Manchester’s Co-Op Live Venue License is a Go Amid Ongoing Controversy

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Co-Op Live venue manchester

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Photo Credit: Co-Op Live

Manchester’s newest venue, Co-Op Live, has its license approved, with a scheduled opening of April 23.

Co-Op Live, the newest venue in Manchester, has had its license granted, making it the UK’s largest indoor arena at 23,500-capacity. Located opposite Manchester’s Etihad Stadium, Co-Op Live features a “unique bowl design” to bring fans “closer to the artist than at other arenas of equivalent size.”

The venue is due to open its doors on Tuesday, April 23, where it will host two consecutive nights of comedian Peter Kay. Among the acts to play at the venue in the upcoming months include Nicki Minaj, Olivia Rodrigo, Liam Gallagher, Take That, and Keane. Co-Op Live will also host the 2024 MTV European Music Awards later this year.

“We are delighted that Manchester City Council’s Licensing Sub-Committee has today voted to approve our application for a premises license,” said Gary Roden, Executive Director and General Manager at Co-Op Live. “We are grateful to local councillors and residents for their engagement during the process, and will remain committed to being the best possible neighbor to the local community up to opening and beyond.”

“Manchester deserves the best, and with the opening of Co-Op Live just weeks away, we’re excited to begin this new chapter in the city’s enviable cultural story,” added Roden. “This £365 million investment will transform the fan experience of live entertainment, bring international superstars to Manchester, set a new benchmark for large arenas around the world, and deliver a significant economic boost to the entire North-West region.”

But the new venue hasn’t been without its share of controversy on the road to its opening night. Co-Op Live, alongside Manchester’s existing 21,000-capacity AO Arena, has seen headlines over a licensing dispute stemming from “public safety” concerns levied by ASM Global, which operates the latter venue. ASM Global accused the Co-Op Live’s application for a venue license of being “simply unlawful.”

While ASM Global stated initially that it had no qualms with Co-Op Live remaining open until midnight, it later raised concerns at the prospect of the venue being allowed to remain open until 2AM on weekends. The AO Arena operator argued that Co-Op Live should close by midnight at the latest, and not be granted the ability to open “24/7 on 25 occasions every year” as requested.

ASM said in written submissions to Manchester City Council’s licensing committee that it wanted to promote licensing objectives to “safeguard public safety and the prevention of public nuisance.” ASM Global’s Gary Gran said the company “took an interest” in Co-Op Live’s appeal for a license as “significant stakeholders in Manchester’s cultural and leisure life.”

In response, Co-Op Live accused ASM Global/AO Arena of making “ludicrous and disingenuous” objections to the venue’s licensing. Barrister Jeremy Phillips KC acknowledged that there was a clear element of competition between the two venues.