Manchester Arena Reopens

Site of terrorist bombing has been refurbished, after three-and-a-half-month closure

  • by Gideon Gottfried and Brad Weissberg
  • Published: September 12, 2017

The new foyer of Manchester Arena, which reopened Sept. 9. (Photo courtesy of Pollstar)

Manchester Arena is back in business after a three-and-a-half-month renovation since the terrorist attack on the venue following an Ariana Grande concert May 22.

We Are Manchester, a benefit concert headlined by Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, marked the reopening, Sept. 9.

“Renovation work is still underway in the City Room, but it is sufficiently complete to reopen part of the space as a route to the arena,” stated the arena on its website.

City Room is the name of the area where a terrorist, identified as British-born Libyan Salman Abedi, detonated a bomb, killing 22 and injuring many more.

The Tim Parry Jonathan Ball Foundation For Peace, which was formed in 1995 by Colin and Wendy Parry, following the loss of their 12-year-old son Tim and 3-year-old Johnathan Ball, in the 1993 Warrington bomb attacks, which were perpetrated by the Provisional Irish Republican Army, produced the event. Families of the victims of the attack were invited.

Nick Taylor,  chief executive of the foundation, said in a statement that “there has been huge interest in this private advance visit which has been strongly police regulated and supported by event security, the Peace Foundation and Victim Support.”

“Visiting the City Room is clearly a sensitive issue and is not appropriate for all families or survivors, however it is important that we were able to facilitate this time for people to see the space and ask any questions before it reopens,” said Taylor. “We hope that this will help to prepare future concertgoers for their return to the arena.”

Tight venue security was in place for the benefit concert. There’s a ban in place for large bags and there won’t be any storage room for bags available on site.

The City Room will be one of only two entrances to the arena besides Hunts Banks outside Victoria Station. Concertgoers were urged to arrive early as “further enhanced security checks have been put in place to provide reassurance and confidence.”

Mike Downing, EVP, Prevent Advisors, said the redesign was just the first step. “Flows, ingress, egress and queuing are things they should have considered in the new designs,” he said. “Minimal loitering inside and outside the venue is what you want to design for.”

Verifying the gaps and vulnerabilities is vital to any redesign, said Downing. “I’d hate to think we have to put bomb-resistant material into all the designs because of the shrapnel and the glass, but it really depends on how much of that there is in the design.”

He also suggested that using smart technology “that connects everything including social media threats” is important.

“What really needs to be done is a thorough look at the security protocols and procedures they had in place and refresh them,” he said. “I’d look at what needs to be altered and look at the points of threats we are dealing with today; look at the technology and software that can shore up some of the vulnerabilities and the gaps to make sure the security is as intense throughout an event as it was in the beginning of the event.”

Partnerships with local, state and federal agencies should also have been addressed before reopening.

“Coordination with law enforcement is as much a part of any new plan as the design is,” he said. “Design is a big factor in mitigating opportunists, but we should still be on the prevention side of this problem with good intelligence, good deployment, good security, good technology and prevent it before it happens.”

“If it happens, we have a bit of a failure,” he added. “As this threat continues to evolve, we need to continue to be prepared for it.”

 

 

  • by Gideon Gottfried and Brad Weissberg
  • Published: September 12, 2017