Man Behind UK's Largest Indoor Arena Says Hammersmith is Next

Talks underway for a similar venue to the Co-op Live in Manchester

Tim Leiweke hinted that west London venue could be the world's largest
Tim Leiweke hinted that west London venue could be the world's largest

April 22, 2024

Ahead of the opening of the UK’s largest indoor arena this Tuesday (23 April), the man behind it has revealed that talks are underway for a similar venue in Hammersmith which he hinted would be the biggest in the world.

American businessman Tim Leiweke runs Oak View Group (OVG) which is set to launch the 23,500-capacity Co-op Live in Manchester with a show by comedian Peter Kay.

The £365 million centre could be outdone by a new venue in west London according to Mr Leiweke. When asked where it might be during an interview with the Sunday Telegraph he said, “If you guessed Hammersmith, it would be a good guess.”

He continued, “We’re pretty focused on a particular site. We’re excited about the site. But I understand there’s a process and we need to talk to neighbours, we need to talk to the community, we need to talk to the business leaders and to political leaders. We’re going to play by their rules, I’m not going to get ahead of them.

“No disrespect to New York or Los Angeles, but London is the best market in the world, especially for live entertainment. London deserves to have the greatest arena in the world. They don’t yet.”

He added that it will be a year or so before the scheme ‘gets real’ but initial discussions with the authorities have been positive.

Mr Leiweke was the former CEO of Anschutz Entertainment Group which owns arenas and stadia worldwide including the Eventim Apollo in Hammersmith and the O2 in London. He has been credited with transforming the Millenium Dome into the O2 while he was at AEG. He formed OVG in 2015 and opened the Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle, claiming it to be the world’s first carbon neutral arena.

Until November last year, his former company AEG part-owned the Manchester Arena which claimed to be Europe’s largest before the opening of the Co-op Live venue just two miles away.

No indication has been given as to where the ‘Hammersmith’ venue might be, but industry insiders believe that Mr Leiweke used the town’s name as a shot across the bows of his former employers and, as in Manchester, he will be looking at setting up a rival venue nearby. He described AEG as getting ‘comfortable’ and told the Telegraph this wasn’t something of which he wouldn’t hesitate to take advantage.

Possible locations are the Earls Court Development or the new Stamford Bridge Stadium which has recently seen progress with the acquisition earlier this month of the neighbouring Stoll Mansions site. Mr Leiweke worked on a partnership with Chelsea FC to promote Major League Soccer when he was at AEG. In addition, the Co-op Live venue is next door to Manchester City’s Etihad stadium and the new arena was built in partnership with City Football Group, the Abu Dhabi-backed owner of the Premier League champions suggesting the possibility that the London arena would follow this pattern.

Redevelopment of the Olympia Exhibition Centre is due to be finished in 2025. Picture: Olympia

He has said that the intention with Co-op Live is that it will become a multi-purpose venue for sports, eating out and other forms of entertainment adding, “We were fortunate that the bet we made – that we’d see the single greatest live entertainment return and surge in the history of the industry – is what we’ve seen these past few years”.

OVG has been approached for comment.

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