Manchester’s AO Arena completes £50m transformation with a promise to elevate every person’s gig experience

A brand new bar and restaurant, larger standing space, and loads more to look forward to.

Daisy Jackson Daisy Jackson - 24th January 2024

The AO Arena welcomed Andy Burnham and Blossoms today to celebrate the completion of its £50m redevelopment.

As the biggest indoor venue in the UK and one of the busiest in the world, the AO Arena is now working to even further elevate the guest experience, from start to finish.

Its huge investment has seen new features added like an increased standing floor capacity in the arena bowl itself, a brand new lower concourse bar area with capacity for 6,000 (plus new bars in the main concourse), and new entrances to make getting in and out of the arena the quickest in Europe.

Then there is the crowning jewel at the AO Arena, its new bar and restaurant The Mezz, set to open in March, which will welcome a new partnership with chefs Simon Rogan MBE and Tom Barnes of soon-to-open Skof.

To mark its monumental redevelopment, the AO Arena invited Stockport legends Blossoms to place their hands in cement on the concourse, leaving their mark permanently on the city’s most iconic venue.


Blossoms said: “When the AO Arena opened again after Covid, we were the first band to play a gig here. We’re excited to celebrate the official topping out of the redevelopments and look forward to seeing what the future AO Arena has to offer.”

The Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham was also in attendance to celebrate the landmark moment, speaking of all the shows he’s seen over the years (Taylor Swift, Katy Perry and Elbow all highlights, apparently).


The improvements to the venue aren’t just on a fan level either – work has also included a complete back of house overhaul including an artist green room, dressing rooms and crew facilities.

AO has also announced it is extending its naming rights partnership of the 21,000 capacity, 30-year-old venue all the way into 2030.

The AO Arena’s £50m transformation includes a new VIP entrance, a members only bar and restaurant, a brand new lower concourse, an improved focus on customer safety measures, and full wall wraps highlighting the venue’s iconic milestones.


On the concourse, there’ll be a brand new food and drink offering, including handcrafted burgers, salt and pepper chicken and accompanying vegan options including smash meat-free burgers with vegan smoked applewood and vegan loaded fries, as well as vegan bratwurst with sauerkraut in a vegan brioche bun topped with crispy onions and served with vegan chilli cheese sauce.

Over the years, the AO Arena has welcomed the biggest names in music and sport, such as Prince, Elton John, New Order, The Rolling Stones, Madonna, Billie Eilish, Oasis, Dua Lipa and The Courteeners, plus of course Peter Kay’s record-breaking 50+ date residency (which is still ongoing, by the way…), and has also played host to The Commonwealth Games, The Davis Cup, boxing bouts with Mike Tyson, Anthony Joshua, Ricky Hatton and much more.

Visited by more than one million people each year, the AO Arena is promising this will be its best year yet, raising tens of thousands of pounds and giving hundreds of hours to local community projects.

And coming up this year alone there’ll be more Peter Kay Live, The 1975, Bill Bailey, Niall Horan, Ne-Yo, and plenty more to be announced.

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Featured image: supplied