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Abu Dhabi owners reveal $361m Manchester City stadium upgrade

Manchester City's Etihad Stadium can currently hold 53,400 people Reuters/Jason Cairnduff
Manchester City's Etihad Stadium can currently hold 53,400 people
  • Football club wants to boost capacity to 60,000
  • Plans include hotel, fan zone and co-working space  
  • Public invited to submit feedback

Manchester City FC, majority-owned by Abu Dhabi United Group, this week accelerated plans to expand its stadium in the north west of England by launching a formal consultation on the $361 million project. 

As well as increasing the size of the North Stand by 7,700 people to create a new capacity of 60,000 at the Etihad Stadium, the football club proposes to redevelop other parts of its Manchester site.

It intends to add a hotel, a fan zone that can hold 3,000 supporters, and a 4,000 square metre co-working space for startups and other businesses. 

The plans also include a new club shop, museum and a variety of new and upgraded food and drink outlets as part of its aim to create a “year-round entertainment and leisure destination at the Etihad Stadium”. 

The club unveiled the proposals last year when it started work to assess the project’s financial feasibility.

Further details were published this week together with the first images depicting what the revamp would look like if it goes ahead.

Members of the public have been invited to submit feedback on the plans, with a deadline of March 26.

Under UK planning law, real estate developers are required to formally consult with the public – as well as with government and other stakeholders – to ensure their proposals are well received. They can then submit an official planning application to the local authority.

Manchester City was granted a basic planning permission to expand its North Stand in 2015, when its South Stand was expanded to increase the stadium’s capacity to 53,400. But the finer details still require consent. 

Subject to receiving planning permission, construction will start towards the end of this year and be completed in August 2025, in time for the 2025-2026 season. The hotel will be completed the following year, the club said. 

Manchester City is owned by City Football Group, a UK-registered holding company whose majority stake is owned by Abu Dhabi United Group, an investment company for the Abu Dhabi royal family owned by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan. 

The group purchased the club for £200 million in 2018 from former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

The Etihad Stadium is located in east Manchester, an area of the city that has historically suffered from deprivation and low levels of public and private investment.

Since 2008 City Football Group has overseen £700 million of investment into the area, centred on the 80-acre Etihad Campus in Manchester’s SportCity district, and its immediate surroundings known as Eastlands.  

The city of Manchester has plans to further regenerate the wider Eastlands area over the coming years, and City Football Group and other Abu Dhabi investment vehicles are expected to play a significant role in this as well as other projects at the Etihad Campus. 

One such project is the Co-op Live arena, a 23,500-capacity live music and entertainment venue, currently under construction by a joint venture between City Football Group and Los Angeles-based developer Oak View Group. 

The venue is scheduled to open in December, introducing fresh competition into Manchester’s entertainment industry, given the city’s existing AO Arena (previously known as the Manchester Arena). 

Co-op Live has said it plans to host 120 events in its first year, of which the majority will be music focused. It will also have bars, restaurants, lounges and club spaces. 

The stadium announcement comes at a time when Manchester City FC is under investigation by an independent commission after the Premier League charged the club last month with alleged breaches of league financial rules.

Manchester City has said it is “surprised by the issuing of these alleged breaches” and “welcomes the review of this matter”. 

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