Apology as largest UK arena axes test gig tickets

Co-op Live
Some tickets for the Co-op Live's preview event have been cancelled [BBC]

Bosses of the UK's largest arena have apologised for cancelling tickets to a test show hours before it was due to start.

It comes after organisers at Co-op Live in Manchester said they had to cut capacity for a preview concert by Rick Astley to allow them to test the 23,500-seater venue "effectively".

Those affected have instead been invited to the Black Keys show at the £365m arena next week.

Co-op Live is set to be officially opened by comedian Peter Kay on Tuesday.

Shot showing crowds with empty seating areas at Co-op Live
Most of the seating areas were empty at Saturday's test event [BBC]

'Difficult decision'

About 11,000 fans were to be welcomed into the venue next to Manchester City's football ground for the test event.

The "difficult decision" to cancel some tickets at short-notice was made "to enable us to test the spaces effectively", a spokesman said.

"We apologise for the inconvenience this will undoubtedly cause," he added.

Crowds in concourse area at Co-op Live
The main concourse area has been dubbed "the street" [BBC]

Those affected have been contacted by the venue and ticket sellers with anyone who booked parking in line for an automatic refund.

Tickets have instead been offered to US rock band the Black Keys next week "as a gesture of our appreciation", the Co-op Live spokesman said.

At the arena

Rick Astley on stage at Co-op Live
Rick Astley entertained the crowds who were there [BBC]

By Ian Youngs, BBC arts & entertainment correspondent

Let’s just say the new arena still has some ironing out to do before it officially opens.

Some tickets for Saturday’s first test event were cancelled to reduce numbers (the organisers haven’t said how many).

Some areas aren’t ready, most of the seating wasn’t open, some of the hand dryers in the toilets weren’t working, food was running out (but I had some nice popcorn for dinner) and the queues for food and drink were slightly chaotic.

The main concourse - called "the street", with several food and drink outlets - was busy enough with the arena at less than half capacity.

I really hope the other areas will mean it doesn’t feel overcrowded when it’s fully open and 23,500 people are in here.

Most of tonight’s issues can be put down to overrunning work and teething problems and this was only ever billed as a test event - and was free.

I guess that’s what test events are for. But there are just three days until it opens for real.

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