Industry News

Roden leaves Co-op Live after delayed opening

Co-op Live; Inset: Gary Roden

Co-op Live featured image credit: Nick Flynn/Co-op Live

Co-op Live has announced a further delay to its opening just hours after chief Gary Roden resigned following a chaotic week for the new £365m venue in Manchester.

Oak View Group, the £365m Manchester venue’s operator, announced the departure of the the executive director and general manager on Thursday after a calamitous few days for Co-op Live. After its grand opening was pushed back at the start of the week, Co-op Live today (Friday) announced that it will not now open until May.

In announcing Roden’s resignation, the US-based business distanced itself from Roden’s comments on grassroots music venue earlier this week which drew ire from many across the UK industry. Roden’s comments came amid the announcement on Monday that the new 23,500-capacity arena would not open as scheduled on Tuesday due to issues relating to the venue’s power supply.

Rebecca Kane Burton – formerly in charge of The O2 arena and Sodexo Live – has been announced as the interim leader at Co-op Live, which is set to become the UK’s biggest indoor venue when it opens.

OVG defends its record on grassroots music support

In a series of statements on April 25, Jessica Koravos, the president of international at Oak View Group, said that Roden had “decided to resign”.

She added in a separate statement: “Neither Co-op Live nor Oak View Group share the sentiment expressed by former Co-op Live general manager Gary Roden regarding the grassroots industry. As OVG chairman and CEO Tim Leiweke has repeatedly stated, Co-op Live remains committed to grassroots music in Manchester and beyond, including teaming up with mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham on the Artist of the Month campaign, and as a founding partner of Beyond The Music [festival]. Co-op Live also donates over £1m a year to the Co-op Foundation to support communities and empower young people to take social action through its new Young Gamechangers fund.”

Further delay

Comedian Peter Kay had been due to open the venue with back-to-back shows on consecutive days, but these performances were rescheduled. They have now been rescheduled once more, and are due to take place May 23 and 24.

A test gig from The Black Keys has also been postponed to May 15.

“It’s always been very important to me that we only open Co-op Live when it is safe and appropriate to do so, and rescheduling The Black Keys and Peter Kay gives the dedicated team the time and space needed to finalise systems and measures. I would like to offer my sincerest apologies to every fan that has been impacted by this decision and others this week, and join the full team in thanking them for their continued patience and support as we prepare to open our doors,” said Leiweke.

The arena had already issued an apology after it was forced to reduce capacity for last Saturday night’s test event featuring Rick Astley at short notice.

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