Manchester Arena

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Manchester Arena
MEN Arena.jpg
Exterior of venue
Former names NYNEX Arena (1995–98)
Manchester Evening News Arena (1998–2011)
Phones 4u Arena Manchester (2013–2015)
Location Trinity Way
Victoria Station
Manchester M3 1AR
Coordinates 53°29′17″N 2°14′38″W / 53.48806°N 2.24389°W / 53.48806; -2.24389Coordinates: 53°29′17″N 2°14′38″W / 53.48806°N 2.24389°W / 53.48806; -2.24389
Owner Mansford
Operator SMG Europe
Capacity 21,000
Built March 1993 (1993-03)
Opened 15 July 1995 (1995-07-15)
Construction cost £52 million
(£94.6 million in 2016 pounds[1])
Architect DLA Design, Austin-Smith:Lord and Ellerbe Becket
Structural engineer Arup Group Limited
Manchester Giants (BBL) (1995–2001)
Manchester Storm (BISL, BJL) (1995–2002)
Manchester Phoenix (EIHL) (2003–04)

The Manchester Arena is an indoor arena in Hunts Bank, Manchester, England. Situated immediately north of the city centre, most of the arena is situated above Manchester Victoria station in air rights space.

The arena has the highest seating capacity of any indoor venue in the United Kingdom, and fourth largest in the European Union with a capacity of 21,000 and is one of the world's busiest indoor arenas, hosting music and sporting events such as boxing and swimming.[2] The arena was a key part of Manchester's bids to host the Olympic Games in 1996 and 2000 and was eventually used for the 2002 Commonwealth Games.

Arena design[edit]

Arena during a concert

The structure was designed by DLA Ellerbe Beckett, Ove Arup & Partners, and Austin-Smith:Lord and described by Clare Hartwell as "a huge soulless sports and entertainment complex, grafted onto the back of Victoria Station". The arena is sited in air rights space over the station and was constructed without disrupting use of the station. The original plans included a glass tower which was not built. It originally hosted a 7 screen multiplex cinema (1996–2000), a multi-purpose arena and multi-storey parking. The former multiplex cinema is now used as a call centre.

A large truss measuring 105 metres spans the roof. Reinforced concrete is used to increase sound insulation. The upper parts of the building are clad in purple-grey with green glass.[3] The arena was opened on 15 July 1995.[4]

The arena was one of the first indoor venues in Europe to be built following layout of 360 degree seating,[5] and is the only arena in the UK to have this feature (London's The O2 also has 360 degrees seating, but only on its lower tier, whereas Manchester's arena features it on both tiers). Other European indoor venues built to the same concept include the Lanxess Arena in Cologne, Arena Zagreb in Zagreb, Spaladium Arena in Split, Kombank Arena in Belgrade, O2 Arena in Prague, and O2 World in Hamburg.


The arena during sponsorship by Manchester Evening News.
Phones 4u Arena logo used from 2013 to 2015.

The arena was constructed as part of the city's unsuccessful bid for the 2000 Summer Olympics.[6] Construction cost £52 million of which £35.5m was provided by government grants and £2.5m from the European Regional Development Fund. Although built as an American style sports arena it has been more successful hosting large music events.[7]

The arena opened in July 1995, sponsored by NYNEX CableComms as the NYNEX Arena, and was renamed the Manchester Evening News Arena in July 1998. In December 2011, the Manchester Evening News ended its thirteen year sponsorship, and the arena was renamed the Manchester Arena in January 2012.[8] In July 2013, in an multi-million pound sponsorship deal by mobile phone company Phones 4u, the arena was renamed to the Phones 4u Arena,[9] but this deal ended when Phones 4u closed, renaming the arena back to Manchester Arena, effective 14 January 2015.[10]

On the opening night, 15,000 spectators watched Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean perform; the crowd was a record for an ice event.[11] Attendance records were set in 1997 when 17,425 people watched Manchester Storm play Sheffield Steelers, a record for an ice hockey match in Europe. When 14,151 people watched Manchester Giants play London Leopards, it set a British record for attendance at a basketball match.[11]

The venue attracts over a million customers each year for concerts and family shows, making it one of the world's busiest indoor arenas, and was named "International Venue Of The Year" in 2002 in the 'Pollstar' awards, and was nominated in the same category in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009. The arena was named "Busiest Arena Venue In The World", based on ticket sales for concerts in 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007 ahead of other indoor arenas including the Madison Square Garden and Wembley Arena. The arena was the 'World's Busiest Arena' from 2001 until 2007 based on ticket sales for concerts, attracting five and a half million customers. It was voted 'Europe's Favourite Arena' at the TPi Awards in 2008 by the touring companies that bring the shows to the venue.

