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“This will take us to the next level”: £365m Co-op Live arena opens its doors in Manchester with star-studded test event

Rick Astley

Co-op Live opened its doors to workers, media and music fans on Saturday for a welcome ceremony and star-studded test event featuring performances from Rick Astley, Everything Everything and a surprise set from McFly’s Danny Jones.

The £365m venue in Manchester, which has a capacity of around 23,500, is set to officially open its doors this week, kicking off with Peter Kay’s tour on Tuesday and will play host to MTV’s EMAs later this year.

It was all off to a smooth start until thousands of people, preparing to attend the test event, were notified that their tickets would be cancelled thanks to “an extensive protocol of testing critical procedures”. Co-op Live apologised for having to make a “difficult decision” to reduce overall capacity. It was a “sh*t thing to do”, one of those guests told us, who had been gearing up to head into the venue. Those affected were offered replacement tickets to a gig for The Black Keys on 27 April instead.

Meanwhile inside the event at the welcome ceremony, Co-op Live’s executive director and general manager Gary Roden praised the “monumental effort, people and energy” behind developing the “game-changing” venue that already has 55 shows on sale selling over 700,000 tickets.

“What we’re unveiling today is truly special,” he said. “The process of developing this building has been built on the foundation of partnership,” he explained, thanking Co-op Live’s CEO and co-founder, Tim Leiweke, for his leadership and for “choosing Manchester”.

“The vision for this place will transform the city, the region and even the country in terms of what we can do for live entertainment.”

Bev Craig, leader of Manchester City Council, also took to the stage and hailed how the venue will create “exciting opportunities”, jobs and praised the work it is doing around supporting local businesses.

She reflected on the last 12 months in Manchester, with Co-op Live now joining other venues Aviva Studios and “significant” events from the recent MTV EMAs announcement and the Chanel Metiers d’Art event descending on the city in December.

“It does feel that this city is going places. This is our moment,” she told the room. “This will take us to the next level.”

Referencing Manchester’s rich music heritage, she added: “I’m super excited about the years have to come”.

The test event then opened, treating guests to performances from The KTNAs, Everything Everything, a surprise performance from McFly’s Danny Jones, and Rick Astley.

Since publishing this story, we’ve since learnt that Co-op Live has cancelled its highly anticipated opening event, starring Bolton comic Peter Kay, with just 24-hours notice – rescheduling to Monday 29 and Tuesday 30 April instead. The “next level” might need to wait a few more days … read more about the decision here.

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