Co-op Live criticized for allowing 23,000 fans into packed venue despite Nicki Minaj’s custody, leaving music fans out of pocket after postponed gig

Co-op Live criticized for allowing 23,000 fans into packed venue despite Nicki Minaj’s custody, leaving music fans out of pocket after postponed gig

Nicki Minaj fans have hit out at Co-op Live after they were let into the packed out arena thinking her show was going ahead while the singer was still in custody after being arrested.

The 41-year-old had live-streamed herself being detained at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam on suspicion of drugs offences on Saturday afternoon, just hours before she was due to perform in Manchester. 

Despite the publicity around her arrest, more than 23,000 ticketholders were allowed to go into the venue and take their seats, where they waited before being told the gig was being shelved.

Video taken inside the arena showed fans booing and shouting after the announcement while organisers said they were ‘deeply disappointed by the inconvenience this has caused’.

Minaj’s supporters, who go by the collective name Barbz, have voiced slammed bosses at the ‘cursed’ music venue for letting them go inside and spend money despite the show going ahead.

Co-op Live criticized for allowing 23,000 fans into packed venue despite Nicki Minaj’s custody, leaving music fans out of pocket after postponed gig

Nicki Minaj was seen arriving into Manchester late on Saturday night after being arrested in Amsterdam 

Nicki Minaj fans leave Co-op Live arena in Manchester in Saturday night after her concert is postponed

Nicki Minaj fans leave Co-op Live arena in Manchester in Saturday night after her concert is postponed

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Co-op Live announced Nicki Minaj's concert was being postponed hours after people were let into the venue in Manchester, sparking a backlash from fans

Co-op Live announced Nicki Minaj’s concert was being postponed hours after people were let into the venue in Manchester, sparking a backlash from fans

But representatives for the beleaguered £365million arena, which belatedly opened this month after being plagued by setbacks, said they allowed people to enter to ‘ensure the safety and welfare of fans while awaiting updates’.

Minaj had live-streamed her arrest in the Netherlands at around 4pm after police detained her on suspicion of exporting soft drugs as she prepared to fly to Britain after ‘weed’ was allegedly found in her luggage. The singer denied it belonged to her and claimed the items were the property of her security team. 

An hour and a half later Co-op Live tweeted that doors for her Manchester show would open at 7pm and fans entered, despite the R&B star not being released from custody until around 8.55pm. 

She was later seen arriving at Manchester late on Saturday night after devastated fans were sent home.

One fan told MailOnline that she was ‘absolutely heartbroken’ at Saturday’s concert being called off. ‘It’s not exactly like the tickets were cheap,’ said Alesha. ‘We spent an absolute fortune to be there tonight, let alone the travel and outfits we got for it.’

‘Absolute shambles that the Co-op live didn’t just let us let us know beforehand that the show was going to be postponed,’ she added, a sentiment shared by many other ticketholders.

One supporter wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter: ‘Co-op Live you are a f****** joke. You knew hours ago that the show wouldn’t go ahead yet you still allowed everyone to come and spend money at your venue to then cancel last minute. Absolute joke. Love Nicki, f*** Co-op Live!!!’

Comedian Mark Grimshaw said: ‘I’m not sure what’s crazier – the fact Co-op Live let ticket-holders into the venue whilst Nicki Minaj had literally been arrested in a different country, or the fact that this somehow isn’t the most incompetent thing Co-op Live have ever done.’

He added: ‘The actual arrest, and the reason behind it, is obviously down to Nicki Minaj and her team. They aren’t responsible for Co-op Live opening the venue hours after that happened, when she was still detained, and the gig clearly wasn’t going to be going ahead. Both are at fault.’

Disappointed fans are seen leaving the arena after being told that tonight's show was called off

Disappointed fans are seen leaving the arena after being told that tonight’s show was called off

Hundreds of fans queueing outside Manchester's Co-op Live arena ahead of the scheduled show were filmed this evening chanting 'Free Nicki Minaj'

Hundreds of fans queueing outside Manchester’s Co-op Live arena ahead of the scheduled show were filmed this evening chanting ‘Free Nicki Minaj’

Fans leave the Manchester Co-op Live venue after the Nicki Minaj show was postponed

Fans leave the Manchester Co-op Live venue after the Nicki Minaj show was postponed

Kian Young, 23, who had travelled from Scunthorpe, said that he was ‘confused as to why the Co-op arena hasn’t spoken to its fans’ and asked why the venue hadn’t cancelled the event when news emerged of Minaj’s arrest.

‘Everyone’s come – my missus is crying,’ he told the BBC. ‘Why not tell us it’s cancelled before bringing us in?’

But others blamed the singer for the chaos. Olivia Gibson from Newcastle said she was now an ‘ex fan’ of Minaj.

‘I feel appalled. But also, in a way, I’m not shocked,’ the 21-year-old said, referring to the singer’s track record of running late and saying she should have allowed more time to get to Manchester from Amsterdam.

‘It’s not the Co-op Live’s fault. It’s Nicki Minaj’s fault,’ she added. ‘She’s just let all her fans down.’

