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The Manchester Evening News Arena (or the MEN as it is commonly referred to), is an arena in Manchester city centre, that typically holds musical and sporting events. The arena has a capacity of 23,000 and it's one of the largest indoor arenas in Europe.
The MEN is located to the North of city centre (close to the Northern Quarter and the Printworks). If you're travelling by train then head for Victoria Station (which is attached to the arena), alternatively you could get the free city linker bus from Piccadilly station, or jump on a tram heading towards Bury, because it stops close to the MEN.
There is a lot of parking available - but if you go into one of the designated car parks then you can expect to pay a premium price (and hit traffic when you leave at the end of the night). The arena charges a whopping £9.00 for a car parking spot. There are other car parks in the vicinity - as you approach the arena you will see attendants in high visibility jackets directing you to them - but these car parks are also expensive (it will cost you around £6.00 for a spot).
As a local I resent paying for parking, but nine times out of ten I don't pay, because parking in the city centre after 6pm is free (providing you can find a designated spot), which shouldn't be too difficult if you keep your eyes peeled. Last night I parked down Corporation Street, which is about a ten minute walk from the arena and it cost me nothing! So if you do want to save a few quid then arrive early and explore the streets around the arena.
I have visited the MEN on several occasions - my most recent visit was last night when I went to see my idol Rod Stewart (who was truly amazing).
In recent years big musical acts have opted to perform at Manchester City's Eastlands Stadium, or Lancashire Cricket Club instead of gracing the arena, but last night I was reminded of the reasons why the MEN is such a good venue... Don't get me wrong, the Manchester Apollo, Academies and Band on the Wall provide a much, smaller, intimate musical experience, but when it comes to facilitating a large crowd in Manchester, the MEN does it best... the main reason why I think it's the best large venue to visit in Manchester, is quality the acoustics - when you're in an open air environment you don't get to hear the act as well as you do in the MEN and if you are going to see a performer that uses a backing band with a variety of instruments then I strongly recommend the venue - because drums, trumpets, pianos and guitars sound amazing in the arena. I also like the fact that no matter where I am sat I can see the person (or people) that are performing, and I don't have to rely on the accompanying screens.
The facilities at The MEN are good - you will find large toilet areas - so you shouldn't be queuing to spend a penny for long, however you can expect to wait a little longer just before the event starts and during the interval. If you are sat in an upper tier and you decide to go to the toilet midway through the show then you may experience a little vertigo. It will be dark and a lot of the rows seem very steep. I get scared walking down when the lights are up.
The seating seems to change depending on the act - musical stars tend to perform at one end of the arena, whereas comedians seem to take a whole side when they perform a show.
You will find merchandise stores and bars as you walk into the arena. As you'd expect, mementos from the show and refreshments don't come cheaply. You can expect to pay £1.90 for a bottle of mineral water (without the top, because that will be confiscated) and a disgusting £4.00 for a pint of Carlsberg. When you enter the arena your handbag will be checked and any drinks will be confiscated, so it's not worth taking any drinks with you. But if you do decide that you do want a drink and you don't want to spend a small fortune, then I advise you to call in at the Printworks (which is an entertainment complex located close by), either before or after the show - quite a few of the bars play songs that you can expect to hear during the event - and it's a nice way to get in the mood for a show. A lot of the bars run drinks tend to run drink offers so, hopefully, you won't spend too much!
Overall I'd say that the MEN is a good events venue, the acoustics are great and in my opinion it's one of the best large music venues in the North West. ...But a trip can get expensive, so either heed my tips to save money, or save up before you visit!
I award this venue four out of five stars.
The MEN Arena
This place rocks! If you want to visit a concert venue with plush seats and bow-tied ushers, then don't come here. If you want a concert venue where you go dressed up in your finest togs, then don't come here. But if you want a venue that, when full, echoes with the vibrations of fantastic music and excited, appreciative fans, then come to the Manchester Evening News Arena.
The MEN Arena opens up onto Victoria Station, Manchester and is within easy walking distance of Piccadilly Station. There is also a metro link tram stop at Victoria Station, linking the venue to Bury, the city centre, Altrincham and Eccles. The Arena has a massive, 900 capacity car park of its own, as well as being just decameters away from several smaller car parks. Thus the Arena is easy to access by road or rail.
Chatting to other concert goers at various events, I've realised that people travel long distances to attend events here, so the place must be doing something right with its publicity of events!
What is the MEN Arena?
