AO Arena’s toppping out ceremony

The AO Arena marked the completion of its £50m redevelopment and kicked off 2024 with the celebration for the venue’s history. AO also confirmed the extension of its naming rights partnership into 2030.

Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham was in attendance, making a speech to attendees and welcoming the new era of “The AO”. Plus Mercury Prize and Brit Award nominees Blossoms were invited to attend as special guests.

Burnham described the venue as “the beating heart of Manchester” and celebrated its ongoing commitment to the city and its status as the UK’s capital of music.

The band placed their hands in cement on the concourse, leaving their handprints in perpetuity in the fabric of the venue and immortalising their legacy in the city. Blossoms said, “When the AO Arena opened again after Covid, we were the first band to play a gig here. We’re excited to celebrate the official topping out of the re-developments and look forward to seeing what the future AO Arena has to offer.”

AO Arena is the biggest in Europe and one of the busiest indoor venues in the world. On a mission to future-proof the venue for generations to come, AO Arena has undergone a £50m redevelopment. For artists and crew, the venue has seen a complete back-of-house update to further the artist experience including a new artist green room, as well as upgraded artist dressing rooms and crew facilities.

Brand new entrances and technology mean that getting in and out of the arena will be quicker in any venue in Europe, letting fans relax into the show. There is a brand new lower concourse bar area, with a capacity of 6,000, designed to support the increased standing floor capacity within the arena bowl. There are new bars in the main concourse, allowing the venue to serve more people more quickly, and providing guests with a much bigger choice of food and beverage than ever before.

Plus, the anticipated new bar and restaurant, The Mezz is set to open in March. Here, AO Arena will be treating guests to an unrivalled pre-show experience with some of the best seats in the house and access to some of the best restaurants in the world. This comes as a result of its partnership with chef Simon Rogan MBE of UMBEL restaurants and chef Tom Barnes of Skof restaurant. The partnership will see the introduction of quarterly seasonal dishes, regular appearances from both chefs and access to produce from Simon Rogan’s ‘Our Farm’.

There have been upgrades to the areas that guests do not see, with improved acoustics and sound. Heating and ventilation systems have been installed, which are essential in any build in a post covid world, to make the whole venue safer and more environmentally sustainable. There are improvements to the venue’s security, too, with the addition of a new control room.

Supported by AO since 2020 on an initial five-year deal, it is announced today that the naming rights partnership will extend until at least 2030. Jen Mitchell, GM of AO Arena said, “We are delighted to have extended our partnership with AO, a partner who shares our sincere commitment to improving our local communities. Together, we look forward to continuing our work shaping the thriving creative and cultural scene in Manchester.”

For its tenure, the AO Arena has underpinned Manchester’s thriving music scene with world-class artists including as Prince, Elton John, New Order, The Rolling Stones, Madonna, Billie Eilish, Oasis, Dua Lipa, The Courteeners and much more.

AO Arena raised tens of thousands and gave hundreds of hours to local community projects in 2023.