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Populous submits plans for UK’s largest indoor arena


Populous has submitted its design for a new 23,500-capacity stadium in Manchester for planning approval

The proposed multipurpose venue, for OVG Manchester, would be the UK’s largest arena. Its planned capacity would outstrip the Manchester Arena, which can hold 21,000 people and the O2 Arena in London, which has a 20,000 capacity.

Its Manchester arena is proposed for a 2.2ha site just north of Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium and occasionally used as an overspill car park for the football club.

The venue would comprise a main auditorium suitable for concerts, sports and entertainment events, offering the largest standing capacity in the UK. The proposed bespoke bowl features retractable seats on the lower tier to allow for varied configurations. The upper tier is lower than in similar venues so as to create a more intimate atmosphere.

The design comprises a grounded lower masonry plinth and an upper lightweight stepped box. The stadium’s black façade, which nods to the fact the site once housed Bradford Colliery, features LED screens and architectural lighting. The roof will have photovoltaic panels.

The scheme would also include a concourse, lounge spaces and back-of-house areas.

Populous specialises in venue design and previous projects include the 2012 Olympic Stadium and Tottenham Hotspur’s new ground.

Its senior principal and project architect Declan Sharkey said: ‘This groundbreaking venue will set new benchmarks in sustainable arena design, as well as creating an experience and form that sit perfectly within Manchester’s architectural context and vibrant community.’

OVG is part of the US sports and entertainment venue developer Oak View Group and is also behind City Football Academy on the Etihad Campus. It has said the venue will bring £350 million of private direct investment into the city.

It has appointed Royal BAM Group as the preferred construction partner. Also working on the project are ME Engineers, Buro Happold, Turner & Townsend, Vanguardia, Satore Studio and Deloitte.

OVG co-founder and chief executive Tim Leiweke said: ‘While we are living in uncertain times, we know that Manchester and its people are resilient. And we look forward to being intrinsic to the redevelopment of the east of the city, working in close partnership with local people who are the most important part of this project.’

The development is expected to provide 3,350 jobs during construction and more than 1,000 once open.


Readers' comments (3)

  • This building's impact on 'Manchester's architectural context' remains impossible to guess when we're only presented with a couple of images showing it in dusk verging on darkness.

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  • Instead of your vacuous comment Robert - which seems to plague the WHOLE AJ - why not look up the planning application to satisfy your curiosity?

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  • Not vacuous, how about a sensible comment - or are you merely an animal?
    It seems to me that there aren't nearly enough comments on much of work featured in these pages - I hope it's not disinterest, perhaps most people are too busy, or a bit like you - reluctant to be identified.

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