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Oak View Group to merge with Spectra

Oak View Group (OVG) has announced plans to merge with Spectra, a Philadelphia-based venue management firm with arenas, stadia, theatres and convention centres across North America.

Founded in 2015 by industry veterans Tim Leiweke and Irving Azoff, OVG specialises in property development and financing, sponsorship and partnerships and venue operation and security, while Spectra provides management, consultancy and hospitality services to its partner venues. The merger of the pair, terms of which were not disclosed, creates a “full-service” company with complementary specialities, according to Leiweke, the former AEG CEO who now serves in the same role at OVG.

“This merger brings together two dynamic leaders in the live events industry with complementary capabilities that will deliver a broad array of services to our clients,” says Leiweke. “OVG’s core competencies in arena development and corporate sponsorships, coupled with Spectra’s leadership in food and beverage services, will create a full-service live events company that will deliver a compelling and highly competitive set of offerings that meet our clients’ evolving needs.

“I look forward to collaborating with the talented team at Spectra and bringing together our two organisations to create something truly unique.”

“This merger brings together two dynamic leaders in the live events industry with complementary capabilities”

Dave Scott, CEO of Spectra, adds: “This is an exciting development for Spectra and an important step in our journey to provide unparallelled services to our clients along with exciting growth opportunities for our team members as part of a larger, more diverse organisation. This merger accelerates our existing strategy and will lead to significant opportunities to cross-sell food, beverage and sponsorship services across our combined client base.

“I look forward to working with Tim, Irving and the OVG team to enhance the future of live events for our valued clients.”

Following completion of the merger, which is expected in the fourth quarter of this 2021 (subject to regulatory approvals and other conditions), OVG will remain headquartered in Los Angeles and Spectra in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Spectra offers venue management, food services and hospitality, and partnerships services for 330 clients in the US and Canada, including stadia, arenas, convention centres, performing arts centres, fairgrounds and casinos, as well as Singapore Sports Hub in south-east Asia. OVG, which has six arenas under construction, including Co-op Live in Manchester, UK, recently inked a global ticketing deal with Ticketmaster.

 


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SEC goes local with new food strategy

The host of COP26, the Scottish Event Campus (SEC) in Glasgow, has announced its a new sustainable food strategy which will see it source at least 80% of produce from within Scotland and only use reusable or recyclable packaging by 2023.

The renewed approach has been developed over the past two years with its official catering and hospitality partner Levy UK + I, the sports, and hospitality division of Compass Group UK and Ireland. All produce will be sourced from high-welfare producers with sustainable agriculture processes.

As part of the new food strategy, SEC will champion high quality, environmentally friendly local suppliers in areas such as fruit and vegetables, meat and bread. The food and drink offering at the landmark Glasgow venue will offer a broader range of plant-based options alongside premium and low-impact, local animal protein sources.

“As our industry gears up to restart, there is no better time to drive forward positive change.”

The venue is also making strides in the fight against food waste and aims to have reduced kitchen wastage to under 1% of food purchases by 2025 or sooner. Food waste will continue to be diverted from landfill to anaerobic digestion processing.

SEC donates surplus non-perishable food to local charity Launch Foods. In 2020, SEC donated around 10,000 food items to the charity who distribute it through local community organisations and schools.

Debbie McWilliams, Director of Live Entertainment at SEC, said: “Our new food strategy is an integral part of our commitment to reducing the environmental impact of events that take place on our Campus.

“As our industry gears up to restart, there is no better time to drive forward positive change. We are proud to have a strong and ambitious strategy in place to help us champion the very best of sustainably sourced Scottish produce on the international stage.”

The new food strategy has been implemented ahead of SEC hosting the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26), taking place from 1–12 November 2021.

 


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Bodrum Arena to transform ‘Turkish Riviera’

Work will begin later this year on a new entertainment and sports arena in Turkish tourist hotspot Bodrum.

