Co-op Live: Peter Kay says new Manchester arena's latest delay is 'very disappointing'

Co-op Live arena in Manchester
The arena is part of a development around Manchester City's Etihad Stadium [BBC]

Manchester's new Co-op Live Arena has postponed its opening again, this time to May, because it is still not ready.

The venue, the UK's biggest indoor arena, had already delayed comedian Peter Kay's opening shows, which were due to take place earlier this week.

Co-op Live manager Gary Roden resigned on Thursday after a series of problems.

The venue said it needs more time to test emergency communications systems. Kay said he "can't believe" the new delay, which is "very disappointing".

His shows will now happen next month, as will a gig by US rock band The Black Keys that had been scheduled for Saturday, 27 April.

Kay said: "My apologies once again but unfortunately the Co-op Live still isn't ready and so, as yet, remains untested for a large-scale audience. Consequently, they are having to reschedule my two shows yet again (I know I can't believe it either)."

He added: "It's very disappointing but your safety is very important, and I won't compromise that."

Peter Kay
Peter Kay's shows at the venue were pushed back [PA Media]

Kay's poster on social media originally said he would open "Europe's biggest new arena" and would be the "first artist in the world to perform at Manchester Co-op Live".

After the second postponement, he jokingly changed that to say he "is hoping to eventually perform at Europe's biggest new arena*" - with the asterisk referring to a note saying "if they actually open the place".

And after being pushed back in the schedule, it added that he is "currently the ninth artist in the world to perform at Co-op Live".

He is now due to appear on 23 and 24 May, with The Black Keys rescheduled to 15 May.

More work to do

The latest delay is a fresh blow for the arena, which also had to cancel thousands of tickets to a test event headlined by Rick Astley last weekend.

The venue's statement said: "Since making the difficult decision to postpone the live shows at Co-op Live due to take place this week, we have been undertaking an extensive protocol of testing critical procedures to ensure all areas are ready for fans.

"To ensure that we can run all shows safely, regretfully we have now had to take the decision to reschedule the planned The Black Keys and Peter Kay shows. Both The Black Keys and Peter Kay have graciously agreed to reschedule their shows."

The statement continued: "We deeply appreciate the impact this will have on excited fans, and sincerely apologise for the inconvenience that this change will undoubtedly cause.

"Rescheduling Peter Kay and The Black Keys will give us the extra time we need to continue testing enhanced emergency communications thoroughly. This is vital to satisfy the rigorous set of guidelines and protocols that are necessary for a venue of this size to ensure that our fans, artists and staff have the safest experience possible."

A joint statement from Manchester City Council and the emergency services supported the postponement, saying: "We all agree that there is more to complete before the venue can welcome audiences safely.

"Whilst we understand this will be disappointing, we cannot compromise on public safety," they said.

The statement added: "The elements outstanding include a fully tested emergency services communication system, and some remaining internal security systems, and fire safety measures.

"Work is progressing quickly in all of these areas, and all partners involved look forward to the venue being open and able to welcome guests safely once they are completed."

The arena, which will have a maximum capacity of 23,500, is now due to open next week with a gig by US rapper A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie, followed by the first two nights of pop star Olivia Rodrigo's UK tour.

"Today's announcement comes with reassurance that we welcome fans to Co-op Live from Boogie Wit Da Hoodie on 1 May and into Olivia Rodrigo from 3 May 2024," the venue added.

Harry Styles among investors

Take That, Keane, Elbow, Eric Clapton and Barry Manilow are among other stars lined up to perform there in the coming weeks.

Harry Styles is among the investors in the venue, which is next to Manchester City's Etihad Stadium.

The arena has been built by City Football Group, owned by billionaire UAE royal and deputy prime minister Sheikh Mansour; along with Oakview Music Group (OVG), co-founded by US music mogul Irving Azoff.

It is sponsored by the Co-op Group, and a spokesperson said: "As the naming rights sponsor for Co-op Live, we are very disappointed in the delayed opening of the venue and fully recognise the disruption this has caused to affected ticket holders, many of whom are Co-op Members.

"Co-op Live is an incredible venue and is a force for good for Manchester, our region and the UK as a whole. We look forward to seeing the venue fully open in accordance with the timescales provided by OVG today."