Co-op Live boss quits as Manchester arena pushes back launch

Co-op Live boss quits as Manchester arena pushes back launch

Co-op Live’s general manager and executive director Gary Roden has resigned following a troubled launch for the Manchester arena.

In a statement this morning (April 26), Co-op Live said it has "regretfully" decided to push back the opening shows from The Black Keys (who had been scheduled for Saturday, April 27) and Peter Kay to mid-May. All tickets are valid and refunds are available.

The venue will now open with gigs from A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie on May 1, and Olivia Rodrigo on May 3-4. The venue had been due to open this week with a show from comedian Peter Kay.

"Since making the difficult decision to postpone the live shows at Co-op Live due to take place this week, we have been undertaking an extensive protocol of testing critical procedures to ensure all areas are ready for fans," said a statement. "To ensure that we can run all shows safely, regretfully we have now had to take the decision to reschedule the planned The Black Keys and Peter Kay shows.

"Rescheduling Peter Kay and The Black Keys will give us the extra time we need to continue testing enhanced emergency communications and measures thoroughly. This is vital to satisfy the rigorous set of guidelines and protocols that are necessary for a venue of this size to ensure that our fans, artists and staff have the safest experience possible."

Roden spoke to Music Week ahead of the opening of the venue, which is set to be the biggest arena for music in the UK with a top capacity of 23,500. 

Oak View Group and City Football Group are behind the ambitious £365 million arena development, with other investors including SJM, Gaiety Investments and Harry Styles, who posted a message of support for the venue launch in the past few days.

But the launch has not gone to plan so far with the opening show on April 24 from Peter Kay having to be postponed. 

The arena also had to reduce capacity for the first test event last weekend from Rick Astley after free tickets had already been distributed. As well as causing inconvenience for thousands of fans, the cancellation of tickets just hours before the performance led to negative headlines ahead of the official launch.

It’s always been very important to me that we only open Co-op Live when it is safe and appropriate to do so

Tim Leiweke

Tim Leiweke, chairman and CEO, Oak View Group, said: “It’s always been very important to me that we only open Co-op Live when it is safe and appropriate to do so, and rescheduling The Black Keys and Peter Kay gives the dedicated team the time and space needed to finalise systems and measures. I would like to offer my sincerest apologies to every fan that has been impacted by this decision and others this week, and join the full team in thanking them for their continued patience and support as we prepare to open our doors.”

A statement from the Co-op Group said: “As the naming rights sponsor for Co-op Live, we are very disappointed in the delayed opening of the venue and fully recognise the disruption this has caused to affected ticket holders, many of whom are Co-op members.

“Co-op Live is an incredible venue and is a force for good for Manchester, our region and the UK as a whole. We look forward to seeing the venue fully open in accordance with the timescales provided by OVG today.”

Roden’s sudden resignation was confirmed by the venue. Prior to Co-op Live, Roden spent eight years at Ticketmaster UK, most recently as senior vice president of client development and commercial.

Rebecca Kane Burton has been named interim GM of Co-op Live. 

In a statement supplied to Music Week, Co-op Live said: “Gary Roden has decided to resign. We'd like to thank Gary for his help bringing the UK's newest arena to live entertainment fans and wish him the best for the future.

“Rebecca Kane Burton has been named interim GM, effective today. Rebecca is a seasoned veteran of venue management and live entertainment in the UK having served as VP/GM of The O2 from 2012-2016 and CEO of LW Theatres from 2016-2021. We are focused on opening Co-op Live.”

Upcoming dates in the weeks ahead include shows from A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie, Olivia Rodrigo, Keane, Take That and Elbow.

In addition to the delays, Roden prompted a backlash with comments about grassroots venues amid the debate about a £1 levy on arena shows to support the sector. 

"Why is a small venue failing?" said Roden in a BBC interview. "Absolutely, en masse bills are going up and this, that and the other. But ultimately if there are 1,000 venues, one of them is going to be the best-run venue and one of them is going to be the poorly run venue, and where does the money go?"

A statement from the arena said it did not "share the sentiment" and that "Co-op Live remains committed to grassroots music in Manchester and beyond".

Co-op Live will give more than £1 million a year to the Co-op Foundation charity, which would include support for small venues.


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