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Tim Leiweke talks OVG’s international focus

"The majority of projects we’re working on are overseas," says the Oak View Group co-founder and CEO in a new interview

By James Hanley on 13 Jun 2023

Tim Leiweke, Oak View Group (OVG)

Tim Leiweke

Oak View Group (OVG) chief Tim Leiweke has given an insight into the sports and entertainment giant’s global plans in a wide-ranging new interview.

OVG, which has offices in Los Angeles, New York, London, Philadelphia and Toronto, boasts a US venue portfolio including Seattle’s Climate Pledge Arena, UBS Arena in Belmont Park, New York, and Moody Center in Austin, Texas.

The firm also has international developments in the works such as a 20,000-cap arena in São Paulo, Brazil with Live Nation and Co-op Live in Manchester, UK. And speaking to Billboard, Leiweke suggests it is set to further widen its horizons.

“The majority of projects we’re working on are overseas,” he says. “Latin music and K-pop are the biggest industry influencers now. We are also highly focused on Singapore and Asia; Lagos, because look at the artists coming from Nigeria. That’s where you’ve got to go for live music and culture and arts. We have a partner from Nigeria to build the single best arena in all of Africa.”

Leiweke confidently predicts Manchester’s 23,500-cap Co-op Live, now scheduled to open in April 2024, will become a “top five arena in the world”.

“It’s the first time we said, ‘Make it about music – make the bowl perfect – and then we’ll shoehorn in whatever else is important outside the bowl,'” he says. “I think that arena is going to change our industry.”

The company is also exploring opportunities elsewhere in Europe, he reveals.

“We want to go to the great cultural markets of the world where they have arenas that are 30, 40 years old and make those the next flags for the company”

“We’re sniffing around in Barcelona and Madrid,” says Leiweke. “We want to go to the great cultural markets of the world where they have arenas that are 30, 40 years old and make those the next flags for the company.”

Leiweke credits streaming services for their role in changing the game for international acts, pointing to the success of Mexico’s Grupo Firme and Puerto Rico’s Rauw Alejandro.

“The amount of tickets that Latino artists sell is unheard of,” he says. “The same with K-pop. We just did four nights of K-pop including Suga, and UBS [Arena] sold out everything. We had record merchandise sales. We’re going to continue to see that, and I give a lot of credit to the streaming industry. That’s going to be the live pipeline. So, maybe the economics ultimately got kind of turned a little bit against the artist, but it’s created far more artists that can now go sell out arenas.”

Leiweke also offers an update on OVG’s plans for a $3 billion entertainment district in Las Vegas, including a 20,000-seat arena.

“The biggest bet we’ve ever made is our project in Las Vegas,” he says. “It’s the live entertainment capital of the world. But let’s look at the venues. There must be 10 nice theatres on the Strip. You need good arenas, too. T-Mobile was my last deal at AEG. It’s a nice arena, but it pales in comparison to what we just built in Seattle, New York and Austin. How do you have the No.1 live-entertainment marketplace in the world and its arena is not one of the 30 nicest arenas in the country?

“You’ll hear about this soon, but we have a lot of world-class partners, brands and entrepreneurs who have come together to build out a 100-acre campus that will be the destination for live entertainment, culture, the arts and hospitality.”


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