Populous and BAM announced as team behind UK’s largest arena project


The plans from Oak View Group for a new 23,500-capacity arena in Manchester have moved a step forward following the announcement that the principal architect and construction partner for the project have been confirmed.

Construction company the Royal BAM Group and architecture giants Populous will be the key names making up a team that will build the new arena in Manchester’s Eastlands area.

The venue would be the largest arena in the UK, bringing £350 million private direct investment into the city.

This follows an announcement last week that OVG – the global sports and entertainment company founded by Tim Leiweke and Irving Azoff in 2015 – had submitted formal plans for the arena to be built in the Eastlands area of Manchester, a city famous for its music, entertainment, and sporting heritage.

BAM has built stadia across the world, and has been active in the North West since 1933, having built the City Football Academy, the National Graphene Institute and the Co-Operative Group HQ.

OVG confirmed Populous, a sports and entertainment architect whose projects include Tottenham Hotspur’s new stadium, Manchester City’s stadium expansion, The O2, and Wembley Stadium as the principal architect and designer of the new venue. It is understood it has helped OVG place inclusivity, safety, and sustainability at the heart of its plans.

The new arena will deliver the best in class artist-fan experience for any arena in Europe, have the flexibility to accommodate multiple event types so Manchester can host a broader range of music, sport and entertainment events, and would be the most sustainable arena in the UK.

Alongside BAM and Populous, BuroHappold, ME Engineers, Vanguardia, Turner & Townsend and Deloitte will make up the project team that will deliver the new arena. Members of the team have unrivaled experience on working on global iconic entertainment and sport destinations and will assist delivery of OVG’s vision of building the best venue in the UK and Europe.

Tim Leiweke, co-founder and chief executive of Oak View Group, said: “I’m thrilled that we have put together a project team of such caliber, and with such strong links to the beating heart of the North West – Manchester.

“While we are living in uncertain times, we know that Manchester and its people are resilient. And we look forward to being intrinsic to the redevelopment of the east of the City, working in close partnership with local people who are the most important part of this project.

“Manchester is a thriving and vibrant city – and along with BAM, Populous, and our other incredible partners, we are excited about a new addition to its entertainment scene in the coming months.”

As well as creating a talented project team to design and build the new arena, OVG would ensure that jobs and employment opportunities at Manchester Living Wage or higher are made available to residents – 3,350 jobs during construction and over 1,000 once opened.

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James has been Editor of Stadia since 2018 having worked at print and digital magazines and websites around the world covering everything from lifestyle to sport, technology, motoring, and more. He also edits Electric & Hybrid Vehicle Technology International.

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