Manchester Arena has been renamed as ambitious plans to redevelop the site take another step forward.
The venue has been rebranded the AO Arena after the Bolton-based online electricals retailer signed a five year deal as its new headline sponsor.
It is the first time a sponsor has had naming rights to the venue since 2014.
It comes after ASM Global, which operates the venue, submitted a planning application for the first phase of an ambitious redevelopment.
Plans unveiled earlier this year show new links between the arena and Victoria Station, space for fans boosted from 21,000 to 24,000 and a canopy design inspired by the Manchester worker bee.
With a ‘dramatic increase’ in standing room, designers say the venue would become the ‘biggest indoor arena in Europe’.
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Live events are set to resume once current Covid-19 related restrictions on venues are lifted.
The venue says that new show announcements and ticket sales are ‘imminent’.
AO Founder and CEO, John Roberts said: “The Arena holds a special place in the hearts of so many people in Manchester so we’re hugely proud to add the AO smile, especially after such an emotional and difficult period.
“Our home is firmly in the North West, something we’ve never forgotten while building the business into a global destination for electricals.
“We hope today’s redevelopment plans for the AO Arena which, combined with soon-to-be-announced good news about the events coming in 2021, will create hope and excitement about the future of entertainment in our great city.
“Through this sponsorship, we can deliver our famous AO smile to millions of visitors every year and we can’t wait to welcome them to the AO Arena.
“Thousands of our customers will also be able to enjoy amazing events with tickets, exclusive access and money-can’t-buy experiences.”
James Allen, the general manager of the AO Arena added: “We are thrilled to have secured this partnership and we look forward to a dynamic relationship with this exciting brand.
“Marking our 25th anniversary with redevelopment plans and our new partnership with AO highlights our commitment to the future of this venue in the heart of Manchester.
“And after such a long period of pause, we look forward to being able to press play and welcome fans back to the AO Arena.”
ASM Global has submitted a planning application to Manchester City Council for a major transformation of the arena.
Artwork unveiled in March shows new concourses and levels within the building, a floor dedicated to VIP boxes and lounges and a grass-covered roof.
Restaurants and bars would feature on the ‘event floor’, while there would be space dedicated to selling merchandise.
There are also plans for a memorial to those who lost their lives in the May 2017 terrorist atrocity.
Bosses say they aim to ‘deliver a transformed visitor experience’ and improve the sustainability of the existing venue to become one of the lowest carbon venues in Europe.
They say 94 per cent of those who were asked to provide feedback as part of consultation on the plans voted positively.