Nicki Minaj fans blame venue - not her arrest - for last minute gig cancellation

Nicki Minaj fans who queued to see her in Manchester only for her arrest to lead to the concert being cancelled at the last minute have blamed the beleaguered venue for the fiasco.

Ticketholders queued outside the Co-op Live arena from as early as 9am on Saturday and were allowed inside at 7pm.

Minaj, however, had been arrested at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport on suspicion of possession of "soft drugs" and was not released until 9pm - when the gig was due to start.

Once inside, her fans, also known as Barbz, claim security staff told them she was already in the building. But at 9.40pm promoter Live Nation announced the event was being cancelled.

Alvin Christie, 29, from Liverpool, was among those who had camped out since Saturday morning.

He said: "I would say it was very poorly managed. When we arrived... they were actively telling fans that she had arrived and that everyone was going to dance tonight.

"For a lot of people that were asking those questions, that's obviously [keeping] people's hopes up. I understand that maybe they wanted to get people into the arena for health and safety risks to stop people being outside.

"But I think most importantly, they maybe could have advised people as soon as they've known that the show was postponed and we should be turned away when we're outside the arena, rather than holding loads of people in the arena."

Mr Christie said he does not blame Minaj, and says fans wanted her to be "in a good place" for the show.

"Die-hard Nicki fan" Charu, who also travelled from Liverpool for the concert, said the evening was "so ridiculously disappointing".

"My sister and I had been looking forward to this for months. I'm in the middle of taking my medical school exams and I had been working around this day and was so looking forward to it," they said.

"People around us said they'd travelled from Ireland and Scotland, paid for hotels for the night in Manchester, which is not cheap.

"So the fact that tickets will be refunded or still valid for another concert doesn't really put into perspective the time and money that we have all spent on this night."

No toilets for those queuing for hours

Fan Eileen Allardyce also claimed there were "no toilets" while she queued outside from around 4pm.

"I'm very disappointed, more so [with] the venue because, obviously, everyone was unravelling on social media, everyone knew what the situation was and the venue completely let us down," she said.

Dutch Police told Sky News Minaj was detained and eventually fined for "illegally exporting soft drugs from the Netherlands to another country".

The rapper claimed she arrived at her hotel in Manchester early on Sunday after spending "5-6 hours" in a cell in Amsterdam.

She then invited fans to her hotel, where according to videos on social media, she spoke to the crowds outside.

"I wanted to honestly tell you that I love you," she said.

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On X, the 41-year-old said the venue was "willing to go past 11pm", but unidentified members of staff had "succeeded at their plan to not let me get on that stage tonight".

A new date should be announced on Sunday, she added.

"One July option & one June option is currently being discussed. I'll find a way to not only make up the date with the performance but I'm going to create an added bonus for everyone that had a [ticket] for this show. Promise," she wrote.

The new £365m Co-op Live arena has been plagued with problems even before it opened on 14 May.

The 23,500-capacity venue was originally due to open with two Peter Kay stand-up shows on 23 and 24 April, but that was pushed back when problems emerged at a test event headlined by Rick Astley.

The arena then planned for US rapper A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie to open the arena on 1 May, but that was called off an hour before his performance, when the ventilation system fell from the ceiling.

The ventilation issue meant scheduled performances by US pop star Olivia Rodrigo and British band Keane were also postponed, while a series of shows by Take That were moved to the AO Arena elsewhere in Manchester.