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The owners of Manchester’s Co-Op Live are planning “the greatest arena in the world” for London

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The owners of Manchester’s Co-Op Live are planning to build “the greatest arena in the world” in London.

US entrepreneur Tim Leiweke, the CEO of sports and live entertainment development company Oak View Group – who is behind the Co-Op Live – has outlined plans for a new music venue in the capital.

It comes as Manchester’s Co-Op Live Arena has been marred by issues ahead of its launch, with both Peter Kay and The Black Keys being forced to postpone their shows at the last minute.

The 23,500-capacity venue – now the largest arena in the UK – has faced numerous controversies and teething problems in recent weeks, including arena boss Gary Roden’s own resignation.

Speaking to The Telegraph, Leiweke said it could be up to a year before plans become official. As for location, the investor said: “If you guessed Hammersmith, it would be a good guess.

“We’re pretty focused on a particular site. We’re excited about the site.”

Elaborating on the provisional plans, he continued: “But I understand there’s a process, and we need to talk to neighbours, we need to talk to the community, we need to talk to the business leaders and to political leaders. We’re going to play by their rules, I’m not going to get ahead of them.”

Manchester’s Co-Op Live launch has not gone as planned, but the venue has reassured attendees that A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie will perform on May 1 and Olivia Rodrigo from May 3 as planned.

Kay’s gigs were set to be held on April 29 and 30 following the delay. They will now be taking place on May 23 and 24. The Black Keys’ show was pushed back from April 27 to May 15. All tickets remain valid for the new dates, and refunds will be issued to those who are no longer able to attend.

Roden’s resignation was announced shortly after Peter Kay’s opening gigs were postponed for the first time, and came after he received backlash for comments about grassroots music venues – arguing some of them were “poorly run” and insisting that proposed £1 ticket levy to preserve their future was “too simplistic”.

Earlier this month, artists and figures from the live music industry headed to Parliament to make the case for a mandatory £1 ticket levy on all gigs arena-sized and above, in order to secure the future of grassroots venues and artists.

The Music Venue Trust told NME in response that Roden’s comments were “disrespectful and disingenuous”. CEO Mark Davyd also wrote on social media that the venue had “publicly stated that they don’t believe there are problems with the UK music talent pipeline”.

In response to news of a proposed new London venue, Davyd said on X/Twitter: “Let’s get this one sorted before we even have a proposed site: Yes to a new arena in London BUT ONLY IF it is built with full unequivocal financial support for the grassroots live music ecosystem fully costed into its operation right from the outset.”

He added that this a “mistake” was made in “not making this a cornerstone of the planning and licensing process” of The Co-Op Live, adding: “Let’s not repeat that error.”

Back in February, a number of the UK’s proposed new arenas responded to the demand from the Music Venue Trust for them to invest back into grassroots music spaces or else not be allowed to open.

“Music Venue Trust’s statement that Co-op Live have no plans to invest in grassroots venues is inaccurate,” Manchester’s Co-Op Live developer Oak View Group International’s COO Mark Donnelly previously told NME. “We have previously reached out to the organisation following initial conversation on December 7, and are currently awaiting a meeting to discuss collaboration as we prepare to open our venue.

“We are committed to giving back to the local community, having pledged £1million annually to the Co-op Foundation, and working towards Manchester City Council’s target of net zero carbon by 2038. This ethos extends further into the grassroots sector, working alongside Manchester’s vibrant Night & Day Café to host our recent countdown event.”

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