Manchester Evening News Arena
The Manchester Evening News Arena or M.E.N. Arena is a large indoor arena in Manchester, England. It is currently sponsored by the Manchester Evening News and has a maximum capacity of 21,000 depending on the event being staged, making it one of the largest indoor arenas in Europe. It was opened in 1995, and was initially sponsored by NYNEX CableComms (a British cable television provider, part of the NYNEX Corporation, a telephone service provider in the United States) as the NYNEX Arena. The Arena took its current name in 1998 after the NYNEX brand name had disappeared as a result of a merger with Cable & Wireless Communications in 1997. The M.E.N. Arena is one of the world's busiest indoor arenas and concert venue. The arena was built to coincide with Manchester's two bids to host the Olympic games in 1996 and 2000 (which were won by Atlanta in 1996 and Sydney in 2000). The M.E.N. Arena was one of the first indoor venues in Europe to be built following the traditionally American sports arena layout of 360 degree seating, and is the only arena in the UK to have this feature (London's O2 Arena also has 360 degrees seating, but only on its lower tier, whereas the M.E.N. Arena features it on both tiers). Other European indoor venues built to the same concept include the Lanxess Arena in Cologne, Arena Zagreb in Zagreb, Spaladium Arena in Split, Belgrade Arena in Belgrade, O 2 Arena in Prague, O 2 World Hamburg in Hamburg, and The O 2 in London.

The Manchester Evening News Arena was constructed as part of Manchester's unsuccessful bid for the 2000 Summer Olympics. It cost £52 million to build with £35.5m from government grants and £2.5m from the European Economic Development Fund. The structure was designed by DLA Ellerbe Beckett, Ove Group, and Austin-Smith:Lord. The arena was opened on 15 July 1995. On the opening night, 15,000 spectators watched Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean perform; the crowd was a record for an ice event. Attendance records were set in 1997 when 17,425 people watched Manchester Storm play Sheffield Steelers, a record for an ice hockey match in Europe. When 14,151 people watched Manchester Giants play London Leopards, it set a new British record for attendance at a basketball match. On July 15, 2010, the M.E.N. Arena celebrated its 15th birthday with a multi-artist gig, presented by Real Radio (North West). An audience of nearly 10,000 was entertained by headline acts Scouting for Girls, Pixie Lott, The Script, Alexandra Burke, The Hoosiers, The Saturdays, Gabriella Cilmi, Taio Cruz, Craig David, Beverley Knight, Olly Murs, Amy McDonald, The Baseballs and Fyfe Dangerfield. Former M.E.N Arena steward Peter Kay was a surprise guest on the night which was hosted by Real Radio breakfast presenters Ditchy and Salty.

Arena success

The M.E.N. Arena has attracted a huge number of customers since opening its doors in 1995, as it is Europe's largest concert venue. The opening event held there was a performance by Torvill and Dean, as part of their farewell tour. The venue attracts over a million customers each year for concerts and family shows alone, making the venue one of the world's busiest indoor arenas, in regard to this the M.E.N. Arena was named "International Venue Of The Year" in 2002 by concert industry insiders in the 'Pollstar' awards, and was nominated in the same category in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009. The M.E.N. Arena was also named "Busiest Arena Venue In The World", based on ticket sales for concerts in 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007 beating competition from other indoor arena's including New York's Madison Square Garden and London's Wembley Arena. (2007 figures) The Arena has also been named the 'World's Busiest Arena' from 2001 until 2007 based solely on ticket sales for concerts, attracting five and a half million customers to concerts. The M.E.N. Arena was voted 'Europe's Favourite Arena' at the TIP Awards for 2008 voted for by the numerous touring companies that bring the shows to the venue. In 2008, the M.E.N. Arena was named world's third busiest arena behind London's O2 Arena and New York's Madison Square Garden. In 2009, the MEN Arena was named world's second busiest arena behind London's O2 Arena and in front of Antwerp's Sportpaleis in Belgium and New York's Madison Square Garden. Although coming second place to London's O2 Arena the M.E.N. Arena had its busiest year in its history with over 1,500,000 people attending concerts and family shows at the venue. The arena hosts over 250 events annually including comedy acts, live music and tours, sporting events, and occasionally musicals. Janet Jackson was scheduled to perform during her All for You Tour on December 5, 2001, but the show was cancelled, due to the September 11, 2001 attacks. Kylie Minogue did a special webcast of her KylieFever2002 tour back in 2002 on MSN for fans around the world to view. The venue was used to record Westlife's Greatest Hits Tour DVD on 14 April 2003. P!nk's performance, during her Try This Tour on 26 March 2004, was filmed & later released as a DVD, titled Pink: Live in Europe . McFly recorded their Wonderland Tour at the arena in 2005. The DVD was one of their 3 number one music DVD's. Rihanna's performance, during The Good Girl Gone Bad Tour on 6 December 2007, was filmed & later released as a DVD, titled Good Girl Gone Bad Live . The Spice Girls performed 3 shows during the Return of the Spice GirlsTour on 23/24/26 January 2008, the three last European shows of the whole tour. On 13”“14 June 2008, Boyzone filmed their reunion tour, Back Again...No Matter What DVD here.