The Bodrum Arena project will begin in around five months with more than €70 million public-private investment, Akhmet Palankoev, head of the Russian-Turkish Business Council, tells Anadolu Agency, adding that the arena will feature “Russian technology”.

Work is expected to take around 15 months. When open, the arena, located the heart of the ‘Turkish Riviera’ on the Aegean Sea, will host concerts by “world stars”, as well as ice-hockey and skating events, and employ 300 people.

Tourist hot spot Bodrum on the “Turkish Riviera” is set to become home to a massive complex that will be built with the help of Russian technology, the head of the Russian-Turkish Business Council said Sunday.

It is hoped the arena will be used year-round and reduce Bodrum’s reliance on seasonal tourism

The arena is expected to have a capacity of 20,000, according to SportInvest Bodrum, which is leading the project, and will be built on a 30,000m² site that also includes shops, a restaurant, a hotel, an Olympic-sized swimming pool and a mosque. “We also want to open a school where young people interested in ice hockey, ice skating and other ice sports can receive education,” says Palankoev.

It is hoped the arena will be used year-round and reduce Bodrum’s reliance on seasonal tourism.

If the capacity ends up being 20,000, it will be the one of the largest indoor arenas in Turkey, exceeded only by the 16,000-seat Sinan Erdem Dome in Istanbul, which has a capacity of up to 22,500 for concerts.

 


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AEG to build 18,000-cap. arena in Osaka

A consortium including AEG has been chosen to deliver a new 18,000-capacity indoor arena near Osaka in south-western Japan.

A joint venture comprising AEG (Anschutz Entertainment Group), Mitsubishi Corporation Urban Development (MCUD) and Kanden Realty and Development will construct the venue at Expo ’70 Commemorative Park, a 264-hectare (650ac) park in Suita, after beating a rival bid by Live Nation and Oak View Group.

The new arena, provisionally simply called Osaka Arena, has a provisional opening date of autumn Reiwa 9 (2027), according to Sankei Shimbun.

When complete, Osaka Arena will host around 65 events every year

With a capacity of 18,000, the arena will be the biggest in western Japan, and second-biggest in the country behind the mammoth Saitama Super Arena (36,500-cap.) in Tokyo. According to Osaka Prefecture, when complete the venue will host some 165 events annually, including entertainment and sports events such as NBA basketball matches.

Hirofumi Yoshimura, the governor of Osaka Prefecture, said at a press conference he is looking forward to seeing the consortium, a “global business entity, exerting its strength to bring sports and concerts the likes of which we have not seen in Osaka.”

 


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New Toronto arena to double as ‘global hub for esports’

Global esports and entertainment organisation OverActive Media is set to build a multipurpose 7,000-seater arena in Exhibition Place, Toronto, projected to be complete in 2025.

According to the company, the venue will host 200+ events a year, driven primarily by music and entertainment bookings, while also serving corporate events, award shows and ‘a full slate of esports events increasing over time’.

OverActive Media is the owner of four major global esport franchises, including Toronto’s two professional teams – Toronto Ultra of the Call of Duty League and Toronto Defiant of the Overwatch League.

“We are already in active discussions to attract some of the biggest esport events in the world”

The venue will be home for both teams and the company hopes to establish the Toronto arena as a “global hub for major international esport events”.

The arena, designed by Populous, is just one aspect of the privately financed $500 million project, which includes a theatre-style entertainment venue and hotel complex.

“Today is another important step in the evolution of OverActive Media. We are building a world-leading, 21st-century sports, media and entertainment company and this best-in-class performance venue will be the chosen home for a new generation of fans that think differently about their entertainment choices and experiences,” says Chris Overholt, president and CEO at OverActive.

“It has always been our intention to develop a venue and hosting strategy and to build a facility that could not only serve as an iconic home for our two franchises, but ultimately emerge as a global hub for major international esport events. We are already in active discussions to attract some of the biggest esport events in the world. This venue will redefine Toronto’s event hosting opportunities in every way,” added Overholt.

