Co Op Live Arena
OVG said Styles will be actively involved in the development of Co-op Live

Styles takes stake in Manchester venue

Neil Tague

Co-op Live, the £350m music arena to be built at Eastlands, has announced an investment tie-up with musician Harry Styles described by developer Oak View Group as a “huge coup”.

The investment for an undisclosed sum is billed as Styles’ “first move into the world of business”. The arena at the Etihad campus was approved in September, having been vigorously opposed by ASM Global, the owner of the city centre Manchester Arena, which is progressing its own improvement plan. Co-op Live is scheduled to open in 2023.

OVG said that Styles, who first shot to fame as part of One Direction, will “take more than just a capital interest” and will be actively involved in the development of the project.

Styles’ investment was described to Place North West as a “significant figure that makes Harry a minority equity shareholder in the arena” and that “beyond just purely being an investor, he will be supporting the design team by giving an artist’s view on how to deliver the world’s best backstage artist spaces as well as premium and hospitality areas”.

To this end, he will work alongside OVG’s UK and international team, led by Tim Leiweke, the ex-Anschutz group chief executive who founded OVG in 2015.

Styles said: “I’m incredibly proud and excited to be partnering with OVG on the plans for Co-op Live.

“I was drawn to this project on every level, from the opportunities it brings, to the contribution it will make to the city, and most importantly, that it will allow even more live music to thrive in Manchester. It’s just another sign that this amazing city continues to grow.”

Francesca Bodie, OVG’s president of business development, said: “At OVG our vision is driven by a unique view that puts fans and artists first in every decision we make. There’s no artist in the world right now better placed than Harry to advise us on delivering a first-class experience for visitors and artists at Co-op Live.”

“We’re focused on building one of the world’s best arenas in Manchester and Harry’s advice and consultation is going to be invaluable as we work to deliver that.”

OVG’s intention is for Co-op Live to have the largest standing floor capacity of any UK arena, also offering a range of premium tickets. The £100m naming rights deal with Co-op was announced shortly after planning consent was secured.

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Harry Styles is from Holmes Chapel but has often claimed to be from Manchester, as has Gary Barlow from Frodsham and the 1975 from Wilmslow.

By Dan

Nice to see Co-op opening up a new larger store in the area.

By DentonWig

What’s wrong with that? People like to associate with their nearest big city. Not everyone is a boring suburbanite

By Anonymous

It’s “a huge coup” and a huge Co-Op

By Tim

For Gary Barlow & 1975, Manchester is where their careers began. Wilmslow is also a Manchester suburb.

By Anon

To put it simply, people love being part of Manchester.

I live in north Lancashire and the younger lot are obsessed with the city.

When I was growing up, it was where the hooligans were raised, although it’s been pretty popular for a while. It’s morphed into something pretty powerful now.

By Anonymous

As my 16-yr-old daughter is wildly & uncontrollably enthused not only by Harry’s new video being launched this PM but also by him putting his name to Co-op LIve & because I’m in PR/comms, let me be the first to reach out for her to ‘meet & greet’ Harry & cough up for tickets for his now inevitable concert there. In all seriousness, this is more fantastically positive PR for Manchester in these otherwise testing times, cementing our status as the 2nd City with not one but two world-class arenas.

By Justin Strong