The Manchester Arena is an indoor arena in Manchester, England, immediately north of the city centre and partly above Manchester Victoria station in air rights space.

The arena has the highest seating capacity of any indoor venue in the United Kingdom, and second largest in the European Union with a capacity of 21,000 and is one of the world's busiest indoor arenas, hosting music and sporting events such as boxing and swimming.[3] The arena was a key part of Manchester's bids to host the Olympic Games in 1996 and 2000 and was eventually used for the 2002 Commonwealth Games.

The arena was temporarily closed following a terrorist attack by a suicide bomber on 22 May 2017, in which a suicide bomber killed 22 people and injured 500 more at the end of Ariana Grande's Dangerous Woman Tour. Shows that were scheduled to be at the arena were either moved to alternative venues, or cancelled completely. The arena reopened on 9 September for a special benefit concert headlined by Manchester-born singer Noel Gallagher.[1]

Arena design

Steps leading to entrance

First proposed during the regeneration of Manchester city centre during the 1980s, the structure was designed by DLA Ellerbe Beckett, Ove Arup & Partners, and Austin-Smith:Lord. The arena is sited in air rights space over the station and was constructed without disrupting use of the station. The original plans included a glass tower which was not built. It originally hosted a seven-screen multiplex cinema, a multi-purpose arena and multi-storey parking. The former multiplex cinema, which opened in 1996, closed after just four years and is now a call centre. Following the bombing, the foyer has undergone renovation which still remains in progress during 2017, although it has been reopened to the public.

A large truss measuring 105 metres (344 ft) spans the roof. Reinforced concrete is used to increase sound insulation. The upper parts of the building are clad in purple-grey with green glass.[4] The arena was opened on 15 July 1995.[5]

The arena was one of the first indoor venues in Europe to be built following layout of 360-degree seating,[6] and is the only arena in the UK to have this feature (London's The O2, formerly the Millennium Dome, also has 360-degree seating, but only on its lower tier, whereas Manchester's arena features it on both tiers). Other European indoor venues built to the same concept include the Lanxess Arena (Cologne, Germany), Arena Zagreb (Zagreb, Croatia), Spaladium Arena (Split, Croatia), Kombank Arena (Belgrade, Serbia), O2 Arena (Prague, Czech Republic), and the Barclaycard Arena (Hamburg, Germany).


The arena during sponsorship by Manchester Evening News
Phones 4u Arena logo used from 2013 to 2015

The arena was constructed as part of the city's unsuccessful bid for the 2000 Summer Olympics.[7] Construction cost £52 million of which £35.5m was provided by government grants and £2.5m from the European Regional Development Fund. Although built as an American style sports arena it has been more successful hosting large music events.[8]

The arena opened in July 1995, sponsored by NYNEX CableComms as NYNEX Arena, and was renamed the Manchester Evening News Arena in July 1998. In December 2011, the Manchester Evening News ended its thirteen-year sponsorship, and the arena was renamed Manchester Arena in January 2012.[9] In July 2013, in a multimillion-pound sponsorship deal by mobile phone company Phones 4u, the arena was renamed Phones 4u Arena,[10] but this deal ended when Phones 4u went out of business, renaming the arena back to Manchester Arena, effective 14 January 2015.[11]

On the opening night, 15,000 spectators watched Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean perform; the crowd was a record for an ice event.[12] Attendance records were set in 1997 when 17,425 people watched Manchester Storm play Sheffield Steelers, a record for an ice hockey match in Europe. When 14,151 people watched Manchester Giants play London Leopards, it set a British record for attendance at a basketball match.[12]

The venue attracts over a million customers each year for concerts and family shows, making it one of the world's busiest indoor arenas, and was named "International Venue Of The Year" in 2002 in the 'Pollstar' awards, and was nominated in the same category in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009. The arena was named "Busiest Arena Venue In The World", based on ticket sales for concerts in 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007 ahead of other indoor arenas including the Madison Square Garden and Wembley Arena. The arena was the 'World's Busiest Arena' from 2001 until 2007 based on ticket sales for concerts, attracting five and a half million customers. It was voted 'Europe's Favourite Arena' at the TPi Awards in 2008 by the touring companies that bring the shows to the venue.

