AMG Puttin’ On The Ritz?

Academy Music Group is on a constant search for venues to add to its national network, and its next move may be in Manchester.

Crain’s Manchester Business ran a report titled "Live Nation aims to add fourth venue to Manchester portfolio," but AMG – in which LN holds a majority share with Irish promoter Denis Desmond’s Gaiety Investments – is more likely to be behind the move.

The local business paper points out that LN already owns the Palace Theatre, Opera House and the Apollo, and says a mid-size standing venue would be a good addition to the portfolio.

But such a building might be a better fit in an AMG U.K. network that already includes London, Glasgow, Newcastle, Liverpool, Sheffield, Birmingham, Oxford and Bristol, and will shortly include Leeds and Brighton.

Live Nation U.K. president Paul Latham, who represents the company on the AMG board, has confirmed that the latter is interested in opening up in Manchester but declined to say which building is the target.

The Crain’s article suggests it may be The Ritz on Whitworth Street, a 1,300-capacity venue that was once a regular stopping place on the U.K. touring circuit.

The 83-year-old building appears to be a likely choice, given it has scope for the refurbishment and re-branding programme AMG immediately undertakes with new acquisitions.

It’s also been in a state of limbo since former owner Candu Entertainment went into administration in March, which led to its business and assets being sold off to London-based property developer Company Time for £11.5 million.

Company Time is reportedly in discussion with several potential operators over leasing the building, which does about 70 shows and a few club nights each year.

"Discussions are ongoing, but it has generated interest from more than one party," venue manager Sean Cullen told Crain’s. "It would be good to get some new investment and keep the Ritz as one of Manchester’s leading venues. We need to continue putting on good concerts and club nights and we need it to go from strength to strength."

AMG’s Leeds building, which used to be the Town & Country Club and is another venue once very popular on the U.K. touring circuit, is set to open in autumn. The company will have spent an estimated £4.5 million on the project.