Co-op Live Arena boss quits after opening week nightmare – now opening shows moved AGAIN

Co-op Live

Gary Roden, the general manager of Manchester’s £365m new Co-Op Live Arena has dramatically resigned after the opening of the venue was delayed. 

In a statement the venue owners thanked Roden for his “help bringing the UK’s newest arena to live entertainment fans and wish him the best for the future” and said Rebecca Kane Burton, who has run London’s O2 Arena, would be interim general manager.

Last week’s planned official opening by comedian Peter Kay last Tuesday (23 April 2024) was initially moved to next Monday 29 and Tuesday 30 April.

Those shows have now been moved to 15 May 2024, and Peter Kay will now perform on 23 and 24 May 2024.

A statement from Co-op Live on Friday morning 26 April 2024 said: “Since making the difficult decision to postpone the live shows at Co-op Live due to take place this week, we have been undertaking an extensive protocol of testing critical procedures to ensure all areas are ready for fans. To ensure that we can run all shows safely, regretfully we have now had to take the decision to reschedule the planned The Black Keys and Peter Kay shows.”

“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 deeply appreciate the impact this will have on excited fans, and sincerely apologise for the inconvenience that this change will undoubtedly cause.

“Rescheduling Peter Kay and The Black Keys will give us the extra time we need to continue testing enhanced emergency communications and measures thoroughly. This is vital to satisfy the rigorous set of guidelines and protocols that are necessary for a venue of this size to ensure that our fans, artists and staff have the safest experience possible.

“As we make this very difficult decision, we thank Manchester City Council, Greater Manchester Police, Greater Manchester Fire Rescue Service, North West Ambulance Service, our staff and wider stakeholders for their continued dedication to Co-op Live.”

Tim Leiweke, Chairman and CEO, Oak View Group adds: “It’s always been very important to me that we only open Co-op Live when it is safe and appropriate to do so, and rescheduling The Black Keys and Peter Kay gives the dedicated team the time and space needed to finalise systems and measures. I would like to offer my sincerest apologies to every fan that has been impacted by this decision and others this week, and join the full team in thanking them for their continued patience and support as we prepare to open our doors.”

A statement from venue sponsor, the Co-op Group, adds: “As the naming rights sponsor for Co-op Live, we are very disappointed in the delayed opening of the venue and fully recognise the disruption this has caused to affected ticket holders, many of whom are Co-op Members.

 “Co-op Live is an incredible venue and is a force for good for Manchester, our region and the UK as a whole.  We look forward to seeing the venue fully open in accordance with the timescales provided by OVG today.”

How they hope Co-op Live will look one day

The departure of Roden came after he came under further attack from music venues in the region after his comments about grassroots music venues being “poorly run” and dismissing appeals for a £1 ticket levy to help them as “too simplistic”. 

“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.

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.