NEW VENUE FOR
Oak View Group’s plans for a new world-class arena in Manchester have been given the green light by the council’s planning committee.
Manchester is world-famous for its incredible contribution to music, and we want to build on that legacy with our proposals for a new venue. Our vision is to create the best arena in Europe, bringing the world’s top events to East Manchester.
Oak View Group (OVG) is leading the project. OVG was founded in 2015 by Tim Leiweke and Irving Azoff, two of live entertainment’s most influential executives, to change the way business is done in the music, sports and live entertainment industry.
OVG is developing the world’s most advanced arenas in the US and Europe and – if approved – a new Manchester venue would be OVG’s first arena in the UK. OVG also offers its expertise to the live entertainment market in a range of other ways, including delivering an international alliance of leading global venues and advising the industry on security best practice.
Manchester is a city with a proud music and sporting history and a huge appetite for live entertainment. The city is the birthplace of internationally successful bands and underground music movements, it hosts more gigs per person than anywhere else in the UK and supports a thriving variety of venues, record labels and music shops.
Yet Manchester is also one of the largest cities for sporting events outside of London, with the city’s sporting prowess extending well beyond football and cricket and including cycling, squash, polo, and Taekwondo to name a few.
A new venue, with world-leading technology, would help to grow the overall entertainment market within Manchester, and attract a wider range of larger and more impressive live events.
An exercise has been undertaken to assess sites across the city and beyond in terms of suitability, availability and viability. This demonstrates that the Etihad Campus is the most appropriate and sustainable location for a second arena taking into account ownership, size and configuration, access to the city centre and public transport as well as the opportunity to support its role as a world-class sporting and leisure destination.
The site is 4.46 hectares and is currently used as a part-time overspill surface level car park for people attending events associated with the Stadium. It does not form part of the core car parking capacity of the stadium and the site has long been identified as a potential major development site.
Our vision is to create the best venue in Europe, bringing the world’s top events to Manchester. Our proposals focus on a number of key elements to bring this vision to life – proximity (a design ethos that seeks to bring everyone closer to the stage), inclusivity (design features for those with additional needs have been built in from the start), flexibility (fully retractable seating to provide a highly flexible space for different types of events including the largest standing floor area in the UK) and experience (the breadth and quality of the customer experience alongside the cutting edge audio and visual technology will provide an unrivalled experience.)
The building will be an iconic Manchester building and will have a striking contemporary feel that is appropriate for the area and Manchester. The venue will respond to events and activities across the campus and the LED screens and external lighting will activate the building and give the venue a unique visual identity. The building form and material will respond to the requirements of the building and the space planning, and is designed to be energy efficient and sustainable.
The proposed venue will be incredibly flexible, offering a range of different configurations to host music, sporting, family and other entertainment events. The building has been designed to offer the largest possible capacity in each configuration whilst at the same time ensuring that the venue is intimate and each seat is close to the stage or the action.
With a growing market in the UK for live entertainment, including music, family shows and sport, analysis undertaken as part of the planning and design process by Ekosgen and PWC show that Manchester’s economic and cultural strength supports two successful arenas. Analysis indicates new arenas drive overall growth in the market, and the opening of a new arena has never caused the closing of an existing arena in a single city or overlapping catchment area, and there are various examples of arenas adapting their market positioning and continuing to thrive. We note that since our proposals have been announced the existing arena has announced investment plans which we welcome – this can only benefit Manchester as a whole.
Due to event scheduling and coordination, only a limited number of events are expected to take place at the arena and Etihad Stadium at the same time. In such cases, OVG will work closely with Manchester City Football Club, the Council, the Police and the local community to manage potential event clashes and ensure there are joint event operations plans which will minimise the potential impact on the community.
Extensive consultation with local communities and stakeholders is at the heart of our development process. We have run two phases of public consultation (October-December) which included 9 consultation events across East Manchester.
We have run two phases of public consultation (October-December 2019), and have undertaken a number of feasibility studies and other consultations with key stakeholders to help inform our plans. We have taken all the feedback onboard to ensure our plans reflect the comments we have received, and have submitted a planning application which is currently being considered by Manchester City Council.
BENEFITS FOR THE LOCAL COMMUNITY
We want those who live and work in the area to benefit from having a state-of-the-art venue nearby. In addition to providing over 1,000 job opportunities during operation and around 3,500 jobs during its three year construction period, we want to create spaces for local people to enjoy, such as new canal side spaces. We will also invest in charitable and local causes and improving walking and cycling routes into the city centre – and will work with local partners to provide community activities and use of the arena outside regular events.
A new venue would provide over 1,000 jobs across a wider range of job roles including customer service, stewarding, event management, sales and operations – and we want as many of these jobs as possible to go to local people. We’re already in discussions to inform our jobs and skills strategy, which will include apprenticeships, local jobs fairs, specific skills training in partnership with local education providers and measures to encourage people getting back into work. In addition to jobs created once the venue is up and running, a three year construction period would support around 3,500 jobs.
A new venue would also provide a significant boost to Manchester’s visitor economy – which currently supports over 41,000 jobs. That’s because a new venue would generate a significant number of indirect jobs – anticipated to be around 1,400 – through the supply chain, for example, at local restaurants, bars and shops, and on accommodation and transport.
Those working on-site, during construction and when the arena is opened, will be paid at least the Manchester Living Wage, which is significantly more than the statutory minimum. We believe this is the right and responsible policy and will continue to work closely with the GMCA and support the principles of the Good Employment Charter.
ENVIRONMENT AND SUSTAINABILITY
The proposed arena will aim to be the most sustainable UK arena and one of the most sustainable in the world. The plans build on sustainability initiatives and frameworks already in place at the Etihad Campus. The proposals are also a reflection of OVG’s commitment to ensuring that they lead the industry response to the climate change emergency through sustainable design, operations, and active campaigning and partnerships.
We want to minimise any disruption to local residents, including noise impacts. That’s why our fully enclosed building design will prevent potential noise breakout from the venue.
Events Management Plans will be put in place before the operation of each event at the venue and will include measures on how to manage crowd flow entering and exiting the venue.
OVG also plans to maintain communication with the local community throughout the build and operational phases of the project. There will be open days, access to tickets and a direct phone and email address for anyone to contact us.
Inclusivity is at the heart of the design, with proposals considering not only barriers that form physical constraints but also barriers experienced by people who are neurodivergent, experience mental ill health, who are deaf, deafened and hard-of-hearing and people who are blind or partially sighted. The venue is aiming to be certified for the Attitude is Everything Gold Standard on opening (which is the highest accreditation possible).
The site is very close to the city centre and there are strong linkages via sustainable modes of transport, which will be strengthened via the application proposals. Transport studies show that 40% of visitors (or approximately 20,000 people) to the Etihad Stadium on match days currently arrive by non-car modes. This reflects the maximum capacity of most arena events and therefore clearly demonstrates the opportunity afforded by this location for sustainable transport enhancements. The venue will work with residents to implement an effective Controlled Parking Zone around the site and will adopt proactive messaging around events to promote and encourage non car options.
Our transport and movement strategy aims to make sustainable transport choices the quickest, easiest and best way to access the venue and actively discourage the use of cars. Proposals to come out of our consultation period include extensions to the existing Controlled Parking Zone (CPZ) to address concerns of local residents, improved walking routes and cycling infrastructure, and promoting and incentivising sustainable transport modes.