Sign-off nears for £350m Eastlands arena

Plans for a 23,500-capacity arena from US-based stadium developer Oak View Group are due to be approved by Manchester City Council next week despite conflict over the level of demand for a second arena in the city. 

OVG’s arena, designed by architect Populous, would occupy a 5.5-acre site close to Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium off Alan Turing Way, next to the Ashton Canal.  

A report by city council planning officers said: “The proposal aspires to bring the best arena in Europe to Manchester, attracting the world’s top events within a building that sets new standards in terms of design and environmental sustainability. 

“This [project] represents a £350m investment into the city and East Manchester.” 

ASM Global, the firm that operates the recently rebranded AO Arena in the city centre, has repeatedly voiced concerns about the rival project from the outset, and says that OVG’s claims that Manchester can support two large arenas are based on flawed and contradictory market research. 

However, Manchester planning officers said that the market analysis, carried out by consultancies Ekosgen and PWC, was “significant” and “underpins the case for a second area”. 

OVG Eastlands Arena aerial

The venue would be located in Eastlands close to the Etihad Stadium

Based on the findings of the research, OVG claims there is market potential for an additional 2.5 million annual arena visits in Manchester by 2035. 

The plans have received more than 500 objections, including from asset manager DTZ Investors and restaurant group Living Ventures, which both claim an out-of-town arena would impact negatively on the city centre.  

Mark Donnelly, chief operating officer of OVG, said: “We’re pleased that our proposals for a new world-class arena in Manchester will be considered by the council’s planning committee next week. We welcome the planning officer’s recommendation for approval and look forward to presenting the plans to the committee.” 

ASM Global was contacted for comment. 

In March, ASM Global unveiled plans for a two-phase upgrade of its city centre venue to increase its capacity to 24,000. Plans for the first phase, the redesign of the Hunts Bank entrance, were lodged earlier this month. 

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