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OVG submits plans for City Football Group-backed Manchester arena

Image: Oak View Group

US venue development, advisory and investment company Oak View Group (OVG) has submitted plans for a new arena in Manchester, reiterating its conviction that the English city could support two successful arenas, “even under the most conservative growth projections”.

OVG is working in concert with City Football Group (CFG), ownership body of Premier League football club Manchester City, on the project, with the proposed arena earmarked to be developed on land adjacent to the Etihad Stadium.

The submission of plans to Manchester City Council comes amid stiff opposition from ASM Global, operator of the existing Manchester Arena. The project will be OVG’s first outside the US and the largest privately-financed venue in the UK, with £350m (€395.4m/$432.7m) direct investment going into the city.

The maximum capacity of the proposed arena is 23,500, significantly larger than the regular operating capacity of Manchester Arena, which OVG claims operated at under 15,000-capacity for 90 per cent of events from 2014 to 2018. ASM Global last month detailed an early-stage redevelopment vision for Manchester Arena that would expand its overall capacity to 24,000, making it the largest indoor arena in Europe.

Along with being a major concert venue, OVG intends the new arena to be a destination for sports events such as ice hockey, boxing, basketball, tennis and mixed martial arts. In submitting the plans, OVG outlined its vision for the new arena.

With a growing market in the UK for live entertainment, including music, family shows, and sport, OVG said analysis undertaken as part of the planning and design process by Ekosgen and PwC shows that Manchester’s economic and cultural strength supports two successful arenas.

OVG said the analysis indicates new arenas drive overall growth in the market, and there are several examples across the UK of two arenas in close proximity operating on a commercially viable basis. It stated the opening of a new arena has never caused the closing of an existing arena in a single city or overlapping catchment area, with various examples of arenas adapting their market positioning and continuing to thrive.

OVG stated the Market Assessment analysis shows a second arena will generate very significant additional economic benefits for the economy with city centre businesses benefiting hugely, where the majority of hotels, serviced accommodation, food, beverage, and retail businesses are based.

In the most conservative scenario, OVG said a second arena would lead to a 58 per cent increase in GVA (gross value added) from visitor expenditure compared to the current position, while the most ambitious scenario would result in an 80 per cent increase.

OVG said an arena at the Etihad Campus site would “maximise the latent economic capacity” of the Campus, deliver significant community benefits, and further promote it as a world-class sporting and leisure destination. OVG said the location also enables Manchester to attract and retain a wide range of sports, esports and entertainment events, which often require the practice and warm-up space provided by the Campus.

Tim Leiweke, co-founder and chief executive of Oak View Group, added: “The city has undergone transformational growth in recent years, but without a new state-of-the-art arena it will continue to lose out to other cities on some of the world’s best events.

“Our design brief for the new arena was three-fold. We want to deliver the best in class artist-fan experience for any arena in Europe; to have the flexibility to accommodate multiple event types so Manchester can host a broader range of music, sport and entertainment events; and to aim to build the most sustainable arena in the UK.

“We knew that to be a success, our proposals for a new venue needed to work alongside the existing arena, ensure a demonstrable socio-economic uplift for the city, and support the ongoing regeneration efforts underway in East Manchester. We are pleased that in-depth studies, with industry trends, economic data and growth forecasts all interrogated, indicate that Manchester could support two successful arenas, even under the most conservative growth projections.

“We’re also incredibly grateful for the guidance and feedback from local people and the city’s business community over the last seven months. We are confident the plans we are presenting today are extremely beneficial for the city and will put Manchester on the global entertainment map for decades.”