Co-op Live Arena fails to fix safety problems for official opening this week

Manchester’s brand new £365m music arena, Co-op Live has failed to fix basic safety and logistics issues ahead of a planned official opening by comedian Peter Kay tomorrow night (23 April 2024).

A statement released on 22 April at 1pm said: “Following a test event on Saturday, regretfully we have made the difficult decision to reschedule our two opening performances by Peter Kay. These dates will move from Tuesday 23 April and Wednesday 24 April to Monday 29 and Tuesday 30 April.

“It is critical to ensure we have a consistent total power supply to our fully electric sustainable venue, the completion of which is a few days behind. Rescheduling gives us the extra time we need to continue testing thoroughly. This is vital to satisfy the rigorous set of guidelines and protocols that are necessary for a venue of this size.

“Peter Kay has very graciously agreed to perform his record-breaking comedy at Co-op Live on 29 (rescheduled from 23) and 30 (rescheduled from 24) April 2024. All tickets remain valid and ticket holders will be contacted by their point of purchase. Refunds will be available for those who can no longer attend. We are very sorry for the inconvenience that this change will undoubtedly cause for some.”

Peter Kay said: “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.

“Fortunately, we’ve been able to reschedule the shows to next week, (I’ll have to miss my Bums & Tums class) but hopefully I’ll see you then.”
The new venue will host The Black Keys on Saturday 27 April in the lower bowl with 10,000 fans as planned, and will “continue to test the resilience of the venue and its operations”.

At the test event on Saturday 20 April 2024, attended by, thousands of tickets were cancelled just hours before an opening show featuring Rick Astley, due to power supply issues and concerns from safety officers.  

In a statement the Arena said: “We’re busy putting the finishing touches on Co-op Live, and we are looking forward to Co-op Live becoming the pre-eminent arena in the UK upon opening.

“As a part of the opening process, we are in the midst of an extensive protocol of testing critical procedures. To enable us to test the spaces effectively, we have made the difficult decision to reduce overall capacity for today’s test event.”

After that the venue sought to compensate fans by offering them free tickets to see The Black Keys.

Located next to Manchester City FC’s Etihad stadium, Co-op Live has been built by City Football Group in partnership with Oakview Music Group, co-founded by US music mogul Irving Azoff.

On arrival at the event on Saturday, attended by 4000 people, including many involved in building the new arena, media, and purchasers of long term hospitality packages, the ticketing system seemed to confuse guests.

Only a small seating area was open on the first tier, while the entire upper tier was closed.

There were basic problems such as hand driers in the women’s toilets not working. There were long queues in the ground floor Marketplace bar area and food court for the free food and drink, and a heavy security presence around the site with fire marshals and safety experts checking and monitoring the systems in place.

One business owner who has bought a hospitality package told “It was chaos. I can’t see it being ready for Tuesday, but miracles do happen. I’m sure it’ll all work out well as time moves on.”

Another commented: “It’s a great space, but they’ve clearly got a lot of work to do to be ready.”

On the plus side the much heralded acoustics and stage set for Astley, and support acts Everything Everything and Danny from McFly, appeared to be of the high quality music fans have been promised.

Local Councillor Thomas Robinson, who attended the opening ceremony in the afternoon described it as “Simply extraordinary, a world class event space dedicated to giving back to the communities of East Manchester!”