OVG’s Co-op Live, UK’s Biggest Arena, Delays Opening Following Test Launch

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The United Kingdom’s biggest entertainment arena has pushed back its official opening by one week following a preview show that saw a number of tickets cancelled hours before it was due to start.

The 23,500-capacity Co-op Live was due to officially open on Tuesday (April 23) with the first of two consecutive performances by British comedian Peter Kay. Those shows have now been moved to the following week — Monday April 29 and Tuesday April 30 – to give operators “the extra time we need to continue testing” the building’s infrastructure and power supply, according to a venue spokesperson.

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“This is vital to satisfy the rigorous set of guidelines and protocols that are necessary for a venue of this size,” Co-op Live said in a statement on Monday (April 22).

The delay of the arena’s official opening comes less than 48 hours after the venue held its first public test event on Saturday, featuring performances by U.K. acts Everything Everything and headliner Rick Astley.

Billboard was present on the night and while both sets went smoothly onstage and were met with positive reactions from the thousands in attendance, they were preceded by Co-op Live cutting capacity just prior to doors opening in order to test the venue “effectively.”

As a result, a number of free tickets were cancelled before a note had been played on stage (the venue would not say how many tickets had been pulled. All invites for Saturday’s inaugural show were free to invited press, guests and workers who had helped design and construct the £365 million, or $465 million, building).

Affected ticket holders have been given complimentary passes to see the Black Keys perform at Co-op Live on Friday April 27, which will also have a reduced capacity of 10,000 as operators “continue to test the resilience of the venue and its operations.”

Co-Op Live Manchester England
The new Co-op Live arena in Manchester, England, which was due to open its doors on April 23.

Ticket holders for the postponed Peter Kay shows have been offered refunds if they are unable to make the new dates. “We are very sorry for the inconvenience that this change will undoubtedly cause for some,” said a venue spokesperson.

“I’m truly gutted as I know how disappointing this will be for everyone with tickets, but obviously it’s a brand-new venue and it’s important that everything is finished and safe for full capacity audiences,” said Kay in a statement.

Set to be the U.K.’s biggest and most sustainable arena, Co-op Live is the first major project outside the United States from Oak View Group (OVG), the Denver-headquartered global management and development giant co-founded in 2015 by Tim Leiweke and Irving Azoff, which operates more than 400 buildings globally.

The venue is an equal joint-venture partnership between OVG and City Football Group, the parent company of Manchester City football club, which is majority-owned by Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Also listed among Co-op Live’s investors is multi-Grammy-winning pop star Harry Styles, who grew up in the small Cheshire village of Holmes Chapel, around 30 miles outside of Manchester, and advised on aspects of the venue’s design.

OVG says Co-op Live will bring in between 750,000 and 1 million new ticket sales each year, creating more than 1,000 jobs and contributing £1.5 billion ($1.9 billion) to the local economy over the next 20 years.

Bookings already confirmed for 2024 include the Eagles, Take That, Liam Gallagher, Olivia Rodrigo, Nicki Minaj, Kid Cudi, Slipknot, Eric Clapton, Pearl Jam, Justin Timberlake, Noah Kahan and Megan Thee Stallion. In November, MTV’s Europe Music Awards (EMAs) will be held at the venue, marking the first time the event has been held in Manchester.

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