From construction to cancellations at Manchester's new Co-op Live Arena

The venue has failed to open multiple times with many shows cancelled, disappointing thousands of music and comedy fans. Credit: PA Images

After four years and £365m in construction costs the UK's biggest indoor arena has still not officially opened its doors.

Bosses at Manchester's Co-op Live have been forced to cancel yet more "opening" shows after the latest in a line of problems, with part of an air conditioning unit falling from a ceiling.

So what were the events leading to a major new venue having such a chaotic start and being branded "Co-Flop" on social media?

Here is a timeline of what happened:

Planning permission is given in 2020 with construction work beginning the following year. Credit: ITV News


Planners give approval for the venue with developer, Oak View Group, promising the project will create 3,500 jobs during construction and a further 1,000 once opened.

That same year, former One Direction member Harry Styles is announced as an investor for the arena - which is next door to Manchester City's Etihad Stadium.


The first gig announced for Co-op Live is Jonas Brothers for June 2024 but they are not to be the first act to play the venue.

More artists are confirmed over the year with an opening date set for April 2024.

North West star Harry Styles becomes an investor, with Jonas Brothers the first confirmed act on the venue's schedule. Credit: PA Media/ITV News

202429 February

Co-op Live is chosen to host the 2024 MTV European Music Awards, scheduled to take place on 10 November.

20 April

Headaches for the new arena became painfully clear when capacity for a test event, featuring Rick Astley, is reduced shortly beforehand.

The star still plays his show and there reports on social media that it is a success.

Rick Astley is the first artist to play Co-op Live, in a test event, as problems are revealed. Credit: MEN Media

22 April

Co-op Live's opening night is cancelled, with less than 48 hours to go, shelving performances by comedian Peter Kay.

His gigs are shifted to 29 and 30 April and Kay says he is "truly gutted" for his fans.

"Obviously," he writes, "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 and Tums class) but hopefully I'll see you then."

A venue spokesman says that "consistent total power supply to our fully electric sustainable venue" is two days behind and more time is needed to test it "thoroughly."

He adds: "This is vital to satisfy the rigorous set of guidelines and protocols that are necessary for a venue of this size."

Peter Kay's shows, meant to open Co-op Live, are cancelled twice leaving him "truly gutted." Credit: PA Images

25 April

Following a slew of issues, Co-op Live's general manager Gary Roden resigns.

His departure comes in the wake of a backlash against him claiming to the BBC that grassroots music venues were often "poorly run."

The Music Venue Trust criticises Mr Roden in a statement of its own, telling the NME that grassroots music venues are not "poorly run," and it is "disrespectful and disingenuous to suggest otherwise."

It adds: "Obviously, the irony of making ill-judged, unnecessary and misleading comments about grassroots music venues on the day that the launch of their new arena has unfortunately fallen into such difficulties is not lost on anyone in the music industry, on artists, or on audiences."

Co-op Live's General Manager, Gary Roden, resigns after initial cancellations and comments in an interview. Credit: MEN Media

Rebecca Kane Burton, an ex-boss of London’s O2 Arena, is then announced as interim general manager.

Jessica Koravos, president of OVG International, thanks Mr Roden for his help and wishes him "the best for the future."

However, she says his interview remarks are not a “sentiment” shared by the stadium.

"Co-op Live remains committed to grassroots music in Manchester and beyond."

26 April

For a second time, Peter Kay has to reschedule because the venue is still not "ready". American rock band, The Black Keys, also lose their spot.

As Kay’s shows move to 23 and 24 May, he says it is "very disappointing but your safety is important, and I won't compromise that."

The Black Keys' appearance shifts to 15 May.

US rock duo, The Black Keys, find themselves on a growing list of acts whose tours suddenly have gaps. Credit: PA Images

In a statement Co-op Live insist there is "reassurance" for fans that dates for US rapper A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie, real name Julius Dubose, on 1 May, and American singer Olivia Rodrigo's performances on 3 and 4 May will go ahead.

The Chairman and Chief Executive of developer Oak View Group, Tim Leiweke, offers his "sincerest apologies to every fan that has been impacted by this decision and others this week" and joins his team "in thanking them for their continued patience and support as we prepare to open our doors".

1 May

Both A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie and Olivia Rodrigo dates are postponed.

Just over an hour before A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie is set to perform, a component of the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system falls from a ceiling.

Oak View Group say a nozzle, used to direct air, separated from ductwork. The installer, contractor and a third-party inspector now have to test each one to confirm they are free from defects.

Rodrigo's shows are the latest to be postponed amid the new arena's on-going problems. Credit: PA Images

Two hours after cancelling A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie, Co-op Live also cancels on Rodrigo.

A statement on X, formerly Twitter, the venue say: "Ticket holders can either hold on to their tickets or obtain a refund at point of purchase."

2 May

British rock band Keane, who were due to play there on Sunday, cancel their gig.

In a post on X, they say they were "absolutely gutted" to cancel the gig because of "ongoing technical issues beyond our control. We are doing all we can to reschedule the show."

Take That jump ship to AO Arena as Co-op Live cancel more gigs Credit: Ian West/PA Wire/PA Images

Less than an hour later, British pop group Take That announce they are moving their shows to the rival Manchester AO Arena.

In a statement on X the band wrote: "Given the ongoing technical issues around the opening of Co-op Live we have taken the difficult decision to move our May shows to the AO Arena.

"This is not a decision we have taken lightly, but we wanted to give our fans as much notice as possible."

AO Arena posted: "Welcome back, Take That. The band synonymous with the city of Manchester returns to AO Arena".

Later in the evening, the Co-op Live arena announced it will be taking "a short pause to events" before welcoming members of the public to the arena from 14 May for Elbow.

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