Co-op Live boss RESIGNS days before first show

Gary Roden
Gary Roden -Credit:MEN

Co-op Live's general manager has dramatically QUIT following a turbulent week ahead of the venue's launch. Gary Roden, also an executive director at Co-op Live, has resigned today (April 25).

It comes after the planned grand opening with Peter Kay on Tuesday was pushed back by a week amid power issues. And it comes days after comments Mr Roden made to the BBC about grassroots music venues sparked fury among music fans in Manchester and beyond.

A Co-op Live spokesman told the Manchester Evening News: "Gary Roden has decided to resign. We'd like to thank Gary for his help bringing the UK's newest arena to live entertainment fans and wish him the best for the future.

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"Rebecca Kane Burton has been named interim general manager, effective today. Rebecca is a seasoned veteran of venue management and live entertainment in the UK having served as vice president and general manager of The O2 from 2012-2016 and CEO of LW Theatres from 2016-2021. We are focused on opening Co-op Live.”

Mr Roden was appointed as general manager for the 23,500-capacity arena last April. He previously spent eight years at Ticketmaster UK. In a statement at the time of his appointment, Mr Roden said he was 'delighted' to be 'leading the team in Manchester to launch and operate a game-changing arena experience for both fans and artists'.

Gary Roden has dramatically quit as general manager at Co-op Live
Gary Roden has dramatically quit as general manager at Co-op Live -Credit:MEN

His resignation was first confirmed by Jessica Koravos, senior vice president at Oak View Group (OVG), the joint-owner of Co-op Live She told the Telegraph Mr Roden had 'decided to resign'.

The news comes after Saturday's test event had its capacity slashed from around 11,000 to 4,000 hours before it was due to start amid issues to do with power. The M.E.N. revealed how Greater Manchester's emergency services had raised concerns prior to that decision.

Bolton comic Peter Kay's grand opening for the arena on Tuesday and second show on Wednesday were then postponed by a week. The venue is currently expected to open with The Black Keys on Saturday, April 27, in front of a reduced capacity crowd of 10,000.

Ahead of that show, the M.E.N. understands bosses are working to satisfy various agencies on concerns around safety and that work is ongoing. Tim Leiweke, OVG managing director, told the BBC on Tuesday the venue was in 'hourly contact' with the emergency services ahead of Saturday.

Mr Roden came under fire this week following comments made to the BBC, in response to calls for a £1 levy on arena tickets, to go towards grassroots music venues. The BBC reported that Mr Roden believed that solution was 'too simplistic', and suggested that some venues are poorly run.

The comments attracted fierce criticism from Music Venue Trust, on the week where Co-op Live had already faced a number of hiccups. Ms Koravos told the Telegraph: "Neither Co-op Live nor Oak View Group share the sentiment expressed by former Co-op Live general manager Gary Roden regarding the grassroots industry.

"As OVG chairman and CEO Tim Leiweke has repeatedly stated, Co-op Live remains committed to grassroots music in Manchester and beyond, including teaming up with mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham on the Artist of the Month campaign, and as a founding partner of Beyond The Music [festival]. Co-op Live also donates over £1m a year to the Co-op Foundation to support communities and empower young people to take social action through its new Young Gamechangers fund."