Co-op Live Arena opening delayed for third time due to building safety concerns

BAM's £365m Co-op Live Arena 
@Co-Op Live

Peter Kay, Olivia Rodrigo and the Black Keys have all cancelled gigs after power and safety issues at BAM’s £365m Co-op Live Arena

The Co-op Live Arena has faced numerous stumbles and abortive launches.

Originally due to be opened by comedian Peter Kay last week, his shows were postponed to late May 2024 after the completion of the power supply to the fully electric sustainable venue was “a few days behind.”

Shows have been rescheduled, or significantly reduced in capacity

The Black Keys were due to perform at a reduced capacity show with 10,000 in the audience on the 27th April, but this event was also pushed back to allow testing of critical emergency communication procedures.

General manager of the venue, Gary Roden, resigned shortly after the Peter Kay concerts were cancelled, futher adding to the furore around the fiasco.

At a testing gig with Rick Astley on 20 April, 4,000 of the 11,00 press, VIPs and arena workers had their tickets cancelled last minute.

The Co-op Live Arena is eventually expected to host 23,500 visitors, with the majority seated and 7,500 standing.

On Wednesday night, US rapper A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie’s gig was cancelled ten minutes after the doors opened, due to a part of the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system falling from the ductwork during the soundcheck.

US singer Olivia Rodrigo, who was to kick off her UK tour this weekend, has now cancelled her Co-op Live shows, to be rescheduled at a later date.

Concertgoer Emily P expressed her concerns over the cancelled shows and poor communication, as she was now “extremely out of pocket”.

“Safety is, of course, the number one priority”

Developer Oak View Group, who worked with the City Football Group on the Co-op Live Arena said that independent investigators were now testing the relevant parts of the HVAC system.

Tim Leiweke, Oak View Group chair and chief executive, said: “The safety and security of all visiting and working on Co-op Live is our utmost priority, and we could not and will not run any event until it is absolutely safe to do so.

“Today was a very unexpected situation but without a doubt the right decision. I deeply apologise for the impact that this has had on ticket-holders and fans.”

The Co-operative Group is seeking a “full explanation”

“As the naming rights sponsor for Co-op Live, we are shocked at the incident which has led to late cancellation of tonight’s show at the arena,” a Co-op Group spokesperson said.

“We are relieved that no one has been injured, but we share the disappointment and frustration of ticket-holders, many of whom are Co-op members, with the continuing delay to the opening of Co-op Live and the disruption that this is causing to everyone who has been looking forward to attending events.

“We will be seeking a full explanation from Oak View Group, who are responsible for the building, to the obvious questions arising from this, together with a clear plan from the Co-op Live venue management team at OVG for opening the venue and postponed and future events.

“Safety is, of course, the number one priority and it is critical that Co-op members and other ticket-holders can enjoy events in a venue with the very highest levels of security and safety measures in place.”

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