AO Arena Redevelopment Completed

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Elton John performing one of three sold-out “Farewell Yellow Brick Road” concerts at AO Arena last year. (Picture courtesy of AO Arena)

AO Arena has completed its monumental £50 million ($63 million) redevelopment and kicked off 2024 with what operator ASM Global described as “the biggest celebration in the venue’s history.”

But there’s more reason to celebrate than the completion of works to the building, as AO confirmed the extension of its naming rights partnership into 2030 at least.

AO Arena’s general manager Jen Mitchell said, “We are delighted to have extended our partnership with AO, a partner who shares our sincere commitment to improving our local communities. Together, we look forward to continuing our work shaping the thriving creative and cultural scene in Manchester.”

See: AO Arena Manchester Re-Imagines Itself In $62 Million Phased Development

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Manchester’s mayor, and Blossom’s Charlie Salt and Myles Kellock, placing their palms in cement on the concourse of AO Arena.

The building held a special topping out ceremony, Jan. 24, to celebrate the completion of the redevelopment. Manchester’s mayor Andy Burnham attended, and welcomed the new era of “The AO” in his speech to attendees. Burnham described the venue as “the beating heart of Manchester,” and celebrated its ongoing commitment to the city and its status as “the UK’s capital of music.”

Manchester chart-toppers, and Mercury Prize, and BRIT Award nominees Blossoms attended as special guests. The band were the first act to take the stage at AO Arena post-COVID. The Sept. 18 concert sold 14,395 tickets, grossing $591,369, according to Pollstar’s Boxoffice.

On Wednesday, at the topping out ceremony, the band placed their hands in cement on the concourse of AO Arena, “leaving their handprints in perpetuity in the fabric of the venue and immortalising their legacy in the city,” according to the press release.

Blossoms commented, “We’re excited to celebrate the official topping out of the re-developments and look forward to seeing what the future AO Arena has to offer.”

The £50m redevelopment of AO Arena includes an increased standing-floor capacity, transformed arrival experience, new concourse spaces, a revamped food and beverage offering, a new VIP entrance, and the soon-to-open The Mezz restaurant and bar concept.

For artists and crew, the building invested in a complete back-of-house update, including a new artist green room, as well as upgraded artist dressing rooms, and crew facilities.

The event-day guest experience was overhauled, new entrances, and state-of-the art technology mean, “that getting in and out of the arena will be the quickest in any venue in Europe, letting fans relax into the show.”

The lower concourse boasts a new bar area with a capacity of 6,000, designed to support the increased standing floor capacity within the arena bowl. There are new bars in the main concourse, as well, allowing the venue to serve more people more quickly, and providing guests with a much bigger choice of food and beverage.

Some upgrades that aren’t visible include the improved acoustics, and sound, industry-leading heating, and ventilation systems have been installed, and building security was improved with the addition of a new state-of-the-art control room.

AO Arena has hosted some of the world’s biggest artists across its 30-year history, including Prince, Elton John, New Order, The Rolling Stones, Madonna, Billie Eilish, Oasis, Dua Lipa, and many more. It has also played host to The Commonwealth Games, The Davis Cup, boxing bouts with Mike Tyson, Anthony Joshua, Ricky Hatton, and much more.

Last year, AO Arena celebrated its best year yet, celebrating record attendances for LTA Tennis, England Netball, KSI vs Fury, and Elton John’s farewell tour.

John sold out three nights at the building, May 31–June 3, selling a total of 44,178 tickets, and grossing $6,748,251, according to the Pollstar Boxoffice. Other 2023 highlights from the Pollstar Boxoffice include two sold out Post Malone shows, May 16-17, selling out 28,805 tickets for a $3,486,015 gross; SZA on June 13 (14,617 tickets, $1,596,726 gross); Shania Twain on Sept. 25 (14,965, $1,695,060); two sold-out nights by blink-182, Oct. 15-16 (32,781, $2,872,256); and Måneskin on Dec. 19 (13,292, $916,144).

Upcoming highlights at AO Arena include The National Lottery’s Big Night of Musicals, Peter Kay Live, The 1975, Bill Bailey, Niall Horan, Ne-Yo, and more.

Welcoming over one million people to the venue each year, AO Arena promises “to attract even more guests and fans through its doors to witness everything from internationally-acclaimed icons, the next generation of musical legends, comedy stars and sporting spectacles.”

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