Co-op Live arena says Elbow will play opening gig after inspection

Elbow frontman Guy Garvey on stage
Manchester band Elbow are scheduled to play Co-op Live's first official show next week [Getty Images]

The troubled new Co-op Live arena has said it has completed an inspection that should allow it to finally open after a string of problems and delays.

The Manchester venue was forced to postpone its launch for a third time at the last minute last week after part of the ventilation system became detached.

A statement said it was "satisfied" with the result of the inspection, which found it was an "isolated" fault.

Rock band Elbow are now due to open the UK's biggest indoor arena on Tuesday.

Comedian Peter Kay was originally due to open the venue, which will hold up to 23,500 people, on 23 April. But his shows were postponed twice because the building wasn't ready, with issues including power supply and emergency communications.

Its third attempt at opening came on 1 May with a visit by US rapper A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie.

However, that concert was called off as thousands of his fans waited outside following an incident during the soundcheck when "a component of HVAC [heating, ventilation and air conditioning] system, used to direct air, separated from the ductwork".

Olivia Rodrigo
The venue said it would "continue to work" to reschedule Olivia Rodrigo's dates [Getty Images]

That problem then led to two shows by US pop star Olivia Rodrigo and one by the band Keane to be postponed, while five gigs by Take That were moved to the rival AO Arena in Manchester.

At the time, Co-op Live said it would "take a short pause" to allow for an "independent inspection of all elements of the arena ceiling".

The venue has now said that inspection has been carried out, not by an external body but by a subcontractor, SES, which has been responsible for installing the arena's giant air handling units.

"Following the incident in the bowl on 1 May 2024, an inspection and verification report was undertaken by SES subcontractors," a Co-op Live statement said.

"In consultation with Manchester City Council, responsible authorities, and wider stakeholders, we are satisfied with the process and outcome of the investigation identifying the HVAC nozzle as an isolated manufacturing default.

"This is a standard process of review in any venue when such an incident occurs. We now look forward to welcoming fans to Elbow's opening performance on 14 May 2024."

Exterior of Co-op Live arena
The venue will be the UK's biggest indoor arena with a maximum capacity of 23,500 [BBC]

A council statement said: "The Council has received documentation that confirms that the venue has carried out the necessary investigations following the incident with their air ducting that provides reassurance that they have considered their duties under Health and Safety law."

In late April, the council and emergency services referred to other "concerns" about the building, but the local authority has said those were addressed before the aborted A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie show.

A separate statement from Co-op Live on Friday said it was "thrilled to be gearing up to open our doors" and "especially disappointed to have delayed our introduction and frustrated so many in the process".

"For all shows rescheduled to take place at Co-op Live, and for those ticket holders of shows next week that have worried about their shows taking place, we want to ensure that all fans have the best possible experience at their long-awaited event," the venue said.

Ticket-holders for shows in the next two weeks, plus the rescheduled Rodrigo and Keane concerts, will get a free drink and food item, it added. The venue had been criticised for charging £8.95 for some pints of beer.

"Whilst we know this won't erase the inconvenience and upset caused by the original postponements, we hope it will help everyone have the best possible time on the night."

Earlier on Friday, Keane's gig was rescheduled for October, and the venue said it would "continue to work with Olivia Rodrigo and team to secure new dates" for her.