On the evening of 27 May 1999, a reception was held at the arena to celebrate Manchester United's European Cup triumph in Barcelona 24 hours earlier, following the victorious side's parade around Manchester at the end of the season in which they became the first (and to date only) English team to win the treble of the league title, FA Cup and European Cup in the same season.[13]

In 2008, the arena was world's third busiest arena behind London's The O2 Arena and New York's Madison Square Garden. In 2009, it was the world's second busiest arena behind London's The O2 and ahead of Antwerp's Sportpaleis and Madison Square Garden. Although second to London's The O2, Manchester's arena had its busiest year with over 1,500,000 people attending concerts and family shows. The arena hosts over 250 events annually including comedy, live music and tours, sporting events, and occasionally musicals.[14]



Arena during a concert

As one of the largest venues in the UK, the arena has hosted music concerts since opening in 1995 and is the arena's primary source of visitors.[citation needed]

Spice Girls performed 4 sold out shows during their Spiceworld Tour in April 1998, 4 sold out shows in December 1999 on the Christmas in Spiceworld Tour and 3 sold out shows in January 2008 on The Return of the Spice Girls World Tour.

On 26 March 2000, English boy band Five performed at this venue as part of their Invincible Tour. The show was also filmed for a concert special, called Five Live, that was released on DVD and VHS later that same year.[15]

Janet Jackson performed there on 31 May 1998 as part of her The Velvet Rope Tour. Jackson was scheduled to perform during her All for You Tour on 5 December 2001, but the show was cancelled with the rest of her European tour because of possible terrorist threats.[16] The same happened on her 2016 Unbreakable World Tour because of scheduling conflicts.

Britney Spears performed at the arena for the first time on 13 and 14 October 2000 during her Oops!...I Did It Again Tour. She returned on 1 May 2004 during Onyx Hotel Tour. After not touring for five years, Spears returned on 17 June 2009 during her Circus Tour. In 2011, she returned once more for the Femme Fatale Tour. Seven years after her last world tour, she will return on 18 August 2018 as part of her Piece of Me Tour which follows her successful four year Las Vegas residency show.

Kylie Minogue previously held the record for the most performances at the arena

In 2002, Kylie Minogue performed on the 1, 2, 3, 4, 11 and 12 May as part of her KylieFever2002 tour. Minogue also performed part of her Showgirl Tour on 23, 24, 26, 27 and 28 April 2005. In 2007, she performed on 12, 13, 18, 19, 21, 22 and 23 January as the final part of her Homecoming Tour. In 2008, she came back to perform on 11, 12, 14, 15, 17 and 18 July as part of her X world tour. Minogue came back on 1, 2, 4 and 5 April 2011 as part of her Aphrodite World Tour. Minogue performed again at the arena on 26 September 2014. The performance marked the 30th time Minogue has performed at the arena, a record for the venue as its most performed artist.[17] It is also a record for Minogue, being the venue she has played to most in the world; she has played to 400,000 fans in total in the Manchester Arena.[18] The Manchester Evening News had previously described Minogue as the "undoubted queen of the Manchester Arena".[19] She will return on 1 October 2018 for the 31st time as part of her Golden Tour.

In July 2010, the arena celebrated its 15th birthday with a multi-artist gig, presented by Real Radio (North West).[20] An audience of nearly 10,000 was entertained by Scouting for Girls, Pixie Lott, The Script, Alexandra Burke, The Hoosiers, The Saturdays, Gabriella Cilmi, Taio Cruz, Craig David, Beverley Knight, Olly Murs, Amy McDonald, The Baseballs and Fyfe Dangerfield. Former steward, Peter Kay was a surprise guest which was hosted by Real Radio breakfast presenters Ditchy and Salty.

American entertainer Beyoncé performed three sold out shows at the arena as part of her The Mrs. Carter Show World Tour on 7, 8 and 9 May 2013. She returned on 25 and 26 February 2014 for two more sold out shows. The X Factor winner Sam Bailey was the opening act. Both shows became the fastest concert to sell out the entire arena in history. This was the fifth tour Beyoncé has performed at the arena following concerts for her Dangerously in Love Tour (2003), Destiny Fulfilled...and Lovin' It (2005), The Beyoncé Experience (2007) and the I Am... World Tour (2009).

