Manchester city council still owns the stadium, on which it spent £22m of council tax payers' money to have the running track removed and convert it for City to occupy as tenants after the Commonwealth Games. City handed their former Maine Road home to the council, and spent £20m installing bars, restaurants and corporate entertaining areas at Eastlands. The terms of the rent were for City to pay the council a proportion of ticket income above Maine Road's 32,000 capacity, which has produced around £2m for the council annually since 2003 – £16m in total.
Under the tenancy agreement, the council retained control of naming rights to the stadium, which remains a publicly owned asset. As City, owned since 2008 by Sheikh Mansour of Abu Dhabi, pondered fulfilling its ambitions, the agreement was renegotiated last year. The council excluded the public from those discussions because, according to the minutes of its executive meeting, they "involved consideration of exempt information relating to the financial or business affairs of particular persons".
It now transpires that the overall rent paid by City will now increase to "circa £4m a year". In return, the council released its control of naming rights, but has in eefcet doubled its annual income from the club.
Not everyone is happy with the deal though,
Marc Ramsbottom, leader of the opposition Liberal Democrat group on the Labour-controlled council, said insufficient detail had been disclosed on the deal: "I am not criticising £2m for the stadium naming rights, because we cannot actually assess whether a better deal with Manchester City might have been done. And while investment is very welcome, such developments have often not lived up to the grandiose claims made for their regeneration benefits."
But the £100m-plus campus development, and the extra £2m from the stadium naming rights deal, has been hugely welcomed by Sir Howard Bernstein the Council's Chief Executive and the Council. "We are very satisfied with the deal, a doubling of the income we were receiving at the stadium," Bernstein said.