Strategic management consulting firm CAA Icon has been appointed by Oak View Group to serve as the project management consultancy for Co-op Live, a new 23,500-seat arena currently under construction in Manchester.

CAA Icon opened its first UK office in March 2020 to support the planning process for Co-op Live. The company has managed the development of numerous venues around the world, including The O2 in London and the Mercedes-Benz Arena in Berlin.

Stephanie Bax, CAA Icon’s managing director of European operations, will lead the firm’s project management team for Co-op Live, overseeing the contract, design and construction activities for the arena. Bax has been representing OVG through the design process and has played a key role in arena development activities.

CAA Icon’s appointment comes after City Football Group, owner of Premier League club Manchester City, last month became OVG’s equal joint venture partner and investor in Co-op Live. The arena will form part of the Etihad Campus, which includes City’s Etihad Stadium.

Bax will oversee the CAA Icon team as it represents OVG and CFG interests in activities such as budget and programme management, oversight of procurement and installation of furniture, fixtures and equipment, and oversight of sponsor-related procurement and integration into the venue.

Bax has previously worked on projects such as Stadio della Roma and Moody Center in Austin, and has also managed venues in the NBA, Major League Soccer and for the 2010 winter Olympic Games in Vancouver.

Bax said: “We are thrilled to be working once again with OVG, this time to deliver their first international venue. Co-op Live will be a groundbreaking project for the UK music industry and an important economic boost to the City of Manchester in the wake of the pandemic.

“This will be the first of many new projects in the UK and Europe for CAA Icon and we are committed to bringing our deep sports and entertainment expertise, alongside our tailored project management approach, to these complex projects.”

Sam Piccione III, OVG’s international president, added: “In Co-op Live, we’re planning to create a music and entertainment experience like nothing the UK or Europe has ever seen before. We need a team of world-leading experts to deliver that, and Stephanie and the team at CAA Icon are truly second to none in their field.”

Construction work on Co-op Live, which is set to become the largest entertainment arena in the UK, commenced last month. The arena is set to open in 2023 and also counts music star Harry Styles among its investors.

In January, sports and entertainment consulting firm Elevate Sports Ventures partnered with Co-op Live to support premium hospitality marketing and sales at the venue.

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.