Take That has performed at the Arena a record 38 times

In 2014, Katy Perry performed twice at the venue, on 20 and 24 May as part of her third concert tour, Prismatic World Tour

As of 2015 British pop group Take That, who were formed in Manchester, hold the record for the most number of performances.[21] A record which was previously recorded by another pop group Westlife with 33 performances.[22]

Olly Murs performed at the arena on 17 and 18 March 2017, as part of the first leg for his new UK tour, Spring & Summer Tour 2017.

Ariana Grande performed at the arena on 22 May 2017 as part of the Dangerous Woman Tour. After this, a suicide bombing took place at the foyer of the arena. (see below)

On 25 June and 1 August 2017, Celine Dion was set to bring her Celine Dion Live 2017 tour here, but it was replaced to First Direct Arena due to 2017 Manchester Arena bombing.

The arena was reopened by Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds and a cohort of local stars such as The Courteeners, Blossoms, Rick Astley and even comedian Peter Kay as part of the We Are Manchester event on 9 September 2017.

Metallica performed at the arena on 28 October 2017 in front of 19,423 people, as a part of their WorldWired Tour.

On 29 November 2017, Phil Collins performed one night here with his Not Dead Yet Tour.

On 1 December 2017, Gorillaz performed here with their Humanz Tour.

On 10 December 2017, Mariah Carey brought her All I Want for Christmas Is You, A Night of Joy and Festivity show here.

On 16 December 2017, Liam Gallagher played to a rapturous hometown crowd whilst performing on his UK tour to celebrate the release of his debut album As You Were.

On 10 February 2018, Kendrick Lamar performed his 3rd date of his European leg of The Damn Tour to a deafening crowd. This was his first time performing in Manchester since 2013.


The arena in ice skating configuration

The arena has been the home of three sports teams: the Manchester Storm and Manchester Phoenix ice hockey teams, and the Manchester Giants basketball team with limited success, as it is no longer used by sports teams but is used for one-off sporting events such as boxing and football masters.

Many boxers have had bouts in the arena, such as Amir Khan, Jermaine Johnson, Ricky Hatton, Joe Calzaghe, Mike Tyson, and David Haye. Hatton, from Manchester, became a regular and favourite at the arena.

The arena hosted mixed martial arts events. UFC 70 on 21 April 2007, and UFC 105 on 14 November 2009 for which it set the European record attendance for the largest UFC event outside the USA with 16,000 spectators. The arena also hosted UFC Fight Night: Machida vs. Munoz on 26 October 2013. The World Taekwondo Qualification Event for the Beijing Olympic Games was held there on 28–30 September 2007 when 103 countries competed for 24 places at the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008. In April 2008, the arena hosted the FINA Short Course World Swimming Championships, the first time the event has been held in the UK. The arena was transformed with two 25 m swimming pools constructed in 18 days and seating provided for 17,250 spectators.[23]

Monster truck racing events have been staged but the floor space has to be extended and the front section of seating in the lower tier removed.[24]

Since 2008, it has played host to a week of the Premier League Darts.

On 26 February 2011, it played host to BAMMA 5.

In May 2011, the arena hosted a basketball contest between the Atlanta Dream (WNBA) and the Great Britain women's basketball team, billed as "WNBA Live", the first time a WNBA team had played in Europe. In July 2012, the arena hosted an international between Great Britain men's basketball team and the United States men's basketball team in the buildup to the 2012 Summer Olympics.

In early April 2018, the revamped Dancing on Ice tour will perform at the venue.

On 13–15 April 2018, Universal's Fast & Furious: LIVE will perform at the arena, as part of the tour's second UK leg.

World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) have regularly hosted both live events and TV tapings at the Arena, including the taping of both Raw and SmackDown! Live in November 2017, Mayhem in Manchester in 1998, the UK version of No Mercy in 1999, and Rebellion in 2001 and 2002.


