Largest Indoor UK Arena Gets Approval


Plans for what will be the largest indoor arena in the United Kingdom have been approved. Manchester City Council greenlit the Populous-designed project late last month.

Following the approval, developer Oak View Group announced that it has joined forced with the Co-op Group and that the Manchester structure will be named Co-op Live.

About the Project

Plans for the 23,500-seat multi-purpose arena were submitted at the beginning of April. The arena is expected to sit on a 2.2-hectare (roughly 5.4-acre) plot, just north of the city’s Etihad Stadium, home of the Manchester City football club.

Focusing in the new arena’s design, renderings reveal a modern, sleek shape, finished with a black facade.

Populous notes that the venue’s, “bold contemporary form complements the public realm and combines aesthetic beauty with a recognizable and identifiable profile that will be globally recognized as being inspired by contemporary Manchester.”

Inside, the arena is to be comprised of a main auditorium complete with ringed LED features ideal for concerts, sports and other entertainment events. The space is reported to have the most standing capacity in the U.K., thanks to the arena’s ability to retract seats located on the lower tier. Reports on the design also note that the upper tier of the venue is lower than most arenas as well. In fact, Populous predicts that visitors will be closer to the stage than any other arena in Europe, given the structure’s “transformer-like bowl.”

A concourse, various lounge spaces and back-of-house areas are also included in the design plans.

“This ground-breaking venue will set new benchmarks in sustainable arena design, as well as creating an experience and form that sits perfectly within Manchester’s architectural context and vibrant community,” said Declan Sharkey, senior principal and project architect at Populous, in a press statement. “We are delighted to be working with Oak View Group on its exciting vision for East Manchester.”

Additional features include a grounded lower masonry plinth, upper lightweight stepped box, architectural lighting and photovoltaic panels on the roof.

According to The Architect’s Newspaper, all aspects of the project were specifically designed to meet Manchester’s Zero Carbon 2038 commitments. Once complete, the arena will rank among the most environmentally sensitive arenas in the world, aiming to also be a low-waste facility. The facility is also aiming to achieve a Gold Standard certification from charity Attitude is Everything, which focuses on improving access at live music events for deaf and disabled individuals.

What Now

“We’re delighted that Manchester City Council has given our proposals the go-ahead, and we can’t wait to get started, bringing a £350million private investment, creating thousands of jobs, and delivering one of the world’s best arenas to this amazing city,” said Tim Leiweke, Co-Founder and CEO of OVG.

“I want to say a huge thank-you to the community for taking the time to listen to what we had to say and providing feedback that ensured this arena is of Manchester, for Manchester and by Manchester.”

Following final confirmation from national planning authorities, OVG said that it plans to begin work as early as November, bringing 3,350 jobs during a three-year construction phase. The arena will also aim to create 1,000 jobs when it opens, which is projected to happen in 2023.

OVG has also went on record to say that it is committed to pay all employees at least the Manchester Living Wage and will prioritize hiring local workers.


Tagged categories: Color + Design; Design; Design build; EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa); EU; Stadiums/Sports Facilities; Upcoming projects

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