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Plans outlined to increase Manchester Arena capacity to 24,000

An early-stage redevelopment vision has been unveiled for Manchester Arena that would expand its overall capacity to 24,000, making it the largest indoor arena in Europe.

The arena has unveiled the vision to mark 25 years since the venue opened. ASM Global, which operates the arena, has provided a first look at the redesign plans, which would see new concourse levels introduced.

The plans have been unveiled to ensure the arena “remains at the heart of the city for the next 25 years and beyond” and it comes as rival plans for a similarly sized arena in Manchester push forward.

The new façade of the Manchester Arena will pay homage to the city’s symbolic worker bee, while the external redesign showcases a reimagined customer experience providing access between the venue and Manchester Victoria transport links.

The new concourse levels would enable better circulation throughout the arena, additional retail space and a dedicated level for reimagined VIP boxes and lounges.

A “dramatic” redesign of the main arena is also planned. As well as increasing the capacity from 21,000 to 24,000, the plans would provide new food and drink experiences on the event floor.

John Sharkey, executive vice-president of European operations for ASM Global, said: “This video represents an ambitious early stage vision for the redevelopment of our internationally-loved venue, created to mark our 25th anniversary year.

“These plans have been made public earlier than intended, as we are still in the process of consulting with Manchester City Council, our neighbours and landlord on the design – their input and involvement in this journey will be crucial.

“In particular, we’re working to ensure our final proposals fit with the council’s wider infrastructure planning. We are also in dialogue with the families of the May 2017 terrorist attack around a fitting memorial for the city room.”

Sharkey added that the arena has goals of becoming one of the lowest carbon venues in Europe.

The arena will invite people from across Manchester to have their say on the plans in the coming months.

The plans have been released after Oak View Group confirmed last month that it was bringing forward a planning application for a new 23,500-capacity venue in Manchester, which would become the largest arena in the UK and overtake the Manchester Arena.

US global venue development, advisory and investment company OVG has been working in partnership with City Football Group (CFG), parent company of English Premier League football club Manchester City, on the proposed project.

OVG said the £350m (€396m/$444m) project would be entirely privately funded and constructed on the Etihad Campus.

Sharkey has previously said that Manchester can’t sustain another similarly sized arena. Tim Leiweke, co-founder and chief executive of OVG, feels there is room for the two arenas and has said the new venue is designed to complement the Manchester Arena rather than “eliminate” it.

Images: ASM Global