In 2008, the arena was world's third busiest arena behind London's The O2 arena and New York's Madison Square Garden. In 2009, it was the world's second busiest arena behind London's The O2 and ahead of Antwerp's Sportpaleis and Madison Square Garden. Although second to London's The O2, Manchester's arena had its busiest year with over 1,500,000 people attending concerts and family shows. The arena hosts over 250 events annually including comedy, live music and tours, sporting events, and occasionally musicals.[12]

World's Busiest Arenas – 2014[13]
Venue 2014 Ticket sales for concerts/shows
The O2, London, UK 1.82 million
The SSE Hydro, Glasgow, UK 1.05 million
Manchester Arena, Manchester, UK 1.01 million
Madison Square Garden, NY, USA 793,000
Monterrey Arena, Monterrey, Mexico 782,000
Barclays Center, Brooklyn NY, USA 724,000
Arena Ciudad Di Mexico, Mexico City, Mexico 714,000
Allstate Arena, Rosemont, IL, USA 653,000
Lanxess Arena, Cologne, Germany 642,000
Philips Arena, Atlanta, GA 608,000
Air Canada Centre, Toronto, Canada 585,000
Ziggo Dome, Amsterdam, Netherlands 577,000
Genting Arena, Birmingham, UK 550,000
Staples Center, Los Angeles, USA 520,000
O2 World Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany 519,000
Allphones Arena, Sydney, Australia 512,000



As one of the largest venues in the UK, the arena has hosted music concerts since opening in 1995 and is the arena's primary source of visitors.

The venue was used to record Westlife's Greatest Hits Tour DVD on 14 April 2003. Pink's performance, during her Try This Tour on 26 March 2004, was filmed and released on DVD as Pink: Live in Europe. McFly's Wonderland Tour was recorded there in 2005. Rihanna's Good Girl Gone Bad Tour was filmed on 6 December 2007 and released as the Good Girl Gone Bad Live DVD. The Spice Girls performed three shows during the Return of the Spice Girls Tour on 23/24/26 January 2008, the three last European shows of the tour. On 13–14 June 2008, Boyzone filmed their reunion tour, Back Again ... No Matter What DVD here. Morrissey filmed Who Put the M in Manchester on his 45th birthday on 22 May 2004.

In 2002, Kylie Minogue performed on the 1, 2, 3, 4, 11 and 12 May as part of her KylieFever2002 tour. Minogue also performed part of her Showgirl Tour on 23, 24, 26, 27 and 28 April 2005. In 2007, she performed on 12, 13, 18, 19, 21, 22 and 23 January as the final part of her Homecoming Tour. In 2008, she came back to perform on 11, 12, 14, 15, 17 and 18 July as part of her X world tour. Minogue came back on 1, 2, 4 and 5 April 2011 as part of her Aphrodite World Tour. Britney Spears performed at the arena on 6 November 2011 during her Femme Fatale Tour. Kylie Minogue performed at the arena on 26 September 2014. The performance marked the 30th time Minogue has performed at the arena, a record for the venue as its most performed artist.[14] It is also a record for Minogue, being the venue she has played to most in the world; she has played to 400,000 fans in total in the Manchester Arena.[15] The Manchester Evening News had previously described Minogue as the "undoubted queen of the Manchester Arena".[16]

In 2003, Christina Aguilera performed on 27 October as part of her popular The Stripped Tour. She also performed on 26 November 2006, now with her Back To Basics Tour

  • Janet Jackson was scheduled to perform her All for You Tour on 5 December 2001, but the show was cancelled, as was her entire European Tour. She will perform for the first time at the arena on 5 April 2016, as part of her Unbreakable World Tour.
  • The Rolling Stones made their most recent appearance in Manchester at the arena on 5 September 2003, as part of the Licks Tour.
  • Celine Dion performed the first two European shows of her Taking Chances World Tour at the venue in May 2008.
  • Cher performed one show on 17 May 2004 during the European leg of her Living Proof: The Farewell Tour.
  • Lady Gaga performed three sold-out dates at the arena for her first world tour The Monster Ball Tour. She then returned for one of her three UK dates as part of her third worldwide tour, The Born This Way Ball, with the full capacity selling out in under 10 minutes. She will also bring her 2014 world tour Artrave: The Artpop Ball to the arena for a show on 21 October 2014, the date sold out in less than 5 minutes. Gaga also confirmed when performing the song Telephone at the arena in 2012 that her number one single Born This Way was written backstage at this arena.
  • Madonna performed two shows on her Reinvention Tour in 2004 which were her first performances outside London since 1987. She again played the venue as part of her Sticky & Sweet Tour on 7 July 2009 and 14 December 2015 as part of her Rebel Heart Tour.
  • In July 2010, the arena celebrated its 15th birthday with a multi-artist gig, presented by Real Radio (North West).[17] An audience of nearly 10,000 was entertained by Scouting for Girls, Pixie Lott, The Script, Alexandra Burke, The Hoosiers, The Saturdays, Gabriella Cilmi, Taio Cruz, Craig David, Beverley Knight, Olly Murs, Amy McDonald, The Baseballs and Fyfe Dangerfield. Former steward, Peter Kay was a surprise guest which was hosted by Real Radio breakfast presenters Ditchy and Salty.