The M.E.N. Arena has been the home of three sports teams: the Manchester Storm and Manchester Phoenix ice hockey teams, and the Manchester Giants basketball team. However, with limited success, as the arena is not currently the home of any sports teams the venue is often promoted as a 'world class concert facility', However the arena is regularly used for one-off sports events such as boxing and football masters. Many popular boxers have had bouts in the arena, such as Amir Khan, Jermaine Johnson(boxer), Ricky Hatton, Joe Calzaghe, Mike Tyson, and more recently David Haye. Hatton (a Manchester native) became a regular and favourite of the M.E.N. Arena. World Wrestling Entertainment has hosted multiple events at the Arena over the years. It first hosted WWF Mayhem in Manchester in 1998 drawing over 19,600 people (a European record for an indoor WWF/WWE event). The arena also hosted No Mercy in 1999. On 26 October 2002 it hosted the SmackDown! UK-only pay-per-view WWE Rebellion, as it did in 2001. Also on 11 October 2004, it hosted a RAW taping, and was followed the next day by a taping of WWE SmackDown!. RAW and SmackDown! returned to the M.E.N. Arena on 13 and 14 November 2006 and returned for live tapings of RAW and Smackdown on 10 and 11 November 2008 respectively. Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA), made their first appearance at the arena in January 2009 and again in January 2010. The M.E.N. Arena has also hosted mixed martial arts events. UFC 70 on 21 April 2007, and UFC 105 on 14 November 2009 for which set the European record for largest UFC event outside the USA with 16,000 people in attendance. The World Taekwondo Qualification Event for the Beijing Olympic Games was held at the Arena on 28”“30 September 2007; at this event 103 countries competed for 24 places at the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008. Also in April 2008, the arena hosted the FINA Short Course World Swimming Championships, the first time it has been held in the UK. For this occasion, the arena was transformed into a 17,250-seat swimming event venue. Two 25 m swimming pools were constructed into the floor of the arena and the pools were completed within 18 days. The arena was also used by Manchester United when they won the Champions League Final in 1999. The arena was the final destination of their bus tour which saw United parading the trophy to around 750,000 fans across Manchester, including 19,500 fans in the arena itself. The 2008 UEFA Champions League Final was also shown in the arena on a big screen in front of 7000 spectators. Monster truck racing events have also been staged at the arena in the past. To allow for the arena floor space to be extended for such events, the front section of seating in the lower tier (from around row H forward) can be removed.

Technical facts
  • Lower tier fixed seated capacity ”“ 10,762
  • Upper tier fixed seated capacity ”“ 8,870
  • Large theatre setup ”“ 7,600
  • Small theatre setup ”“ 3,500
  • Ice hockey and gymnastics ”“ up to 17,643
  • FINA Swimming championships 2008 ”“ 17,250
  • Basketball ”“ up to 20,500
  • Professional Wrestling ”“ 14,000 to 18,500
  • Boxing ”“ up to 21,000
  • Side stage ”“ up to 11,150 (fully seated)
  • Conventional end-stage concerts ”“ 13,500”“15,800 (fully seated)
  • Conventional end-stage concerts ”“ up to 19,350 (floor standing)
  • In the round concerts ”“ up to 20,400 (fully seated)
  • In the round concerts ”“ up to 21,000 (floor standing)
  • 30 hospitality business suites (seats up to 12 guests)
  • 8 top floor suites known as 'The White house' (each seats between 6 and 15 guests"located in the white sports commentators boxes when not in use)
  • 4 party suites (seats up to 25 guests)
  • The arena has its own 1,500 capacity car park
  • The arena is the European flagship venue of SMG
  • Like Madison Square Garden in New York City, Philips Arena in Atlanta, and TD Banknorth Garden in Boston, The M.E.N. Arena is situated beside/above a main railway station ( Victoria Station). This means that people can get a train to the venue instead of driving.
  • The M.E.N. Arena did claim to have the world's largest indoor video scoreboard when the venue opened in 1995. The videowall has since been removed and replaced with an LED Ribbonboard.

Visitor transport information
The venue adjoins Victoria train station. This therefore provides good access to the arena from train lines calling here. A Metrolink tram stop is also located in the train station. This provides services to Bury in one direction and the city centre, onwards to Altrincham and Eccles, in the other. NB Those travelling from Eccles will have to change either at Cornbrook or St Peter's Square. Visitors travelling by train to Manchester Piccadilly can either walk to the arena or catch a Metrolink tram from Piccadilly to Victoria. A number of bus routes always run to the area of the arena. The arena has its own large car park nearby but by its nature endures delays upon departure after the event, as everyone tries to exit at the same time. Other smaller car parks are located around the city centre. On-street parking can be found in the area and on the various streets around the main Deansgate street area.

'World's Busiest Arena' - 2007 Venue 2007 Ticket sales for concerts/shows Manchester Evening News Arena, Manchester, UK 1,245,196 Madison Square Garden, New York City, USA 1,230,433 O2 Arena, London, UK 1,209,376 Wembley Arena, London, UK 901,778 Air Canada Centre, Toronto, Ontario, Canada 670,255 HP Pavilion, San Jose, California, USA 666,587 Bell Centre, Montréal, Québec, Canada 620,403 Philips Arena, Atlanta, Georgia, USA 564,258 American Airlines Center, Dallas, Texas, USA 539,030 Time Warner Cable Arena, Charlotte, NC, USA 527,694