Co-op Live Manchester boss quits days after Peter Kay's gigs at new venue were cancelled

The brand new venue, the largest indoor arena in Europe has been hit with problems in recent weeks
The new Co-op Live arena in Manchester. -Credit:Men Media

Within merely days after Peter Kay was forced to postpone his series of performances, the chief executive at Co-op Live in Manchester has handed in his resignation.

Gary Roden, who was not only the general manager but also an executive director at Co-op Live, called it quits from his post on Thursday, April 25. The departure follows a situation where the long-awaited debut event that involved Peter Kay was put off for a week due to power complications.

Bolton comedian Kay had to postpone his performances, set for Tuesday, April 23, as the testing of the venue's power supply lagged "a few days" behind. Co-Op Live Arena representatives used X, the platform previously known as Twitter, to assure things were on the right track with Peter scheduled to perform both Monday and Tuesday of the "next week".

Get the latest news straight to your phone by joining us on WhatsApp

Moreover, recent statements by Mr Roden regarding grassroots music venues to the BBC have drawn harsh criticism from Manchester's music fans and further afield. In a statement to the Manchester Evening News, a spokesperson for Co-op Live confirmed: "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.

"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," reports the Mirror.

Gary Roden, former general manager at Co-op Live
Gary Roden, former general manager at Co-op Live -Credit:MEN

Mr Roden was appointed as the general manager for the 23,500-capacity arena last April and previously spent eight years at Ticketmaster UK. News of his resignation comes after a test event on Saturday saw the capacity dramatically reduced from around 11,000 to 4,000 just hours before it was due to start due to power issues.

Jessica Koravos, senior vice president at Oak View Group (OVG), the joint-owner of Co-op Live, confirmed Mr Roden's resignation to the Telegraph. Prior to this decision, Greater Manchester's emergency services had expressed concerns, which were disclosed by the MEN.

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

In preparation for this show, venue bosses are working tirelessly to address safety concerns raised by various agencies. Tim Leiweke, OVG managing director, told the BBC on Tuesday that they were in 'hourly contact' with the emergency services ahead of Saturday.

Mr Roden has come under fire this week following his remarks to the BBC about a proposed £1 levy on arena tickets to support grassroots music venues. The BBC reported that Mr Roden dismissed this solution as 'too simplistic', implying that some venues are poorly managed.

His comments sparked a backlash from the Music Venue Trust, during a week that has seen multi-million-pound venue Co-op Live face a series of setbacks. The company's president, Francesca 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."