UK consumer co-operative Co-op has acquired naming rights to the planned new 23,500-seat arena in the English city of Manchester through a 15-year agreement with developer Oak View Group.
The agreement officially names the arena as Co-op Live. Around £1m (€1.1m/$1.3m) per year will be delivered to community groups by the Co-op Foundation as part of the deal.
In announcing the deal, OVG said Co-op Live would become one of the most sustainable and socially responsible buildings of its kind in Europe, be at the forefront of Manchester’s zero carbon agenda and help tackle food poverty through a zero-food waste initiative.
Co-op, whose food range will be sold inside the arena, will support the venue’s apprenticeship programme and provide direct employment opportunities for its six secondary and college academies across Greater Manchester. Co-op opened its first offices in Manchester in 1863 and has a significant presence within the UK music scene with pop-up shops at festivals such as Glastonbury.
The arena is scheduled to open in 2023 and Co-op members will benefit from pre-sale tickets, food and beverage discounts, hospitality experiences and the chance to win free tickets and exclusive experiences.
The deal has been signed after Manchester City Council approved OVG’s plans for the new arena on Thursday. The arena will be located on the Etihad Campus adjacent to Etihad Stadium, home of Premier League football club Manchester City.
Jo Whitfield, chief executive of Co-op Food, said: “Ethics are at the heart of the Co-op and we’re proud that one of the world’s greenest and most socially responsible live entertainment venues will carry our name. It will give millions of pounds back to local communities and good causes and we’ll make access to entertainment easier for our members with exclusive and pre-sale tickets.
“The coronavirus pandemic is having a significant impact and our multi-million-pound investment is a signal of our intent for the future of the region, creating jobs and helping to bring some of the world’s best events to Manchester.”
Tim Leiweke, chief executive of OVG, added: “Our partnership goes way beyond a normal naming rights agreement. The shared values will help define the ethos of the venue, including bold commitments on sustainability and community.
“I’ve said from the beginning of this project that this arena will be of Manchester, for Manchester and by Manchester, and this partnership with one of the city’s most iconic brands is a critical part of that. We can’t wait to work together to bring amazing live event experiences, in one of the world’s best arenas, to Manchester.”
OVG is hoping to begin work on the arena in November and has said that around 3,350 jobs will be created during the construction phase, with 1,000 roles and apprenticeships to be made available upon completion of the venue. OVG said the project will boost the local economy by more than £1.5bn over the next 20 years.
The project has been strongly opposed by ASM Global, operator of Manchester’s 21,000-seat AO Arena. Following Thursday’s news, ASM Global said that it would “review all options” to ensure the future of AO Arena is secured despite the “pressures” posed by the approval of OVG’s plans. Online electricals retailer AO acquired naming rights to the venue earlier this month.
Co-op Live is set to host music events as well as awards shows, international sporting events and tournaments, entertainment shows and emerging formats such as esports.