Opened in 1985 as part of the unsuccessful bid by Manchester to host the 2000 summer Olympics games, the arena was purpose-built to host a wide variety of events. Inside, the building reminds me of a football pitch. It is oval in shape and, when used to full capacity, provides 360° seating for both sporting and musical events. It has an impressive maximum capacity of 23,000, which, when filled with ardent rock fans, makes the very rafters shake with the joyous vibrations of amazing music.
Every event that I have attended at this arena has been a musical one, so this must inevitable be reflected in my review. But there have been a wide variety of sporting events here as well.
There are three main entrances to the Arena, making entry and egress relatively painless procedures. Each set of doors actually has multiple doors to enable rapid entry / exit of fans.
The venue is relatively unusual because it has both an upper tier and a lower tier all the way round the arena. The upper tier seats are not, however, for those of a faint heart. I've known people to leave because of the severe vertigo experienced by those sitting at the highest levels. It is true, a mini parachute could provide a very nifty way to leave these levels quickly and easily! There is also flexible ground floor seating, which can be removed if the event requires this.
The seating varies according to the show being hosted. If it is a concert that allows standing tickets, such as the many big rock concerts that take place here, the floor seating is removed completely, allowing the many fans plenty of dancing room nearer the back, or the chance to get remarkably close to their idols. I, for one, was just a couple of metres away from the stage when Queen performed there a few years ago, sadly with just the video company of Freddie Mercury. But to be so close to Brain May was really quite an experience!
Other concerts, such as the Shania Twain concert in 2004, require a different layout, such as the central, circular stage, used to maximise the view for the many thousands of fans. Wherever you sat / stood at that concert, you received a great view of all the action on stage.
The really 'big guys' who perform there have an end stage layout, with seats behind the stage being used as well as round the arena. The use of additional tv screens at some events, such as when Eric Clapton performed, enable every action of the key performers to be seen easily by those seated further away from the stage. Personally, I take a small pair of binoculars if my seat is a long way from the stage, as can happen at popular events.
On occasion, for example when Status Quo performed there quite a long time ago, just half of the arena is utilised, the stage being pulled forward and the area behind the stage being screened off by large black curtains.
On entry, all small bags are searched and small bottles of water / food must be consumed before entry or they will be confiscated. This is quite a common policy at concerts, linked to the licence of each particular venue. But if you happen to have a handy pocket or two...! Sometimes there may be a second check before you can enter the standing area. Any bottles of water found will be politely tipped into large plastic beakers, and the bottles confiscated. I guess a bottle of water could make quite a missile so fair enough. And a bottle of something less pleasant hurtling through the air would be really nasty.
Once inside, it is possible to access a large number of bars selling the usual range of drinks, and to carry your pints of whatever to your seats for consumption. This does have an unfortunate side effect of creating sticky floors at times, as drinks left on the floor can get knocked over in the excitement of the moment. So it is advisable to take a plastic bag to place your coat / possessions in, should you intend to leave them on the floor during the concert. I must admit that inwardly I do get annoyed by the Mexican wave that results from the need that so many music fans seem to have to stock up on more drinks, with the consequent extra visits to the loo. But one has to be tolerant or irritation would take away the pleasure of the concert.
Other reviews have criticised the toilets at this arena. All I can say is that, whilst they may not be very grand, the ladies toilets are adequate for the purpose, plentiful in number, and reasonably clean, with the necessary hand-washing facilities on tap (ho, ho!)
There are also special hospitality suites at the arena, which I have not entered so cannot comment about their quality.
There are small stores that sell merchandise linked to that particular concert. The stores are open as soon as the doors open, during the concert and also during the interval. But they are closed when it is 'turning out' time.
There are facilities to enable the disabled to access events here, though it would be wise to discuss your particular mobility needs with the box-office staff before purchasing any tickets.
Being the sort of virtuous non-smoker who would cheerfully attack smoking sinners with a water pistol, nevertheless I do feel some sympathy towards smokers who attend concerts / events here. There is no 'smoking area' anywhere in the building. What is worse, for smokers, is the fact the there is no option of re-entry if someone wants to go outside the building for a quick fix. Apparently this is largely because there is no obvious safe area near the arena that people could use.
The temperature inside the arena is always difficult to predict, so I usually take an extra layer in case the seats are too near to the huge air-conditioning fans. The seats are not particularly comfortable so I will confess, much to the amusement of someone searching my bag before allowing entry to some rock concert, that I take a small camping pillow in with me. Doesn't really go with the black tee shirt and denims, I know, but needs must!
