'You can get two pints in here for what they're charging at Co-op Live'

Tony Carroll, landlord of The Townley pub in Beswick
Tony Carroll, landlord of The Townley pub in Beswick -Credit:Manchester Evening News

Its opening might have been plunged into chaos. But pub landlords near the new Co-op Live arena hope that - when it's finally up-and-running - the £365m venue will provide a welcome boost to trade.

With more than 23,000 people set to pack out the arena several nights a week, local boozers in nearby Beswick and Bradford are hoping gig-goers will pop in for a few pints before the show. And with drinks prices a fraction of what's being charged inside, they'll be saving a few quid if they do.

"It can only be good for business- I can't see it not being good," said Tony Carroll, long-serving landlord of The Townley on Albert Street in Beswick.

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"If we get 100 people in and they all spend a fiver that's £500 that we wouldn't normally have. If we get 10 people in it's 10 customers we wouldn’t normally have.

"City have looked after us for 15 years, this is just a bonus. The only thing is the parking is going to be crazy.

"There will be teething problems, but give it 12 months and it will settle down. But City have been putting concerts on for 15-20 years and they're always great."

Tony, who has ran the pub for 27 years, says the arena's opening is just the latest step in the remarkable transformation of this once run-down and neglected corner of east Manchester.

Fans waiting to get into Co-op Live on Wednesday evening
Fans waiting to get into Wednesday's Boogie Wit Da Hoodie concert at Co-op Live, which was cancelled at the last minute -Credit:Sean Hansford | Manchester Evening News

"Thirty years ago nobody wanted to know east Manchester - look at it now," he said. "Houses are going for £300k.

"Back then you could have bought the whole of Beswick for £300k. The area is just getting better and better."

As the Manchester Evening News reported, at £8.95 a pint and £11.50 for a burger the sky-high food and drink prices in the arena have caused a bit of a stir since they were first revealed at a test event headlined by Rick Astley a fortnight ago. But Tony hopes that will also play into the hands of local pubs.

"Who has looked around and come up with those prices?" said Tony, who serves Carling at £3.60 a pint. "Mary Ds is the most expensive pint in Beswick and they're still under a fiver.

"Some people are not going to pay it, so hopefully they'll stay in here as long as possible."

Mary Fox -Credit:Manchester Evening News
Mary Fox -Credit:Manchester Evening News

Just down the road Mary Fox, landlady of The Corner Shop, has been promoting the pub in Facebook fan groups for acts set to play the arena. And it's working.

She says they’ve been inundated with calls and emails and places in the car park are already booked up for every gig confirmed so far.

"I'm really looking forward to it," she said. "I'm not just saying this, but I think it will be really good.

"We had a few people in from Wales for Rick Astley. They got the email to say their tickets had been cancelled while they were sat in the bar. I felt dead sorry for them.

"It's going to be hard at first. The parking will be bedlam, but I can't wait for it."

Mary, who's been at The Corner Shop for 39 years, says the pub is set to undergo a major refurb into a sports bar, as the owners hope to capitalise on a potential increase in trade.

"I'm busy anyway," she said. "Matchdays are brilliant in here.

"We get lads coming here now who I saw brought in in car seats when they were babies.

"The arena is going to be crazy, but it's good for the area."

Paul Hughes -Credit:Manchester Evening News
Paul Hughes -Credit:Manchester Evening News

The Bradford Inn, in the shadow of the soon-to-be-demolished gas holders, is the closest pub to the arena. And landlord Paul Hughes is also hoping to attract a few pre-gig punters.

"We’re hoping it's going to be good for us, but we'll see," he said. "Business is not bad, but I'm hoping that we’ll start picking up some passing trade.

"We're probably the closest pub, so with the prices they’re charging hopefully they'll have a few in here rather than bite the bullet in there.

"You can get two pints in here for what they’re charging for one. It's ridiculous.

"I think they've overpriced it but they've got to claw back that £365m somehow."