AO Arena, Manchester: A Journey Through History

The AO Arena, formerly known as the Manchester Arena, holds a special place in the hearts of music lovers and sports enthusiasts alike. Located in the heart of Manchester, England, this iconic venue has witnessed some of the most memorable events in entertainment history. Let us embark on a journey through time and explore the rich history of the AO Arena.

Inception and Early Years:

The AO Arena, initially known as the NYNEX Arena, opened its doors to the public on July 15, 1995. Designed by DLA Architecture, this state-of-the-art venue was constructed to fill the gap for a large indoor arena in Manchester, capable of hosting major events. With a seating capacity of around 21,000, it quickly became a popular choice for concerts, sports events, and exhibitions.

The Rise to Prominence:

In 1998, the arena underwent a significant rebranding when NYNEX was acquired by telecommunications giant NTL. The venue was renamed the NTL Arena, reflecting its evolving identity and growing popularity. It continued to attract renowned artists from around the world, hosting legendary performances by the likes of Oasis, Madonna, U2, and many more.

A Tragic Incident:

The arena faced a dark day on May 22, 2017, when a terrorist attack during an Ariana Grande concert claimed the lives of 22 innocent people and injured many others. The incident shook the entire city of Manchester and sent shockwaves throughout the world. The response from the people of Manchester was one of resilience and unity, as they stood together to support those affected and rebuild the spirit of their beloved city.

Renaming and Rebirth:

In 2018, the arena underwent another transformation when it was renamed the Manchester Arena. The city, determined to move forward and honour the victims, embraced the new name as a symbol of unity and solidarity. The arena reopened its doors with a powerful benefit concert called “We Are Manchester,” featuring performances from local artists, paying tribute to the victims and demonstrating the city’s resilience.

AO Arena: A New Era:

In March 2021, the arena entered into a naming rights partnership with, a leading online retailer. As a result, the venue adopted its current name, AO Arena. The partnership signifies’s commitment to Manchester and its vibrant cultural scene, as well as its desire to support the local community.

The Future:

As we look ahead, the AO Arena continues to evolve, aiming to provide world-class experiences for its visitors. The venue is constantly upgrading its facilities to enhance visitor comfort and improve the overall experience. With its central location and rich history, the arena remains a key hub for cultural and sporting events, attracting global talent and audiences from near and far.


The AO Arena, formerly known as the Manchester Arena, stands as a symbol of Manchester’s spirit and resilience. From its inception as the NYNEX Arena to its current name, the venue has hosted countless iconic performances and sporting events, leaving an indelible mark on the city’s cultural landscape. As Manchester continues to grow and flourish, the AO Arena will undoubtedly play a vital role in shaping the city’s future as a thriving entertainment hub.

Image by Rudy and Peter Skitterians from Pixabay

Steve Screeton

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