In November 2011, the arena hosted Children in Need Rocks Manchester which was broadcast live on BBC One as part of Children in Need 2011 and raised over 2,500,000 million pounds through ticketing and donations. In December 2011,

Kylie Minogue holds the record for the most performances at the arena

American entertainer Beyoncé performed 3 sold out shows at the arena as part of her The Mrs. Carter Show World Tour on 7, 8 and 9 May 2013. She returned on 25 and 26 February 2014 for 2 more sold out shows. The X Factor winner Sam Bailey was the opening act. Both shows became the fastest concert to sell out the entire arena in history. This was the 5th tour Beyoncé has performed at the arena following concerts for her Dangerously in Love Tour (2003), Destiny Fulfilled...and Lovin' It (2005), The Beyoncé Experience (2007) and the I Am... World Tour (2009).


The arena in ice skating configuration

The arena has been the home of three sports teams: the Manchester Storm and Manchester Phoenix ice hockey teams, and the Manchester Giants basketball team with limited success, as it is no longer used by sports teams but is used for one-off sporting events such as boxing and football masters.

Many boxers have had bouts in the arena, such as Amir Khan, Jermaine Johnson, Ricky Hatton, Joe Calzaghe, Mike Tyson, and David Haye. Hatton, from Manchester, became a regular and favourite at the arena.

The arena hosted mixed martial arts events. UFC 70 on 21 April 2007, and UFC 105 on 14 November 2009 for which it set the European record attendance for the largest UFC event outside the USA with 16,000 spectators. The arena also hosted UFC Fight Night: Machida vs. Munoz on 26 October 2013. The World Taekwondo Qualification Event for the Beijing Olympic Games was held at there on 28–30 September 2007 when 103 countries competed for 24 places at the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008. In April 2008, the arena hosted the FINA Short Course World Swimming Championships, the first time the event has been held in the UK. The arena was transformed with two 25 m swimming pools constructed in 18 days and seating provided for 17,250 spectators.[18]

Monster truck racing events have been staged but the floor space has to be extended and the front section of seating in the lower tier removed.[19]

Since 2008, it has played host to a week of the Premier League Darts.

On Saturday 26 February 2011 it played host to BAMMA 5.

In May 2011, the arena hosted a basketball contest between the Atlanta Dream (WNBA) and the Great Britain women's basketball team, billed as "WNBA Live", the first time a WNBA team had played in Europe. In July 2012, the arena hosted an international between Great Britain men's basketball team and the United States men's basketball team in the buildup to the 2012 Summer Olympics.


The first stand-up comedy performance was Peter Kay's final performance of his Mum wants a bungalow Tour in July 2003. He worked at the arena when it opened in 1996 and the performance was filmed for DVD release as Peter Kay at the Manchester Arena.[20] In 2005, Lee Evans set a world record for performing to the biggest audience in front of a crowd of 10,108.[21] Peter Kay's The Tour That Doesn't Tour Tour...Now On Tour ran for 20 consecutive nights and 20 nights at the end of the tour – a record for the venue.[22] Alan Carr filmed the DVD for Spexy Beast in Manchester.


On 19 July 2011 (with a final dress rehearsal in front of an audience on 16 July 2011) the arena hosted the world premiere of Batman Live, a touring stage show, including theatrical, circus and stage-magic elements, that focuses on the DC Comics superhero Batman.[23]

The arena also hosts the annual convention of Jehovah's Witnesses. In 2014 this was held on 22–24 August.

The arena also hosted Ant & Dec's Takeaway on Tour: Live on August 15–16, 2014. Over the two days, about more than 120,000 people attended both matinee and evening shows.

The arena has hosted TNA Wrestling and WWE events on numerous occasions, most recently the WWE Raw and WWE SmackDown TV tapings in November 2013 and Impact Wrestling in January 2015.