A spokesperson for Co-op Live told MailOnline today: ‘To ensure the safety and welfare of fans while awaiting updates, the joint decision was made by venue and promoter to open our doors. 

‘Despite Nicki’s best efforts to explore every possible avenue to make the show happen, the events of yesterday made it impossible.’

The American singer, known for the songs Starships, Super Bass and Anaconda, had been due to take to the stage at 6.30pm, but this was initially pushed back to 7pm.

Footage emerged of supporters queuing up in the hours before the scheduled gig, chanting ‘Free Nicki Minaj’ as they held onto hope that the star would be allowed to fly to perform at the Manchester arena.

Fans in the packed venue were devastated when they were informed that the show would not be going ahead, with many slamming the decision.

A private plane, believed to belong to Nicki Minaj, departs from Schiphol East airport after the rapper was released by police

A private plane, believed to belong to Nicki Minaj, departs from Schiphol East airport after the rapper was released by police

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Despite vehemently denying that she was carrying any drugs, the 41-year-old rapper was told that she needed to go to the police station in footage captured during an Instagram Live

Despite vehemently denying that she was carrying any drugs, the 41-year-old rapper was told that she needed to go to the police station in footage captured during an Instagram Live

Before the alleged arrest, Minaj shared a series of posts on X (previously known as Twitter ), about her bags getting pulled for a thorough search at the airport

Before the alleged arrest, Minaj shared a series of posts on X (previously known as Twitter ), about her bags getting pulled for a thorough search at the airport

'They¿ve been trying everything they possibly can to TRY to stop this tour,' she wrote in one tweet, before theorizing that they were trying to 'plant things' in her luggage

‘They’ve been trying everything they possibly can to TRY to stop this tour,’ she wrote in one tweet, before theorizing that they were trying to ‘plant things’ in her luggage

Minaj tweeted that her 'filming every single thing made' airline employees and police 'mad'

Minaj tweeted that her ‘filming every single thing made’ airline employees and police ‘mad’

In the wake of the latest drama to impact the venue, many concertgoers have also defended Co-op Live.

One wrote on X that Minaj’s lateness was ‘genuinely not their fault’, adding that organisers ‘cannot catch a break’.

Another suggested that it would have been worse not to let fans into the arena. ‘Why is everyone blaming co-op live? They let everyone in when the doors opened they could have left everyone outside, saying, ‘we’re not letting anyone in yet..”

And one said that the blame should be shared by organisers and Minaj. ‘Co-op Live can take accountability for letting people in before confirming she was in the country.

‘But Nicki Minaj, I love u but you shoulda travelled yesterday, not 3 hours before doors open,’ the fan added.

Many have said they are unsure if they would be able to make the rescheduled performance, dates for which have not been announced yet.

Frankie Harper, 20, from Andover, Hampshire, said: ‘(I’m) distraught to say the least. It definitely hurts more that it was on my birthday. Not sure what happens with the £100s that you spend on a train and hotel.’

Nord Herida, 23, who lives in Barnsley and travelled an hour to attend the concert, said he had felt before the postponement that his time was ‘being wasted’ inside the arena.

Members of Minaj's fanbase, known as the 'Barbz', wore her trademark pink to the concert

Members of Minaj’s fanbase, known as the ‘Barbz’, wore her trademark pink to the concert

Manchester's Co-Op Live Arena has been plagued by issues from its testing to eventual opening earlier this month

Manchester’s Co-Op Live Arena has been plagued by issues from its testing to eventual opening earlier this month

Nicki Minaj was seen for the first time since her drug arrest in Amsterdam as she arrived to the United Kingdom on Saturday night

Nicki Minaj was seen for the first time since her drug arrest in Amsterdam as she arrived to the United Kingdom on Saturday night

Nicki Minaj filmed herself seemingly getting arrested for allegedly 'carrying drugs' while traveling from Amsterdam to Manchester for her next show

Nicki Minaj filmed herself seemingly getting arrested for allegedly ‘carrying drugs’ while traveling from Amsterdam to Manchester for her next show

He added that his friend had travelled four hours from Ipswich to get to the gig and that they had been waiting since 1pm at the arena.

‘(I’m) p***** not (going to) lie, they have taken this long to tell us,’ Mr Herida said.

Latest in a string of issues for Co-op Live

Manchester’s Co-Op Live Arena has been plagued by issues from its testing to eventual opening earlier this month.

Here is a timeline of what has happened:

April 20

Headaches for Co-op Arena emerged after capacity for a test event was reduced with just hours’ notice.

Rick Astley did perform at the arena, however, and there were reports on social media that the event was a success.

April 22

Yet more issues came when comedian Peter Kay’s performances were postponed with less than 48 hours’ notice.

His original dates were shifted to April 29 and 30, with Kay writing on social media that he was ‘truly gutted’ for his fans.

A spokesman for the arena said that ‘consistent total power supply to our fully electric sustainable venue’ was two days behind and there needed to be more time to test it ‘thoroughly’.

April 25

Following a slew of issues, general manager Gary Roden resigned.

