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OVG’s Jessica Koravos: ‘We’re very opportunistic’

The Oak View Group International president sheds light on the firm's plans for new arenas in London and Lagos

By James Hanley on 21 May 2024

Jessica Koravos

Oak View Group (OVG) International president Jessica Koravos has spoken to IQ about the company’s plans for new arena developments in Europe and Africa.

OVG’s chief executive Tim Leiweke first revealed plans to build “the greatest arena in the world” in west London during his Hotseat interview at this year’s International Live Music Conference (ILMC), while the firm has also broken ground on a $100 million, 12,000-cap purpose-built venue in Lagos, Nigeria.

“We’re very opportunistic, and where we see a good opportunity in a good market – or an underserved market – we jump on it,” Koravos tells IQ. “Lagos is a prime example of that, in that you have one of the biggest music markets in the world in terms of fan and local artist concentration that has not got a single purpose-built music or sports venue to scale. I think that new arena in Lagos is going to be revolutionary in that market.”

Although London is already home to The O2 (cap. 21,000) and OVO Arena Wembley (12,500), Koravos believes the capital city is still “underserved” for arenas.

“London is at the very top of of Tim’s list,” she says. “It’s just got The O2 which, of course, Tim and I were both involved in building [while at AEG], and it’s got Wembley. It is a market that needs additional capacity and will do more than any other arena in any other city to expand the the number of arena tours going through the UK, because a lot of that thinking – rightly or wrongly – starts with London.

“Expanding capacity in London will open up a raft of additional opportunities for the whole country”

“If you can’t get dates in London then you wait until you can to route your tour, so expanding capacity in London will open up a raft of additional opportunities for the whole country.”

The company’s new 23,500-cap Co-op Live venue in Manchester got up and running last week with a concert by Elbow following a series of delays and has since hosted gigs by the Black Keys, Eric Clapton and Barry Manilow. The “music-first” arena’s opening season lineup also includes the likes of Nicki Minaj and Stevie Nicks, as well as several multi-night residencies including Liam Gallagher, The Killers and UK exclusive performances by the Eagles.

OVG also added high-end hospitality group Rhubarb Hospitality Collection to its ranks in 2023, having previously acquired a number of companies in the field including Bovingdons Catering and Spectrum Catering, Concessions & Event Services.

“It fits into our thinking about fan experience,” explains Koravos. “When we started thinking about what we wanted this new generation of venues to look like, one of the things that was the top of everybody’s list was that, whilst food and beverage is a fundamental part of the experience of going out to a concert, it has traditionally just not been done very well. And it hasn’t been done very well partly because it’s been outsourced to third party food and beverage partners.

“One of the first things that we tried to do was say, ‘Let’s take that back in house, control the full experience and try to find who does this best.’ And Rhubarb is the top premium food and beverage company in the country, so were a natural choice and a great fit.”


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