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City Football Group invests in Co-op Live

City Football Group, owner of Premier League club Manchester City and several other football teams around the world, has become Oak View Group’s equal joint venture partner and investor in Co-op Live, a planned new 23,500-capacity venue in Manchester.

The arena will form part of the Etihad Campus, on which Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium sits. OVG and CFG will coordinate on jobs, sustainability and advancing the Etihad Campus as a global sport, leisure and entertainment destination.

CFG joins Harry Styles as an investor in Co-op Live, with the music star having acquired a minority stake in the venue in October last year.

Today’s (Monday’s) announcement builds on the 2019 pre-planning collaboration that saw CFG support OVG’s feasibility studies and community consultations in advance of planning approval being granted for the project in September 2020.

Construction work on Co-op Live, which is set to become the UK’s largest entertainment arena, commenced earlier this month. as work begun on the project, BAM Construction revealed that almost £150m (€174m/$212m) of the orders for the arena had already been placed with local firms.

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.

Tim Leiweke, co-founder and chief executive of OVG, said: “We are thrilled that CFG has chosen to invest in Co-op Live, and we can’t think of a better partner for this project. We are creating one of the world’s best arenas in Manchester. This venue will push the boundaries of live entertainment and be a significant source of opportunity for the city. We also know that this is precisely the right time to make such a substantial financial investment in Manchester, helping it build back from the terrible impact of COVID-19. 

“The Etihad Campus was always a clear choice due to its proximity to the city centre and the opportunity to be part of a growing visitor destination with excellent existing transport links. With CFG as a JV partner, we can push the boundaries on how Co-op Live delivers for artists, every single fan, the UK’s music industry and the city by creating a magical intersection of sports, community and entertainment that will be the envy of the world.”

Marty Edelman, board director at CFG, added: “Co-op Live unlocks the potential for the Etihad Campus to grow as an entertainment destination that creates more reasons for the nation and world to visit Manchester.

“The chairman and the board’s priority has always been to ensure Co-op Live seamlessly integrates with the Campus and complements Manchester’s city centre offer. As a joint venture partner and investor, we will ensure the Co-op Live becomes part of the fabric of East Manchester and delivers the fullest community and economic impact as Manchester, and the wider region builds back from COVID.”

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 is expected to host around 120 events and bring in 1.3 million visitors annually. UK consumer co-operative Co-op acquired naming rights to the arena days after planning permission was granted through a 15-year deal with OVG.

CFG has overseen over £700m of public investment into the Etihad Campus and East Manchester since 2008, supporting 14,000 jobs. As well as Manchester City, CFG operates clubs in New York, Melbourne, Yokohama, Montevideo, Girona, Sichuan, Mumbai, Lommel and Troyes.

Oak View Group’s other major projects under development include New York’s UBS Arena and Seattle’s Climate Pledge Arena. Both CFG and OVG count Silver Lake as investors.