'Everything was run down to the wire': Co-op Live hit with difficulties ahead of grand opening

The £365million venue is located near Manchester City's Etihad stadium. Credit: Co-op Live

Organisers have apologised for cancelling more than 7,000 tickets to a test show at a new multi-million-pound concert venue.

Around 11,000 fans were due to attend the show at Co-op Live in Manchester on Saturday, but many ticket holders were turned away.

The preview event headlined by Rick Astley was intended to test the venue ahead of its official opening night on Tuesday 23 April.

However, just a few hours before the performance, a decision was made to to reduce the capacity so the arena could be tested "effectively".

Problems with power at the site, which are believed to have affected the fire safety and emergency services communication systems, led to bosses slashing attendance from around 11,000 to 4,000 at the test event - less than two hours before it was due to start.

The issues continued to knock on following the performance, and just 24 hours before the official opening, Co-op Live postponed Peter Kay's gig after work failed to finish on time.

Alison Stafford-Bentley was already on her way from Stockport to the event when she was told her ticket would no longer be valid.

She said: "At ten past five I’d received an email informing me that my tickets for Rick Astley were cancelled.

"They told everyone to be there for six, so it was 50 minutes before the event was due to start that they cancelled my tickets."

Alison says she did not understand why her tickets had been cancelled with such short notice, as she had only booked them less than 24 hours beforehand.

She said: "I was really upset, I was annoyed because I’d started to make my way there.

"I’d only got my tickets the day before, so for them to say ‘oh we’ve cancelled your tickets'... I didn’t understand what was going on."

Bosses at Co-Op Live apologised for the "inconvenience caused" and invited those whose tickets were cancelled to watch rock-duo The Black Keys perform on Saturday 27 April 2024.

However, for Alison it is a less than impressive replacement.

She said: "I’ve never heard of the Black Keys. It was Rick Astley I wanted to see, not somebody else."

Insiders claim "everything was run down to the wire" ahead of Saturday's test show.

Bolton-born Comedian Peter Kay is the first opening act performing at the Co-op Live Arena.

The official opening night, on Tuesday 23 April, will feature Peter Kay as the opening act.

However, there is still work to be done before the arena can be considered complete.

The council's building control is also yet to sign the building off - although the venue can still open without a completion certificate, with 'mitigations' in place.

Manchester City Council's building control department cannot issue a completion certificate while work is still ongoing at the site, which is understood to include corridors and wiring.

The venue can still operate without this certificate after presenting council bosses with a mitigation strategy to manage potential risks.

Emergency services also had concerns about the venue opening to 11,000 people amid the site's power issues.

Councillor John Flanagan, a licensing committee member on Manchester cCouncil who represents Miles Platting and Newton Heath, was among the attendees at the Rick Astley preview performance.

He said: "It was an event that was meant to test the systems.

"What I saw was a lot of fire marshals clearly identified walking around. I support the fire service and the police if they've got concerns.

"The safety of the public is paramount. Although this feels negative, this is what this event was for. To test the systems with a small crowd. In that regard, they've done the right thing. I'm sure everyone is working their socks off today trying to resolve this by Tuesday."

Co-op Live is the city's biggest arena with a maximum capacity of 23,500 people and is located near Manchester City's Etihad Stadium.

The venue was set to open its doors for the first time on Tuesday 23 April

The £365m music and entertainment venue is holding 'test event' with fans attending at a discounted price of £5 per ticket.

Bolton-born Comedian Peter Kay will be the first official opening act to perform at Co-op Live on the Tuesday 23 April 2024.

Other artists set to perform at the Co-op Live include Liam Gallagher, Olivia Rodrigo, Take That, Eric Clapton.

The MTV Europe Awards, which celebrates music and artists from across the globe, will be held this year at the arena on 10 November.

The retail giant Co-op joined forces with the Oak View Group (OVG) to develop the site on the Etihad campus.

The venue has 32 bars, restaurants and lounges and will have the largest floor space of any indoor venue in the city.

It will donate £1m a year to charitable causes via the Co-op Foundation and managed to deliver 3,650 jobs to Manchester locals during the construction process.

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