Technical facts[edit]

Panorama of the arena, facing the main stage
  • Lower tier fixed seated capacity – 10,762
  • Upper tier fixed seated capacity – 8,870
  • Ice hockey and gymnastics – up to 17,643
  • FINA Swimming championships 2008 – 17,250
  • Basketball – up to 20,500
  • Boxing – up to 21,000
  • Side stage – up to 11,150 (fully seated)
  • Conventional end-stage concerts – 13,500–15,800 (fully seated)
  • Conventional end-stage concerts – up to 19,350 (floor standing)[citation needed]
  • In the round concerts – up to 20,400 (fully seated)
  • In the round concerts – up to 21,000 (floor standing)
  • 30 hospitality business suites (seats up to 12 guests)
  • 8 top floor suites known as 'The White house' (each seats between 6 and 15 guests—located in the white sports commentators boxes when not in use)
  • 4 party suites (seats up to 25 guests)
  • The arena claimed to have the world's largest indoor video scoreboard when it opened in 1995. The videowall has been deactivated, but remains in situ mounted in the roof. It has been replaced with an LED Ribbonboard mounted on the video scoreboard's exterior.


Public transport access
Manchester Metrolink Manchester Metrolink Victoria
National Rail National Rail

The arena adjoins Manchester Victoria station which is served by Northern Rail, TransPennine Express, and Metrolink.

The arena car park is operated by National Car Parks, and has 958 standard and 65 disabled spaces.


  1. ^ UK CPI inflation numbers based on data available from Gregory Clark (2015), "The Annual RPI and Average Earnings for Britain, 1209 to Present (New Series)" MeasuringWorth.
  2. ^ "Manchester Evening News arena".  Retrieved on 28 March 2008.
  3. ^ Hartwell 2002, p. 237
  4. ^ Watson, Janine (25 July 1995). "Arena ready for Wets sell-out". Manchester Evening News. 
  5. ^ Taylor, Paul (13 July 2010). "The Arena put Manchester on top of the world". Manchester Evening News. Retrieved 6 July 2011. 
  6. ^ Parkinson-Bailey, John J. (25 May 2000). Manchester: An Architectural History (Hardcover ed.). Manchester University Press. p. 250. ISBN 0-7190-5606-3. Retrieved 2 October 2009. 
  7. ^ Taylor, Paul (13 July 2010). "The Arena put Manchester on top of the world". Manchester Evening News. Retrieved 14 November 2011. 
  8. ^ "MEN Media ends naming rights at Manchester Evening News Arena". Manchester Evening News. 13 September 2011. Retrieved 27 September 2011. 
  9. ^ Ferguson, James (31 July 2013). "Manchester Arena signs deal with Phones 4u". Manchester Evening News. Retrieved 2 August 2013. 
  10. ^ Evans, Denise (10 January 2015). "Manchester Arena to mark 20-year anniversary with name change". Manchester Evening News. Trinity Mirror. Retrieved 12 May 2015. 
  11. ^ a b Inglis 2004, p. 101
  12. ^ Will Pavia (5 January 2008). "From unwanted empty shell to the world's busiest venue". Manchester Evening News.  Retrieved on 31 August 2008.
  13. ^ "Manchester Arena is third busiest in the world" (PDF). 13 January 2015. 
  14. ^ Evans, Denise (17 March 2014). "Kylie Minogue to play record 30th show at the arena in Manchester". Manchester Evening News. Retrieved 17 March 2014. 
  15. ^ Denise Evans (17 March 2014). "Manchester is Kylie's number one city". Manchester Evening News. Retrieved 17 March 2014. 
  16. ^ Bourne, Diana (2 April 2012). "Review: Casual Kylie Minogue thrills the 'uber-fans' at Manchester Academy". Manchester Evening News. Retrieved 17 March 2014. 
  17. ^ "Venue profile: Finger on the pulse". Music Week. 10 July 2010. 
  18. ^ "City arena becomes swimming venue". BBC Online. 18 March 2008.  Retrieved on 31 August 2008.
  19. ^ "Monster Jam". Manchester Evening News Arena. Retrieved 6 July 2011. 
  20. ^ "Peter Kay – July 2003". Manchester Arena. Retrieved 24 September 2012. 
  21. ^ "Comic Evans breaks crowd record". BBC News. 20 November 2005. Retrieved 18 June 2012. 
  22. ^ "Peter Kay – The Tour That Doesn't Tour Tour – Farewell Tour". Manchester Arena. Retrieved 24 September 2012. 
  23. ^ Hughes, Rob (20 July 2011). "Batman Live, Manchester MEN, review". The Daily Telegraph (London). 


  • Inglis, Simon (2004), Played in Manchester: The architectural heritage of a city at play, English Heritage and Manchester City Council, ISBN 1-873592-78-7 
  • Hartwell, Clare (2002), Manchester, Pevsner Architectural Guides, Yale University Press, ISBN 978-0-300-09666-8 

External links[edit]