International venue management giant ASM Global said it plans to expand the capacity of the AO Arena and spend £50 million over the next three years upgrading the facilities at the venue, formerly known as the Manchester Arena.
ASM Global was launched in 2019 following the merger of AEG Facilities and then Manchester Arena operator SMG. It said the AO Arena refurbishment will commence this summer with “state-the-art infrastructure expansion and innovative guest features”.
The first phase of enhancements will include increasing the standing floor capacity, adding new hospitality lounges, upgrading concourse areas, and creating a new back-of-house area for artists. ASM Global EVP Europe Chris Bray said the latter will be “unparalleled anywhere.”
The back of house changes are set to include new artist dressing rooms and production areas, a green room with meet and greet facilities, an overhaul of crew catering, and “first-class” connectivity and technology.
In September 2020, ASM Global signed a five-year naming rights deal with Bolton-based online electricals retailer AO to rebrand the venue. It also submitted development plans for the AO Arena to Manchester City Council that included its capacity being expanded from 21,000 to 24,000.
AO Arena general manager Jen Mitchell said, “This is a really exciting time for the AO Arena. Not only are we able to welcome guests back after a challenging two years, with a programme packed full of world-class acts and entertainment; now we can reveal the first phase of ASM Global’s plans for the arena’s redevelopment. This will not only elevate the experience for guests and fans, but for everyone who sets foot in the venue, including artists, production, crew and our staff who work so hard to make the magic happen right here in Manchester.”