Fans dismayed as Co-op Live Arena cancels show again

Fans dismayed as Co-op Live Arena cancels show again
Fans dismayed as Co-op Live Arena cancels show again
  • By Jonny Humphries & Ian Youngs
  • BBC News
1 May 2024, 19:04 BST

Updated 30 minutes ago

Image caption, Fans were left confused and disappointed after being handed a letter saying the gig was cancelled

Fans have reacted with shock and confusion as Manchester’s troubled new Co-op Live arena postponed its opening concert at the last minute.

The venue had already postponed its opening twice last week.

It meant US rapper A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie’s show would have become the first official event in its schedule.

Having canceled the show while fans queued up outside, the arena then confirmed OIivia Rodrigo’s shows on 3 and 4 May were also not going ahead.

The Co-operative Group has said it will be seeking a “full explanation” from venue owners Oak View Group.

‘Technical reasons’

Fans queuing outside A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie’s show told the BBC they were handed a letter saying the gig had been canceled for “technical reasons”.

Yasin, 20, told BBC Newsbeat he paid £25 for parking and arrived at the venue to be handed one of the pieces of paper.

He said: “I’m thinking is this real? Why isn’t it online? It was very unprofessional, I couldn’t believe it almost, like is this the way we’re finding out that it’s been cancelled?”

Yasin said he had been looking forward to attending the show and had been listening to the rapper’s music “on repeat” for two weeks.

“It makes me question future events, if they’re going to be planned properly or if it’s going to be organized enough”, he added.

Image caption, Yasin paid £25 for parking before finding out the gig was cancelled

Fan Katie Barnsley, who traveled up from Kent for the gig, found out it had been canceled just as she was about to get a tram from Manchester city center to the arena in the Etihad Campus.

The 28-year-old-insurance broker had traveled up from near Dover with her partner and his sister, and estimated they had spent around £600 on tickets, accommodation and petrol.

She said: “We were going on the tram and were asking the attendant how we got to the campus and he said, ‘Don’t bother, it’s been cancelled’.

“Then I went on Twitter and saw the tweet from the arena.”

Ms Barnsley said she had been apprehensive about traveling to Manchester because of the cancellation of earlier gigs at the venue, but was reassured by recent tweets from Co-op Live saying other shows would be going ahead.

‘Safety first’

The venue posted at 18:40 BST that the show would no longer go ahead as fans queued up outside waiting to go in.

A statement on X read: “Due to a venue-related technical issue, tonight’s A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie show will no longer go ahead.”

Co-op Live asked ticket-holders to leave the area and said they would “receive further information in due course”.

A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie, real name Julius Dubose, said an issue during the soundcheck before the show had led to the cancellation.

In a message on X, formerly Twitter, the 28-year-old musician told fans: “Something happened with the venue while I was at soundcheck today that caused cancellation of the show.

“We are working on rescheduling in the next few days.

“I’m heated about the situation too, but safety first Manchester, I got you, just stay tuned for further info.”

Image caption, The letter handed to fans outside the arena

On Wednesday evening the Co-operative Group, which has naming rights to the venue, said “shocked” at what had happened.

A spokesperson said: “As the naming rights sponsor for Co-op Live, we are shocked at the incident which has led to late cancellation of tonight’s show at the arena.

“We are relieved that no-one has been injured, but we share the disappointment and frustration of ticket holders, many of whom are Co-op members, with the continuing delay to the opening of Co-op Live and the disruption that this is causing to everyone who has been looking forward to attending events.

“We will be seeking a full explanation from Oak View Group, who are responsible for the building, to the obvious questions arising from this, together with a clear plan from the Co-op Live venue management team at OVG for opening the venue and postponed and future events.”

Peter Kay had been scheduled to be the first performer at the venue in April, but the show had to be postponed because the venue was not finished.

Co-op Live manager Gary Roden resigned last week, following the delays to opening and a backlash over comments he had made about some smaller live music venues being “poorly run”.

The arena distanced itself from his comments, saying it did not “share the sentiment”.

In a statement issued after the cancellation, Co-op Live said it had to pull the show because of an incident with a component in the heating and ventilation system during the soundcheck.

Oak View Group, said a nozzle used to direct air had “separated from ductwork”, which it believed was caused by a “factory defect”.

However, staff were not able to verify that other nozzles in the building were free of similar faults so took the decision to cancel the concert.

A spokesperson said: “We appreciate the inconvenience this will cause for many, and are deeply sorry for all those impacted.

“We understand the need to reassure fans about future shows.

“We are working with artist management and promoters to limit the impact on the opening season schedule.

“Where necessary, we will identify alternate dates, and will continually reassess to provide fans with sufficient notice regarding imminent shows.

“Should shows be canceled or rescheduled, fans will be contacted by their point of purchase and offered a full refund where preferred.”

Oak View Group chief executive Tim Leiweke apologized to fans but defended the cancellation.

He added: “The safety and security of all visiting and working on Co-op Live is our utmost priority, and we could not and will not run any event until it is absolutely safe to do so.

“Today was a very unexpected situation but without a doubt the right decision.”

The article is in Dutch

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