In October 2020, the Blakeney team led another huge announcement for Oak View Group, as it was revealed multi-award winning and multi-million selling global artist and musician Harry Styles has made his first big move into the business world with an investment in Co-op Live.

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Just one month before, Blakeney helped international venue developer OVG to announce that its proposals for a new £350million arena in Manchester had been given the green light and that the arena would be called Co-op Live following a 15-year agreement with the Co-operative Group.

The announcement received extensive coverage across major print and broadcast media, including an exclusive interview in the Financial Times, features in The Sun, Daily Mirror, Mail Online and Daily Mail, Sky News, Manchester Evening News, Evening Standard, and over 150 regional outlets. The story was also widely covered in the entertainment and business press in outlets as diverse as Billboard, Rolling Stone, British Vogue, and the International Business Times, and on BBC Radio 1 and over twenty regional BBC channels, Times Radio, Capital, Hits, Heart.

Harry Styles continues to enjoy monumental success with his music career following the release of his 2019 album Fine Line. Harry’s investment in the arena at the peak of his artistic career is a huge coup for OVG, and his investment in Co-op Live also closes a particular loop for Harry, whose first job was delivering newspapers for a Co-op store as a teenager.

Harry Styles will work alongside OVG’s UK and international team, led by global live entertainment industry leader Tim Leiweke, on delivering world-leading experiences at Co-op Live, with a particular focus on fans, unique premium and hospitality areas and artist spaces.

Co-op Live will be purpose-built for music, with an interior bowl that elevates both the artist and fan experience. It’s also the first arena to be built with an equal focus on artists and fans by offering the best experiences and sound.

Harry Styles said: “I’m incredibly proud and excited to be partnering with OVG on their plans for Co-op Live. Manchester is an incredible city, filled with incredible people, and I couldn’t be happier being involved in this project. It very much feels like coming home.

I was drawn to this project on every level, from the opportunities it brings, to the contribution it will make to the city, and most importantly, that it will allow even more live music to thrive in Manchester. It's just another sign that this amazing city continues to grow.”

Francesca Bodie, OVG’s President of Business Development, said: “At OVG our vision is driven by a unique view that puts fans and artists first in every decision we make. There’s no artist in the world right now better placed than Harry to advise us on delivering a first-class experience for visitors and artists at Co-op Live.”

“We’re focused on building one of the world’s best arenas in Manchester and Harry’s advice and consultation is going to be invaluable as we work to deliver that.”

Co-op Live represents a £350m private investment in Manchester and will generate 3,500 jobs during construction, providing a much-needed boost to the city’s economy. It will support a further 1,000 jobs during operation and bring more events to the city. The arena will be located on the Etihad Campus and has been designed as the most sustainable arena in Europe. The partnership with Co-op will see the venue generate at least £1m annually for good causes both locally in Manchester and across the UK.