The first stand-up comedy performance was Peter Kay's final performance of his Mum wants a bungalow Tour in July 2003. He worked at the arena when it opened in 1995 and the performance was filmed for DVD release as Peter Kay at the Manchester Arena.[25] In 2005, Lee Evans set a world record for performing to the biggest audience in front of a crowd of 10,108.[26] Peter Kay's The Tour That Doesn't Tour Tour...Now On Tour ran for 20 consecutive nights and 20 nights at the end of the tour – a record for the venue.[27] Alan Carr filmed the DVD for Spexy Beast in Manchester.


On 19 July 2011, (with a final dress rehearsal in front of an audience on 16 July 2011) the arena hosted the world premiere of Batman Live, a touring stage show, including theatrical, circus and stage-magic elements, that focuses on the DC Comics superhero Batman.[28]

The arena also hosts the annual convention of Jehovah's Witnesses. In 2014, this was held on 22–24 August.

The arena also hosted Ant & Dec's Takeaway on Tour: Live on 15–16 August 2014. Over the two days, about more than 120,000 people attended both matinee and evening shows.

UFC 204 was held at the arena on 8 October 2016, headlining was a middleweight championship match between Dan Henderson and Michael Bisping.

2017 bombing

Following the Dangerous Woman Tour concert by American pop singer-songwriter Ariana Grande on 22 May 2017, a suicide bombing occurred in the arena's foyer area. Greater Manchester Police confirmed that twenty-three adults and children were killed, including the bomber, and 500 were injured.[29][30]


On 14 June 2017, it was confirmed that the arena would remain closed until September, with scheduled concerts either cancelled or moved to other venues.[31] On 16 August 2017, it was announced that the arena would reopen on 9 September, with a benefit concert featuring Noel Gallagher and other acts associated with the North West.[32] On 5 September it was announced the concert would be broadcast live on BBC Radio Manchester, Key 103 and Radio X.[33]

Technical facts

Panorama of the arena, facing the main stage
  • Lower tier fixed seated capacity – 10,762
  • Upper tier fixed seated capacity – 8,870
  • Ice hockey and gymnastics – up to 17,643
  • FINA Swimming championships 2008 – 17,250
  • Basketball – up to 20,500
  • Boxing – up to 21,000
  • Side stage – up to 11,150 (fully seated)
  • Conventional end-stage concerts – 13,500–15,800 (fully seated)
  • Conventional end-stage concerts – up to 19,350 (floor standing)[citation needed]
  • In the round concerts – up to 20,400 (fully seated)
  • In the round concerts – up to 21,000 (floor standing)
  • 30 hospitality business suites (seats up to 12 guests)
  • 8 top floor suites known as 'The White house' (each seats between 6 and 15 guests—located in the white sports commentators boxes when not in use)
  • 4 party suites (seats up to 25 guests)
  • The arena claimed to have the world's largest indoor video scoreboard when it opened in 1995. The videowall has been deactivated, but remains in situ mounted in the roof. It has been replaced with an LED Ribbonboard mounted on the video scoreboard's exterior.


The entrance to the foyer of the arena from Victoria station.
Public transport access
Manchester Metrolink Manchester Metrolink Victoria
National Rail National Rail

The arena adjoins Manchester Victoria station which is served by Northern, TransPennine Express, and Metrolink.

The arena car park is operated by National Car Parks, and has 958 standard and 65 disabled spaces.

See also



  1. ^ Temporarily closed for forensic investigation and repair work due to the Manchester Arena bombing. Events scheduled to take place were either cancelled or moved to alternative venues.


