Dedicated to the Business of Contemporary Live Music

Manchester Arena fears plan for rival will damage business

25 June 2019

THE OPERATOR of Manchester Arena (cap. 21,000) fears for the future of the venue if the city council presses ahead with plans for a 20,000-capacity arena near to the Etihad Campus, which includes the 63,000-capacity Etihad Stadium.

John Sharkey, executive vice-president of operations at SMG Europe, which manages Manchester Arena, believes the city is unable to sustain two major arenas and has hit out at the way the council has handled the process, with proposals for the new venue currently out for consultation.

“We are extremely surprised that the council has even considered this direction,” he tells LIVE UK. “We are absolutely not scared of competition and are happy to support other developments that are going on in Manchester, where there is a gap in the market. 

“We just don’t see how there is a market for another 20,000-capacity arena in the city.”

Sharkey cites current projects such as Depot Mayfield (10,000 – see page 8) as a development that can add to the city’s infrastructure, rather than detract. 

“At Manchester Arena we already have around 135-150 shows a year, the majority of them live music events,” he said. “If the new arena goes ahead that means there will need to be around 300 shows a year.”

According to locally-based national promoter Danny Betesh of Kennedy Street Enterprises, thE market may not be able to support another arena, although he can 
see benefits.

“I have to say that in all the years I have been promoting, I cannot remember not being able to get a Manchester Arena date to route into a national tour when needed, even if it has meant some re-routing or juggling,” he says. 

“Therefore, whether Manchester needs another arena is questionable. I would imagine both arenas will survive, but it will certainly be harder for them competing against each other.

“On the other hand, from a promoter’s point of view and a fan’s perspective, there being two arenas in the city and giving them both a choice is beneficial. I think overall it would add to the already vibrant music scene that Manchester currently enjoys.”

The council, meanwhile stresses that no final decision has been taken.

“We have always envisaged a range of destination uses on the Etihad Campus,” says a Manchester City Council spokesperson. “An arena, alongside other development options, is being explored within the 2019 Framework, because Eastlands has been identified as a potentially viable location. 

“Should a decision be taken to pursue an arena, then this will be the subject of determination through the normal planning process, following further consultation with residents and the fullest range of stakeholders.”

Artistes playing Manchester Arena include Eagles, Westlife, Carrie Underwood, KISS, Alice Cooper, Little Mix and The Chemical Brothers.

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