Construction work has started on Co-op Live, with BAM Construction revealing that almost £150m (€173.7m/$208.4m) of the orders for the Manchester-based project have already been placed with local firms.

Following extensive enabling works since the beginning of the year, construction of what will be the UK’s largest entertainment arena has now started in earnest, with the development representing BAM’s largest value project in the UK to date.

The Place North West website said the contract agreed last week is worth £253m, around £100m greater than initial estimates. Oak View Group (OVG), the developer, is investing over £350m to create what is intended to be one of the best and most sustainable live entertainment arenas in Europe.

The construction project is one of the biggest to commence nationally since the onset of COVID-19 and will seek to provide a boost for the local construction industry at a critical time for economic recovery after the pandemic.

At its peak, Co-op Live’s construction site will see some 400 people working on it daily. BAM estimates that more than 2,000 people will work on the site over its three-year construction phase, comprising the majority of the 3,350 total jobs the project will support from now to 2023. OVG has forecast that Co-op Live will create a further 1,000 jobs when operational.

The team behind Co-op Live is committed to local procurement, and a range of businesses across Greater Manchester and the wider North West region are being used to help create the venue, with a dozen firms from the region already engaged in the project.

Some 9,000 tons of steelwork will be provided from a depot in Bolton, while a significant order for mechanical and electrical works has been placed with Manchester-based SES. The striking façade and roof are being delivered by a firm in Cheadle.

Ian Fleming, director of BAM Construction in the North West, said: “The highly digital way we work allows us to achieve the sustainability demanded by the most ambitious clients in the world… working smarter means working safer for those 2,000 people that will cross our boundary and using technology and techniques like off-site manufacturing.

“We rely on the quality of our supply chain here in the North West and how well we work with them to integrate all these elements together. Greater Manchester has got the talent and resources we need, and it means BAM’s work here for this northern landmark will boost the local economy and bring big social benefits for people living here, all of which is a source of great pride to me.”

In January, sports and entertainment consulting firm Elevate Sports Ventures partnered with Co-op Live to support premium hospitality marketing and sales at the 23,500-seat venue, which is scheduled to open in 2023.

Co-op Live, which will be located on the Etihad Campus adjacent to Etihad Stadium, is expected to host around 120 events and bring in 1.3 million visitors annually. Manchester City Council gave the project the green light in September and UK consumer co-operative Co-op acquired naming rights to the arena days later through a 15-year deal with OVG.

In October, it was announced that music star Harry Styles had taken a stake in the project and will be actively involved in the development of the arena.

Commenting on the start of construction, Tim Leiweke, chief executive of OVG, said: “The beginning of the construction of Co-op Live is an exciting step in our plans to deliver one of Europe’s best and most sustainable arenas for Manchester.

“Co-op Live is an arena by Manchester, for Manchester, and of Manchester. Since revealing our plans last year, we have remained committed to maximising the benefits it brings to the city and the whole North West. Today’s (Wednesday’s) milestone of £150m in orders for local firms is a proud moment for the project and will help support local jobs and ensure the positive impact of our investment is being felt already.”