do this!

By Sensible

Unfortunately visitors won`t have the majestic views over a tidal river when arriving. I think the whole plan is shortsighted.

By Liverpool romance

awful design for an arena, even the fancy lights don’t rescue it

By Anonymous

To say the new arena will take customer away from the city centre is nonsense. Whenever United or City are at home or test matches are played at Old Trafford or concerts take place at the Eithad the City Centre is full of visitors the same will happen with the new arena.

By Monty

Liverpool Romance your arena holds 11,000 people we are talking about having two areas in Manchester holding more than 23,000 each – not in the same league.

By Anonymous

Why would the punters be spending twice as much as they are at MA? Manchester isnt London or Birmingham, thats why it cannot match what they can attract. I am sure someone has done some propper figures, because based upon these it does not stack up.

By Anonymous

Ah LiverpoolRomance your passion is admirable if a little myopic. Be content with your lovely little stadium …and your zip wire !

By John

Looks like even in these different times investment in Manchester continues a pace. This is going to be great for the City.

By Anonymous

Mancs have got the support and favouritism of the govenment. That is the same government who wanted to clean Liverpool off the map in the 80s.

By Gaz Riley

Bradford’s post about this becoming an extension to the city centre is really interesting. There is something here, at least if not the city centre, but a new inner-city neighbourhood, something Manchester needs more of. It reminds me a bit of the sports centre in Melbourne. That’s about 15 minutes walk from the edge of the city centre. Eastlands is about 20 minutes walk, though far less urban and the edge is being a generous term. That said, if the area inbetween was the next phase of Manchester’s urban development, it could really become a nice & lively neighbourhood


Manchester certainly isn’t Birmingham it is way superior in every aspect.

By Anonymous

Oh hi Gaz with your original comments. This is a private company investing in Manchester, nothing to do with the government and everything to do with the city’s track record in this industry, it also being 2nd/3rd largest urban area in the country and located slab bang in the middle of Liverpool, Leeds & Sheffield. It really is just common sense.

By Anon

By Anonymous No Manchester isn’t London or Birmingham, Manchester has its own unique identity. I visit Birmingham regularly and it’s a great city, people still bang on about it being the second city, I’m sorry but I don’t see it. Apart from the city of Birmingham having a larger population (which if you use Birmingham’s reasoning would make it the largest city in the UK) I think Manchester beats Birmingham in almost every area.

The current arena was for many years the busiest arena in the world, it has declined slightly because the current owners have failed to invest and improve the arena over the years. The new arena will provided state of the art facilities that will allow Manchester to host a much more varied number of events, and also provide healthy competition. By the way, if you are in any doubt as to where the two cities stand when it comes to development maybe you should watch the upcoming program Manctopia BBC 2 – It’s not all roses in Manc and we need to improve in many areas, but the things we do well, we do better than any other regional city.

By Manc Man

Yeah Manchester rocks. Fantastic city.

By Anonymous

I think it’s good that people think Birmingham is the second city.
Manchester does it’s own thing and is successful in its own way with it’s own unique culture. Birmingham is constantly looking for London’s approval and struggles with it’s identity.
To be fair Birmingham is making a bit of a comeback though due to development associated with HS2 and is attempting to get an edge that Manchester does so well and easily.

By Anonymous

Why new build! why don’t we just use the Etihad its never full


Hi Gaz, actually it’s Liverpool that has the support and favouritism of government. Nowhere else has received as much regeneration cash as Merseyside in fact look at your Pier Head, virtually every single bit of public realm, cultural venue, arena, conference centre, office and even the Mann Island apartment block has been built by or heavily subsidised by government. Merseyrail’s operating costs are also subsidised by government unlike metrolink and is amongst the most heavily subsidised franchise in the country.

I know Liverpudlians try to make hey out of the ‘managed decline’ myth as a marker of the city’s victimhood but if you read into it, there was never any policy of the sort. In fact the opposite was true, it was minutes of a meeting discussing whether all the government funding that HAD gone into Liverpool – which was considerable – was like throwing good money after bad. And that’s as far as it went.

So you see, rather than Liverpool being a victim the truth is rather different. It’s actually received far more form government than almost anywhere else in the country.

By Reality

Liverpool romance! Now that’s what you call an oxymoron. Unbelievable.

By Phildered

Bring it on I say. East Manchester needs this plus MCR arena is a complete dump with terrible acoustics.

By Scoie73

Manc Man, you’re right, Birmingham has a much greater catchment population, thats partly the point. Given, and I accept basic figures in the article, its hard to see how two Arena in Manchester can do it. An Arena and Convention Center are different audiences, but two Arenas, one saying it can get twice the £££ of the other…with growth being only 2+M in 15 years I cant see two being viable….unless one of them becomes a mixed convention centre. I do think the view of extending the City centre eastward is a good one, but if this one works, the other is finished.

By Anonymous

Anonymous, the current Arena’s catchment extends much further than the GM area. People travel in from Sheffield, Leeds, Liverpool, Preston, Crewe, Blackpool, Newcastle, even Scotland to see acts. When some artists have only 2-3 arena locations in the UK as part of their tour, the ‘catchment’ adjusts accordingly.

By Anon

And so people from Manchester go to areans in Liverpool and Newcastle….and even Birmingham. The arguement isnt about catchment area, its about the figures in the article that dont support two successful arenas.

By Anonymous

It would be unusual to go from Manchester to Liverpool or Newcastle as they rarely have events that Manchester doesn’t have

By Lol

It’s all about competition and choice.

By Darren born bred.

What LOL, you need to get out…..Kids today will tour with a band, unless those kids in Manchester wont go outside of Manchester. The Eagles were on in Liverpool last year, there were people from Manchester, Dublin, and Birmingham there……..the Eagles went to each of those cities too. Loads of Mancs go to Liverpool ask where Mick Hucknall and the Gallaghers, Jot Division, The Stone Roses, went before they tried Manchester! and before you Mancs say you saw them in XYZ place in Salford Students Union….thats not the point

By Anonymous

Anonymous…indirectly we are talking about catchment I’m afraid. The studies put in to get to these claimed figures will understand the change in customer catchment area depending on the size and popularity of an artist event. Take the NFL in London for example, NFL fans will travel from the whole country and even mainland Europe to watch it at Wembley/Spurs stadium. This proposed arena can also be reconfigured relatively quickly and easily from 10k up to 24k – I wouldn’t be surprised if they are intending to grab some of the market share off Leeds and Liverpool’s arenas too.

By Anon