April 26

Peter Kay and The Black Keys both had to reschedule dates because of the venue not being ‘ready’.

Kay’s gigs were moved to May 23 and May 24, and he said it was ‘very disappointing but your safety is important, and I won’t compromise that’ on X, formerly Twitter.

The new date for the US rock band The Black Keys became May 15.

In a statement, Co-op Live also said that there is ‘reassurance’ for fans that dates for US rapper A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie, real name Julius Dubose, on May 1, and American singer Olivia Rodrigo’s performances on May 3 and 4 would be going ahead.

May 1

Both A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie and Olivia Rodrigo dates are postponed.

This was just over an hour before A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie was set to perform, with the venue saying that there was a problem during the soundcheck.

A component of the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system used to direct air had separated from the ductwork, and the installer, contractor and third-party inspector would now have to test each nozzle to confirm they are free from the defect, the Oak View Group said.

Two hours after cancelling A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie, the venue then said that Rodrigo’s gigs would not go ahead on May 3 and 4.

May 2

Take That said they would be moving their May shows from the Co-op Live to the AO Arena because of ‘ongoing technical issues’.

Earlier that day another band, Keane, announced their May 5 gig at the venue had been postponed thanks to issues that were ‘entirely beyond our control’.

The venue said it would be taking ‘a short pause to events at Co-op Live to fully ensure the safety and security of fans and artists visiting the venue’.

May 14

Live music finally got under way at the Co-op Live arena after Manchester band Elbow opened the new venue as its first headliners.

May 25

Nicki Minaj is arrested in the Netherlands hours before she is due to fly to the UK to perform at the Co-op Live Arena.

Dutch police said at around 9pm that they released their ‘suspect and she can now move on’, but Live Nation announced soon after that the show, originally set to have doors open at 6.30pm, had been postponed.

‘Like I work, I can’t just take a day off.’

Super fan Connor Wynne told Sky that he had been queueing since before 8am this morning to get a front row position for the show.

He said he and his friends were holding out hope of seeing the star after they ‘heard a helicopter go over’.

But soon after, fans’ hopes of seeing their favourite singer were dashed when organisers announced the show was being postponed.

‘Nicki Minaj’s scheduled performance at Manchester’s Co-op Live on Saturday 25th May has been postponed,’ a statement online said.

‘Tickets will remain valid for the rescheduled performance which will be announced ASAP.

‘Despite Nicki’s best efforts to explore every possible avenue to make tonight’s show happen, the events of today have made it impossible.’

It added: ‘We are deeply disappointed by the inconvenience this has caused. More information will be available at your point of purchase.’

Minaj went silent on social media at around 4pm this evening following a series of social media posts on X, formerly Twitter, and Instagram.

In them, she said that police had told her they found drugs in her luggage after items were checked by customs.

She wrote that ‘they found weed’ and her security ‘already advised them’ that items belong to them, and not her.

Minaj also claimed that her bags had been taken by ‘customs’, with someone who looked like he worked for Schiphol Airport saying that the fact she filmed security checks prompted her luggage to be searched again, in a video shared on Instagram.

She alleged: ‘They’ve been trying to stop me from coming to every show. They took my bags before I could see them. Put it on the plane. Now saying they’re waiting on customs.’

Minaj also live-streamed what appeared to be a conversation with an officer, who asked her to get into a van so she could go to a police station.

‘I’m not carrying drugs, I’m not going in there,’ she says in the clip.

She then asks the officer if she is ‘under arrest’ to which the the Dutch policeman replies ‘yes’.

The star is told by another policeman that she will get a ‘lawyer’ and to stop filming, and then gets inside the van.

A statement from Amsterdam’s Royal Military Constabulary read: ‘We have just released a 41-year-old American woman who we arrested this afternoon at Schiphol on suspicion of exporting soft drugs.

‘After consultation with the Public Prosecution Service, the suspect was fined and can continue her journey.’

Speaking to Sky News at around 9.15pm, Major Robert van Kapel of the military police said that she had been released from their custody around 20 minutes earlier.

He added that he believed she had set off on her onward journey, though would not disclose further details.

It was unclear at this point whether she would make the show, and there were few updates given throughout the saga.

It comes after the venue postponed its first official show several times after safety concerns.

The opening concert by rapper A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie was cancelled three times, while shows by bands Take That, Keane and The Black Keys and comedian Peter Kay were also postponed.

However, the arena finally had live music on May 14, when British rock band Elbow took to the stage.

Elbow frontman Guy Garvey appeared to quip about Co-Op Live’s previous woes last night as he took to the stage for the crisis-ridden music venue’s first gig.

Structural issues with the building were among a host of issues previously raised, with reports suggesting its ventilation system was falling from the ceiling.

One worker said ‘there were loads of wires hanging down’ with exposed lighting on the floor which looked ‘very messy’.

In an apparent nod to those woes, Garvey welcomed the audience by quipping: ‘There was already electricity in the air before you lot got in here… and now it’s fully amped up. I hope you can feel it.’

The rocker added that those who had been working on the building had been ‘so excited today, so nervous and so excited’.

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