Access All Areas December 2021 - Page 20

“ The investment in a next generation of arenas in cities around the UK is a clear signal of the confidence in the UK ’ s live entertainment market ”

WINTER 21 / 22 | FEATURE

new opening has the most direct competition is in Manchester . The £ 350 million Co-op Live venue , located next to Manchester City football club ’ s Etihad Stadium in the Eastlands area of Manchester , is expected to open in 2023 . The project is overseen by US-based Oak View Group ( OVG ), which was formed in 2015 by former AEG CEO Tim Leiweke and former chairman of Live Nation Entertainment and artiste manager Irving Azoff .
Both OVG and ASM Global , which operates the AO Arena and was created by the merger of AEG Facilities and SMG Europe , have cited independent reports which support their opposing views on whether Manchester can support a second arena of a similar size .
OVG EVP facilities development Brian Kabatznick says construction of the new venue is on target for the 2023 opening : “ There are currently up to 400 people working on-site daily and , over the three-year construction period it will directly create more
than 3,350 full-time jobs .” Unsurprisingly , Kabatznick believes Manchester , and the UK more broadly , can sustain the arena newcomers .
He says , “ The investment in a next generation of arenas in cities around the UK is a clear signal of the confidence in the UK ’ s live entertainment market . There is a demonstrable appetite for new venues capable of hosting a diverse range of music , family , sports , corporate and e-sport events .
“ Through our £ 350m private investment in Manchester in partnership with City Football Group and Harry Styles , and through our partnership with Live Nation for the new arena in Cardiff in cooperation with Cardiff Council , we are backing that confidence with significant financial commitments .”
Pandemic priorities The future certainly looks bright for the arena sector but having survived a torrid time during 14 months of pandemic lockdown , many venues have seen a higher than usual number of ticketholder no shows at events since the full-capacity reopening in July .
At the ASM Global operated SSE Arena Wembley ( 12,500 ), VP & general manager John Drury says that the venue team worked hard to bring projects into the building during the lockdown .
“ We were probably one of the busiest , if not the busiest arena in the UK , through the closure period , filming Danny Dyer ’ s The Wall , The Masked Dancer series , we had behind
“ The investment in a next generation of arenas in cities around the UK is a clear signal of the confidence in the UK ’ s live entertainment market ”
closed doors boxing with Matchroom , and then we were lucky to get the Anthony Joshua fight in December last year with just 1,000 people in the audience ,” he says .
With the UK ’ s arenas mostly dormant for so long , its representative body the National Arenas Association ( NAA ) was kept busy with Covidrelated issues .
“ Our overwhelming priority during that time was working with DCMS to try to mitigate the impact on the live events sector ,” says Lucy Noble , who as well as being the NAA chair is artistic director at the Royal Albert
Hall ( 5,272 ). “ One new development that has been incredibly helpful is the formation of the new LIVE [ Live Industry Venues and Entertainment ] group , which draws together 13 live music industry associations . The NAA is a founding member of the group , and it feels that for the first time we have a clear , industry-wide voice , which has been invaluable during our discussions with government .”
The Royal Albert Hall , which celebrates its 150th Anniversary this year , was in line with many arenas in seeing a little initial uncertainty among concertgoers after the reopening , but Noble says business has picked up strongly since .
“ Business has been very good ”, she says . “ We have had shows almost
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