Whichever concert I have been to there, I have felt safe and have had total confidence in the supervision by "the yellow jackets". And let's admit it, the hard rock fans can be a little daunting in appearance to the sweet little old lady that I am(!?!) It was hard not to feel a little apprehensive when waiting to go into the ACDC concert in 2009, for example. But, truthfully, the well 'ard looking fans were perfectly well-behaved. Any odd skirmish would have been sorted out quickly and sensibly.
(An aside, did you know that Peter Kay once worked as a yellow jacket? Apparently, during his recent prolonged residency, he entered the arena, and walked through the audience to the stage, sporting his "yellow jacket". )
There do appear to be plenty of emergency exits, though getting out through just the regular exits at the end of a concert can take a long time. I just hope there is never a fire there, though all emergency exits are clearly marked and one hopes that audience and staff would behave in a manner appropriate for a swift but orderly exit in case of such an emergency.
Over the years I have attended a wide range of concerts at this arena. At some, attendance has been quite disappointing, leading one to think that the promoters would have been wiser to use on of the many excellent alternative venues in Manchester, such as The Apollo, the Lowry Theatre or The Bridgewater Hall. One such event that springs to mind is when Andrea Bocelli performed. What a musical treat that was! But the place was half empty! I'll admit, with a certain amount of embarrassment, to having attended a Status Quo concert there, half the hall being in use and still the place was half empty. I queued since silly o'clock in the morning for tickets for the Paul McCartney concert, finally to be within yards of the box office when the announcement was made that all tickets had been sold...Shortly followed by, 'Would you like the first tickets for an extra show?" Well, I mean, is the Pope Catholic? So I was in the fortunate position of getting far better tickets for the second show that they had agreed to lay on. And what a show that was!
This ugly building, the MENArena, has brought tremendous pleasure to the people of Manchester and surrounding towns. We have been able to see many big names at what is possibly the best venue in the NW of England. The arena is easy to access, has reasonable though basic facilities, is in a fairly safe area of the city, and is well-supervised. Tickets for popular events sell like hot cakes so it is well worthwhile getting onto the mailing list, as this enables you to receive prior notice of events and the opportunity to purchase tickets before they are available to the general public. Ticket prices are not cheap. The big names such as Tina Turner or Madonna command big prices, and still sell out immediately.
In my opinion, this place is a real asset to the North West of England, and to the world of music.
I recently spent an evening at the Manchester Evening News (M.E.N.) Arena as it was the venue for the David Haye and John Ruiz world heavyweight boxing title bout. It was the second time that I have visited Manchester Town Centre, but my first time at the arena and to be honest I was quite disappointed. To me the venue seemed quite outdated which is quite strange considering it was only built in 1995 as part of Manchester's unsuccessful summer Olympics bid in 2000, the toilets were small and there were too few of them, the food and drinks counters were very inefficient and the policy of not allowing alcohol into the stands seemed ridiculous (although I'm not sure whether this was implemented by the arena of the British boxing border control!).
Getting to the arena is easy enough as it is right next to Victoria Station, is situated on many bus routes and there is a cab rank just outside.
On arrival at the venue we were searched, but it was never explained what we were actually searched for. We then had to queue to get into the venue and our tickets were checked by door staff. Once inside we wanted to use the toilets, I was appalled to see that people were actually smoking in the toilets and placing their used cigarette butts into the urinals and sinks, disgusting! Furthermore, no staff entered the toilets at any point to prevent this from happening or to clean the mess it caused up. Next we wanted a beer. We queued for around ten minutes to get a beer, the price of which has evaded me, but I don't remember it being too unreasonable. My next gripe was with the drinking policy and the trouble it caused. As I mentioned earlier you weren't allowed to take alcoholic beverages into the main arena itself. This meant that huge numbers of people were drinking in the walkways around the outside of the arena. The area was absolutely packed. People were bumping into each other whilst trying to walk through the mass of people which were assembled and this inevitably led to spillages of drinks. This was annoying enough itself, but no staff bothered to clean it up. The floor was therefore slippery and many people ended up falling over to shouts of "she fell over," very embarrassing!
The fight itself was superb and the view from our seats was pretty good considering they only cost us £30.00. We had plenty of leg room and the seats were comfortable enough. We were seated in the upper tier. There are two tiers in total and I believe the lower seats are more expensive. The only problem that I experienced inside the arena itself was the quality of the sound system. I recently visited the O2 Arena in London and the sound system there was quite simply brilliant, in comparison to this the M.E.N. Arena was poor. The sound was muffled and it was hard to make out what the ring announcer was saying.
