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New-look Manchester Arena unveiled

In 1995, Manchester Arena chose Audience Systems and Camira Fabrics to supply the seating for its new arena and some twenty years later this original duo were once again chosen to re-seat the venue.

James Allen, General Manager of Manchester Arena, enthused:

Thank you for backing this project with commitment, enthusiasm and teamwork. We are very pleased with the results and we couldn’t have done it without your help.

This busy venue has demanded two decades of hard work from its seating. The arena’s operators, SMG, realised the arena needed some ‘TLC’ to maintain its position as one of the country’s top venues, continuing to attract the largest audiences and the biggest performers.

Organising the refurbishment around events, SMG was keen that the new seating should enjoy the same longevity as the previous installation, specifying a seat with maximum durability. The retractable systems needed to be a perfect fit to the arena, with smooth operation ensuring they don’t suffer damage through use. It’s imperative the fabric continues to look immaculate even with the most demanding of audiences.

In an astonishing 44 days, the Arena was cleared, cleaned and refitted with 28 new retractable systems and 11,600 new Accolade chairs.  The chairs benefit from back and seat panels for upholstery protection. SMG worked in close collaboration with Camira Fabrics, selecting a performance-based product, Halcyon Linden, which offers stain resistance and anti-microbial properties, as well as being straightforward to clean, helping to create the very best user experience even with short turnaround times between shows.

Abdul Ali, Head of UK Sales at Camira Fabrics, commented:

Manchester Arena has been a great project for us and we are delighted SMG specified Camira as the fabric provider again after 20 years.

Within the short time frame, Camira provided 10,000 metres of our Halcyon Linden range, which we dyed to a bespoke dark grey, a more forgiving colour than black, to cover the new seats from Audience Systems. The Halcyon Collection is engineered for arena seating such as this, which requires extra protection and durability.

Audience Systems Sales Director, Gary Pillinger, has been thrilled with the result at the Arena, as he explained:

This has been a really complex job, but one with amazing results. Almost 12,000 seats on a mixture of fixed tiering and 28 retractable units, as well as the arena’s requirements for additional seating and the need for slick transitions between set ups to minimise site team’s time, have made it an exciting project.

The team at Manchester have been a pleasure to work with from start to finish and we are always thrilled to be given a challenge; it’s an opportunity to show the industry what we can do.

In a second phase of the overhaul, 5,551 original Espace 628 chairs, installed 20 years ago will be given a facelift. The chairs sit behind the stage, are used only when the arena is in the round, and are still in perfect working order. Due to their reduced usage, SMG decided to simply refurbish those seats in the same fabric as the rest of the new seats, and add back and seat panels so they will blend seamlessly with the new chairs.  Due for completion next month, this will be the final flourish, giving Manchester Arena another double decade as one of the UK’s premier venues.

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