  1. ^ a b "Manchester Arena: Noel Gallagher to headline reopening concert". BBC News. 16 August 2017. 
  2. ^ UK Retail Price Index inflation figures are based on data from Clark, Gregory (2017). "The Annual RPI and Average Earnings for Britain, 1209 to Present (New Series)". MeasuringWorth. Retrieved November 6, 2017. 
  3. ^ "Manchester Evening News arena". smg-europe.com. Archived from the original on 10 February 2009.  Retrieved on 28 March 2008.
  4. ^ Hartwell 2002, p. 237
  5. ^ Watson, Janine (25 July 1995). "Arena ready for Wets sell-out". Manchester Evening News. 
  6. ^ Taylor, Paul (13 July 2010). "The Arena put Manchester on top of the world". Manchester Evening News. Retrieved 6 July 2011. 
  7. ^ Parkinson-Bailey, John J. (25 May 2000). Manchester: An Architectural History (Hardcover ed.). Manchester University Press. p. 250. ISBN 0-7190-5606-3. Retrieved 2 October 2009. 
  8. ^ Taylor, Paul (13 July 2010). "The Arena put Manchester on top of the world". Manchester Evening News. Retrieved 14 November 2011. 
  9. ^ "MEN Media ends naming rights at Manchester Evening News Arena". Manchester Evening News. 13 September 2011. Retrieved 27 September 2011. 
  10. ^ Ferguson, James (31 July 2013). "Manchester Arena signs deal with Phones 4u". Manchester Evening News. Retrieved 2 August 2013. 
  11. ^ Evans, Denise (10 January 2015). "Manchester Arena to mark 20-year anniversary with name change". Manchester Evening News. Trinity Mirror. Retrieved 12 May 2015. 
  12. ^ a b Inglis 2004, p. 101
  13. ^ [1]
  14. ^ Will Pavia (5 January 2008). "From unwanted empty shell to the world's busiest venue". Manchester Evening News.  Retrieved on 31 August 2008.
  15. ^ "Five: Live". 5 December 2000 – via Amazon. 
  16. ^ "Janet Jackson niet in Sportpaleis". 
  17. ^ Evans, Denise (17 March 2014). "Kylie Minogue to play record 30th show at the arena in Manchester". Manchester Evening News. Retrieved 17 March 2014. 
  18. ^ Denise Evans (17 March 2014). "Manchester is Kylie's number one city". Manchester Evening News. Retrieved 17 March 2014. 
  19. ^ Bourne, Diana (2 April 2012). "Review: Casual Kylie Minogue thrills the 'uber-fans' at Manchester Academy". Manchester Evening News. Archived from the original on 15 July 2012. Retrieved 17 March 2014. 
  20. ^ "Venue profile: Finger on the pulse". Music Week. 10 July 2010. 
  21. ^ "Take That have played a record 38 dates at the Manchester Arena". Manchester Evening News. 19 June 2015. 
  22. ^ https://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/incoming/article672907.ece
  23. ^ "City arena becomes swimming venue". BBC Online. 18 March 2008.  Retrieved on 31 August 2008.
  24. ^ "Monster Jam". Manchester Evening News Arena. Retrieved 6 July 2011. 
  25. ^ "Peter Kay – July 2003". Manchester Arena. Retrieved 24 September 2012. 
  26. ^ "Comic Evans breaks crowd record". BBC News. 20 November 2005. Retrieved 18 June 2012. 
  27. ^ "Peter Kay – The Tour That Doesn't Tour Tour – Farewell Tour". Manchester Arena. Retrieved 24 September 2012. 
  28. ^ Hughes, Rob (20 July 2011). "Batman Live, Manchester MEN, review". The Daily Telegraph. London. 
  29. ^ Rawlison, Kevin (22 May 2017). "Police warning after reports of explosion at Manchester Arena". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 May 2017. 
  30. ^ "Manchester Arena blast: 22 dead and 59 hurt". BBC News. 22 May 2017. Retrieved 22 May 2017. 
  31. ^ "Manchester Arena to stay closed until September". BBC News. 14 June 2017. Retrieved 14 June 2017. 
  32. ^ "Manchester Arena: Noel Gallagher to headline reopening concert". BBC News. BBC. 16 August 2017. Retrieved 16 August 2017. 
  33. ^ "Manchester Arena: Radio stations to broadcast reopening concert". BBC News. BBC. 5 September 2017. Retrieved 5 September 2017. 


  • Inglis, Simon (2004), Played in Manchester: The architectural heritage of a city at play, English Heritage and Manchester City Council, ISBN 1-873592-78-7 
  • Hartwell, Clare (2002), Manchester, Pevsner Architectural Guides, Yale University Press, ISBN 978-0-300-09666-8 

External links