Manchester Arena

Manchester17,000 seats

Project Background

When Manchester Arena’s operators decided to replace their hard-working seating, installed by Audience Systems some twenty years ago, it was Audience Systems once again who provided the winning solution.

Customer Requirements

The replacement of the seating formed part of an extensive refurbishment programme, which had to be organised around events and the cleaning of 20 years of grime from the concrete tiering. Tight adherence to the project schedule was critical.  

SMG were keen that the new seating should enjoy the same longevity as the previous installation, but also that it should be of the same standard as the seats at nearby venues in Sheffield, Liverpool and Leeds – all supplied by Audience Systems.

The retractable systems needed to be a perfect fit to the arena, as well as offering smooth operation and outstanding reliability.

Phase One

In an astonishing 44 days, the arena was cleared, cleaned and refitted with 28 new retractable systems and 11,600 new Accolade chairs. A new design for the retractable seating increased capacity by an impressive 345.

The chairs were fitted with both a back and seat panel to protect the upholstery and increase their durability, and were upholstered in a Gore-tex based “Halcyon” fabric by Camira which offers superb stain and tear resistance and ease of cleaning.

Phase Two

In the second phase of the overhaul, retractable platforms complete with 5,551 20-year-old Espace 628 chairs were given a facelift.  The platforms are used only when the arena is in the round, and are still in perfect working order.  Due to their reduced usage, SMG decided to simply update the chairs’ seats and backs and refurbish the retractable platforms.

Customer Comment

“We’ve had a great history with Audience Systems; not only have we used them here in Manchester, but also in Leeds. In a previous life at Docklands Arena, I also used them, so I have a trust in the company."

"When they came to speak to us about replacing our seats, they also offered me the ability to add an extra 345 seats. If you multiply that by 120 shows a year, that gives us 40,000 additional seats to sell each year."

Between our knowledge of what we wanted and how the previous system worked, and our project manager Andrew Powell’s knowledge and guidance, we have the safest most modern system we could ask for.”

James Allen, General Manager, Manchester Arena.