The MEN Arena Manchester, situated in the north of the city centre, is the biggest indoor arena in Europe. Its capacity is 21,000, which puts it just in front of the O2 Arena in London’s Docklands. It is one of the world’s busiest indoor venues playing host to pop concerts, boxing ice hockey and basketball.
The venue opened in 1995, having been built to support Manchester’s unsuccessful bid for the 2000 Summer Olympics. It was eventually used in the 2002 Commonwealth Games. On its opening night it broke all records for spectators at an ice-dancing event, when over 15,000 people turned up to watch Torvill and Dean perform as part of their farewell tour. The MEN Arena Manchester has been setting records since with over 14,000 fans watching the Manchester Giants play the London Leopards and over 17,000 spectators turning out to see Manchester Storm take on the Sheffield Steelers, a European record.
The MEN Arena Manchester started life as the Nynex Arena, or often just The Nynex for short, sponsored as it was from 1995 to 1998 by Nynex CableComms. When the Nynex brand disappeared as a result of a merger with Cable & Wireless, the Manchester Evening News took over the sponsorship of the arena, using a launch campaign created by Manchester’s advertising hot-shop Cheetham Bell. The sponsorship of the arena has expired and it is now called the Manchester Arena although it will be hard to shake the MEN Arena tag.
As well as over a million visitors a year for its concerts and family shows alone, the MEN Arena Manchester has attracted some of the biggest names in the world of popular music. U2, The Police, Kylie Minogue, Simon & Garfunkel, Westlife, The Spice Girls, Pink and Rihanna have all wowed the crowds there.
The MEN Arena Manchester has had a slightly chequered history when it comes to sports. It was the former home to the Manchester Storm and Manchester Phoenix ice-hockey teams as well as basketball’s Manchester Giants. But no sports team currently uses it as a home venue. However it continues to attract world-class boxers Over the years it has hosted great bouts featuring top fighters such as Ricky Hatton, Amir Khan, Mike Tyson and Joe Calzaghe.