New £365m arena opening postponed following power problems

The opening of a new £365m entertainment venue has been postponed due to issues with its electrical systems.

The Co-op Live Arena in Manchester, set to become the UK’s largest indoor venue, was built by Bam Construct with Wates-owned SES Engineering Services delivering mechanical and electrical works.

Test events were held last weekend with a reduced capacity, with Peter Kay meant to be performing to around 20,000 people on Tuesday and Wednesday (23 and 24 April) and US rock band The Black Keys on Saturday (27 April).

However, the comedian’s performances were initially pushed back to next week and have now been postponed until 23 and 24 May.

The Black Keys are now set to open the venue, which is next to Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium, on 15 May.

A Bam spokesperson said: “Our team has been working incredibly hard to complete all the works at the Co-op Live, undertaking an extensive protocol of testing critical procedures to ensure all areas are ready for fans.

“Co-op Live has taken the decision to reschedule the planned The Black Keys and Peter Kay shows.

“Rescheduling these shows will give us extra time to continue the works without interruption.”

A joint statement from Manchester City Council, Greater Manchester Police, Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service and the North West Ambulance Service said they supported the decision to delay the venue’s opening as they believe more work is needed before it can open safely.

“Whilst we understand this will be disappointing, we cannot compromise on public safety,” it said.

“The elements outstanding include a fully tested emergency services communication system, and some remaining internal security systems, and fire safety measures.

“Work is progressing quickly in all of these areas, and all partners involved look forward to the venue being open and able to welcome guests safely once they are completed.”

In its initial statement on the delay to Kay’s shows, Co-op Live said the postponement was “critical to ensure we have a consistent total power supply to our fully electric sustainable venue, the completion of which is a few days behind”.

It added: “Rescheduling gives us the extra time we need to continue testing thoroughly. This is vital to satisfy the rigorous set of guidelines and protocols that are necessary for a venue of this size.”

In a new statement this morning, the venue said it had still not completed its testing of critical procedures to ensure all areas are ready for fans.

Rescheduling the concerts would “give us the extra time we need to continue testing enhanced emergency communications thoroughly”, it said.

Kay said: “My apologies once again but unfortunately the Co-op Live still isn’t ready and so, as yet, remains untested for a large-scale audience.

“Consequently, they are having to reschedule my two shows again (I know, I can’t believe it either).”

According to multiple reports, Co-op Live manager Gary Roden resigned on Thursday.

A source close to the project said that SES Engineering Services was not responsible for the delay.

Developer Oak View Group was also contacted for comment.

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