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The MEN (The Magical, yet Expensive Night).
Evening News Arena
Member Name: Clurbur85
Evening News Arena
Advantages: Great acoustics, nice venue, centrally located.
Disadvantages: Parking, drinks and merchandise is expensive.
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.
Summary: A great venue.
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