Owner ASM Global and its architect HOK have plans for significant infrastructure improvements and “innovative new guest amenities”.
The first phase will expand standing floor capacity, add new hospitality lounges and upgrade the concourse. There will also be new entrances, custom lounges and new VIP seating. Backstage improvements will include new dressing rooms, facilities and production areas.
The upgrade comes as a rival entertainment venue is under construction in the Eastlands area of the city, next to Manchester City FC’s Etihad stadium. Oak View Group (OVG) is investing £350m in what is set to be the UK’s largest indoor arena, with a capacity of 23,500, to be called Co-op Live.
The AO Arena, built in 1995 as the NYNEX Arena and with a 21,000 capacity, has to up its game.
“AO Arena is embedded in the urban fabric of Manchester and has long been a beloved spot for fans and artists alike,” said John Rhodes, director of sports and entertainment at HOK, and the renovation’s lead designer. “This extensive transformation will incorporate the latest and most impressive spectator offerings, from hospitality lounges to reimagined concourses and elevated premium offerings, while simultaneously upgrading back-of-house spaces to ensure the arena continues to attract the most impressive artists long into the future.”
Chris Bray, ASM Global executive vice-president, Europe, said “As we approach our 30th anniversary, this ambitious endeavour will reinforce AO Arena’s position as a leading destination for live entertainment and extend its market leadership for live experiences for the next 30 years.”