The arena will be the first new sports or entertainment venue built in Toronto since 2007 when the city opened BMO Field, a 40,000-capacity outdoor stadium at Exhibition Place.

 


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Live Nation selected for new Cardiff arena

Live Nation has been identified as the preferred bidder to manage a new 15,000-capacity indoor arena in Cardiff.

The new venue, which will become Live Nation’s second arena in the Welsh capital, will cost around £150 million to build and, it is hoped, attract more than 1m visitors and an estimated £100m into the local economy annually.

A Live Nation-led consortium – which also includes venue company Oak View Group (OVG) and property firm Robertson – was behind one of two offers to Cardiff Council, which was seeking a private-sector partner to “deliver a top-tier UK venue that that will enable events of all sizes to be hosted in the city.”

Live Nation also operates the 5,000-capacity Cardiff International Arena (formerly Motorpoint Arena Cardiff), as well as converted warehouse venue Titan Warehouse. OVG, meanwhile, is currently constructing a new arena, Co-op Live, in Manchester, England.

Russell Goodway, Cardiff Council’s cabinet member for investment and development, says: “The city’s strategy is to establish the Cardiff Arena as a top-tier UK arena and to make it the premier arena in the south-west region of England and Wales.”

“Our combined experience in the delivery and operation of facilities of this nature will result in a world-class facility”

A rival arena in Bristol, in south-west England, YTL Arena, is now expected to open in 2023, after years of delays. It was originally due to open in 2018, with SMG Europe (now ASM Global) managing, but is now under construction at a new site.

According to Cardiff Council leader Huw Thomas, the council will commit less than 15% of the arena’s cost, with the remaining 85%+ of capital investment coming from the council’s private-sector partners.

In a joint statement, Live Nation, Oak View Group and Robertson say: “We are delighted to have been announced preferred bidder today to deliver the new Cardiff arena. We look forward to working in partnership with Cardiff Council to bring this ambitious vision to life over the next few years.

“Our combined experience in the delivery and operation of facilities of this nature will result in a world-class facility that will bring economic benefits to the entire region, both during its construction and for many years to come once it’s open. In 2021 we will embark on the next phase of the planning process, which will provide the wider community the opportunity to see our exciting proposals for the site.”

 


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Benicàssim promoter to manage new Valencia arena

Festival promoter The Music Republic will run the under-construction Casal España Arena in Valencia, Spain’s biggest indoor arena, when it opens later this decade.

The Music Republic – whose festival portfolio includes Arenal Sound (60,000-cap.) in Burriana, Viña Rock (60,000-cap.) in Villarrobledo and Festival Internacional de Benicàssim (50,000-cap.), which it acquired from MCD/SJM last summer – will manage the arena alongside Juan Roig, whose Licampa 1617 holding company is leading the project, through a new operating company, València 5 Estrellas.

As well as managing the arena, València 5 Estrellas will oversee all partnerships with promoters, suppliers, service companies and other stakeholders, with the goal of making Casal España Arena a venue where “promoters can [stage] any kind of sports or entertainment events, regardless of their nature or format”, according to The Music Republic (TMR).

With a capacity of up to 18,600 for concerts, the new arena will be the largest in Spain, with space for over 3,000 fans more than Madrid’s WiZink Center.

Valencia Arena to be biggest in Spain

Construction began on Casal España Arena, funded by €220m in public–private investment, earlier this year.

Víctor Sendra, CEO of Licampa 1617, comments: “A significant milestone has been reached in this project, which allows us to move forward in the management of the venue alongside partners that are highly specialised in the organisation and creation of music and entertainment experiences…

“It is a great opportunity for Valencia and Spain, having the first arena of such a magnitude”

“In addition, we share the same vision regarding the future of Casal España Arena de València. We have long way to go, and we are very excited to create a team that will help us succeed with a project that is so important for Valencia, and to which Juan Roig’s patronage is fully committed.”