I understand that the M.E.N. Arena is one of the most used venues for sports and entertainment in the UK if not the world, but, to be totally honest I was left feeling disappointed. The layout and look of the place seemed very dated (similar to the old Wembley Stadium), the toilets were dirty and the staff seemed unhelpful. The arena itself wasn't actually too bad, it had a good atmosphere and the capacity was decent enough at just over 21,000 people, but I think this was more to do with the event rather than the venue. Overall, I think I'd give it a miss in the future as I think there are much better venues scattered across the country.
Thanks for reading, feel free to comment.
I went to see Paramore here last month, my first visit to the MEN arena.
I drove the 40 miles up the A34 and beyond to reach here. It was not too bad at all, using the sat nav I reached the general area and there were many many unofficial car parks as was the one I went too. I was nervous and edgy by this point because I had never been to this side of the city before so chose to pop into one where a man in a yellow vest was directing people to and it cost me £10, and was told it was 10 minutes walk away whereas it was twice that and me and my friend had to walk back at 11pm in the dark, naughty people.
I recommend allowing the sat nav to take you as close as possible to the arena, as there are so many car parks near to it, often 'unofficial', I saw some from about 4 or 5 pounds.
I do not know what the car park officially for it is, although it is next door to Victoria train station and the Arndale centre so any city centre car park will suffice.
I'd have got the train but the last one is far too early and plus we'd need to travel to Piccadilly first to get on the west coast mainline.
Upon arrival at the arena, there were a large flight of stairs that took you through a row of turnstiles upon which you entered the building.
Bag searches are conducted so no bottles of water etc.
The red doors are clearly labelled accordng to row and seat number, and there are actually several entrances and exits to the arena so remember which one you came in. It goes around in a big circle and at random intervals are toilets, small bars which sell over priced drinks and a selection of crisps.
We were extremely disappointed to find out that we could not locate a cafe etc and could only buy crisps or £4 hot dogs :/, there were popcorn stalls, candy floss stalls, then we saw several indian food stalls which had like 2 choices so we had a chicken tikka wrap for £4 which was lovely, I just wanted to sit down though in a cafe :(
Not to worry. We entered our entrance and found our row, it took a very long time to get into our seat. The seat was very comfortable but as usual if anyone wants to get past in your row there is no room and you have to stand up to make way for folks.
The place was massive, it was clear many thousands of people could be sat here, for this concert there was also a large standing area at the base of the arena, 2 seating tiers and some luxury boxes.
The arena was not as cold as I was expecting being indoors it was fine without a coat for the most part in December.
Getting out of the venue took ages naturally, although ushers were guiding people the best route that they can, it took about half an hour to get out. There was a huge sea oif people going in every direction possible so brace yourself!!
This is a great place to combine with Manchester shopping being in the city centre, if you are visiting get something to eat before you go in as the selection is ridiculously small for an arena and of course stupidly expensive, and research your route and car park well.
It loses a star for the food and drink selection and prices.
The Manchester Evening news arena located in Manchester is the city's biggest venue for live acts, sports events and more. It is known as the MEN for short and for those that have been a resident of Manchester long enough will remember it being called the NYNEX. I can't remember what the NYNEX stood for but it was when Cable and wireless used to sponsor it. The Manchester Evening news now sponsor it and originally just decided to name the place after the newspaper!!
The arena is pretty big and can hold thousands of people up to about 15,000 sometimes up to 15,500 depending on the seat layout and stage size.
The MEN can be accessed by various entrances and also directly from Victoria station which is located next door to the Arena.
The arena has various stalls inside where you can purchase drinks and snacks but as always these are not cheap - a half pint costs somewhere in the region of £3. You can also buy programmes and posters etc of whatever act is performing that night.
When going into an event it can sometimes be quite busy but the queues at the doors do move quite fast. They will normally do bag checks if they feel the event requires it.
Normally with most event here seats are set up around the sides and then also on the ground level facing directly at the stage unless of course it is a sports event like the Ice Hockey that I went to last year where they just remove all the ground seats and have the rink slap bang in the centre. The seats that are up the sides can be quite high and I wouldn't personally like to be sat up top!!
Prices for events depend on what event it is and for more information on the arena and any upcoming events you can check online at www.men-arena.com
There is lots of local transport links in the surrounding area and the arena has parking for up to 777 cars - however during events it is wise to get there early as the car park is not exclusive to people who have tickets for a show as anybody can park here.