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Manchester Co-Op Live boss quits ahead of arena opening

The UK's biggest arena has had its opening delayed, with Gary Roden also criticised for comments about grassroots venues.

By Will Richards

Co-Op Live
Manchester's Co-Op Live Arena (Picture: Getty Images)

The boss of Manchester’s new Co-Op Live arena has quit just days before its delayed opening.

The venue, which is now the biggest arena in the UK, was announced in 2021 as the UK’s first all-electric arena.

It was set to open with a test event featuring Rick Astley last week, but that gig was cancelled less than 24 hours ahead of time.

Now, just three days before the arena is set to open with rescheduled gigs from Peter Kay on Monday (April 29) and Tuesday (April 30), boss Gary Roden has stepped down.

Jessica Koravos, president of Oak View Group (OVG) International, said: “Gary Roden has decided to resign,” thanking Roden for “his help bringing the UK’s newest arena to live entertainment fans”.

The venue said of the postponements: “Following our first test event on Saturday, regretfully we have made the difficult decision to reschedule our two opening performances by Peter Kay.

“It is critical to ensure we have a consistent total power supply to our fully electric sustainable venue, the completion of which is a few days behind.

“Rescheduling gives us the extra time we need to continue testing thoroughly. This is vital to satisfy the rigorous set of guidelines and protocols that are necessary for a venue of this size.”

artists impression of new venue
(Photo: Co-op Live).

Roden had been under fire for comments he made about grassroots venues, criticising a planned £1 ticket levy on arena gigs to help support struggling small venues.

Roden told the BBC that the plan was “too simplistic” and added: “If the conversation stops being ‘Give me a quid’ and quite aggressive – if it changed to be, ‘What can we do together to help?’, that’s where I think we start to get into that apprenticeship conversation and all those different things that we want to work through.

“We’ve got a list of ideas that we’re currently forming, and I think once we’ve been open six months or a year, we’ll be really able to add something very significant to the grassroots system in Manchester,” he added.

In response, the Music Venue Trust boss Mark Davyd said: “The average length of time it takes for a British artist to be booked to headline the Coop Live Arena from the date of the release of their first album is 30 (THIRTY) years. No British artist that started their career in the last decade is booked to headline the arena.”

He added: “Final Bonus Fact: Coop Live have publicly stated that they don’t believe there are problems with the UK music talent pipeline.”