Co Op Live arena boss quits

Co-Op Live arena boss quits

The general manager of Manchester’s Co-op live arena has quit after a delayed opening

Co-op Live Arena confirmed to the BBC that Gary Roden had resigned, with the blow coming days after Bolton comedian Peter Kay’s opening shows at the 23,500-seat venue were cancelled.

The £365 million arena was not ready in time.

Mr Roden resigned shortly after his comments to the BBC— in which he claimed grassroots music venues were often “poorly run”— caused backlash.

A statement from the arena to the BBC said it does not “share the sentiment” expressed by its now-former general manager and that “Co-op Live remains committed to grassroots music in Manchester and beyond”.

The statement also thanked Mr Roden for his “help bringing the UK’s newest arena to live entertainment fans and wish him the best for the future”.

As per the statement to the BBC, Rebecca Kane Burton, an ex-boss of London’s O2 Arena, will step in as interim general manager.

The Music Venue Trust hit out at Mr Roden in a statement of its own, telling NME grassroots music venues are not “poorly run”, and it is “disrespectful and disingenuous to suggest otherwise”.

It added: “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.”

Headaches for Co-op Arena became patently clear after capacity for a test event last Saturday was reduced with just hours’ notice.

The arena announced on Monday that Kay’s performances would instead take place on April 29 and 30, with Kay saying he was “truly gutted” by the delay.

In a statement posted on X by Co-op Live, Kay said: “I’m truly gutted as I know how disappointing this will be for everyone with tickets, but obviously 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 spokesman for the arena, which is next door to Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium, said: “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.”

The venue, built by developer the Oak View Group, was given planning permission in 2020 and boasted an investment from popstar Harry Styles.

US rock band The Black Keys are still set to play at the arena on Saturday, with Kay now taking up the second and third-ever performances at the new venue.

The PA news agency has approached Co-op Live for comment.

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