TMR David Sánchez adds: “It is a great opportunity for Valencia and Spain, having the first arena of such a magnitude and capabilities, designed to host all kinds of cultural, sports and corporate events, [positioning] itself as an attractive venue for users and the maximum number of event promoters.

“Valencia will be able to host many events that could not be accommodated to date due to the lack of equipped and specialised spaces. We are very pleased and grateful for contributing to the management of this great project, together with Licampa 1617.”

Casal España Arena is projected to open in 2023.

 


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Australia to host first arena concerts since March

TEG, Live Nation and the government of New South Wales (NSW) have announced plans for The Greatest Southern Nights, Australia’s first arena shows since the shutdown of the concert business in March.

Taking place as part of Great Summer Nights, the state-backed 1,000-show concert series running in NSW throughout this month, the Greatest Southern Nights shows will play to more than 12,000 fans at Qudos Bank Arena (21,000-cap.) over two nights in a seated, ‘Covid-safe’ setting.

Ocean Alley will headline the first gig, on Saturday 28 November, joined by Jack River, Ruby Fields and Jack Botts, with Bernard Fanning and Matt Corby, supported by Merci, Mercy, playing the second on Saturday 5 December. For each, co-promoters TEG Live and Live Nation will welcome more than 6,000 fans to the Sydney venue.

Geoff Jones, CEO of TEG and a key figure in the pan-industry Live Entertainment Industry Fund (LEIF), comments: “These shows are vital for our industry because they will show that we can stage big live concerts safely and that Australians cannot wait to get out and share great live entertainment experiences with their friends and family.

“We have seen the successful and safe return of large crowds to major live sport, and it is time for live music to make a return at scale at a world-class venue, Qudos Bank Arena, which we will operate in a reduced, Covid-safe capacity for these shows.”

Tickets for the Ocean Alley show cost A$91.60 (€56), while the Bernard Fanning-Matt Corby date is priced at $99.90 (€60). The shows go on sale at 10am local time Monday and Tuesday, respectively, via TEG’s Ticketek platform.

“After eight long months of zero arena shows, these concerts will see great musicians bring thousands of fans back together”

“After eight long months of zero arena shows, these concerts will see great musicians bring thousands of fans back together,” comments Roger Field, president of Live Nation Asia Pacific, who also serves on the LEIF executive committee. “Not only will these two wonderful nights of entertainment deliver significant employment but they are sure to inject a vital economic boost to our industry and the economy.”

The shows are supported by New South Wales’s tourism agency, Destination NSW. The state’s minister for jobs, investment, tourism and Western Sydney, Stuart Ayres, says: “NSW has led Australia in reigniting the live music industry through Great Southern Nights, and now we are excited to announce these landmark concerts that will be the hottest tickets in the country.

“The NSW government is proud to be getting artists, roadies, venues, hospitality staff and tourism businesses back to work and we hope this heralds the safe return of major indoor arena events.”

Arena shows have already returned to neighbouring New Zealand, where Live Nation recently promoted a headline tour by local star Benee. At press time, Australia had just 12 new cases of coronavirus today (6 November), while NZ had one.

“I’m so happy to be part of the reopening of the live music scene in NSW,” adds Bernard Fanning. “It’s a great opportunity to get people safely together again, but just as importantly to give the music industry workers whose lives have been so upended by Covid a chance to get back to doing what they do best.”

 


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Harry Styles invests in Manchester’s Co-op Live arena

Harry Styles has made an investment in Co-op Live, the forthcoming arena in his hometown of Manchester, UK, operator Oak View Group (OVG) has announced.

The arena, which at 23,500 capacity will be the UK’s largest, was given planning approval in September and is set to open in 2023. Styles’s investment, for an undisclosed amount, adds to the estimated £350m in private investment the arena will bring to the city.

According to OVG, the former One Direction star will take “more than a capital interest” in Co-op Live and will be actively involved in the development of the project, working alongside the OVG team “with a particular focus on fans, unique premium and hospitality areas, and artist spaces”.

“I couldn’t be happier being involved in this project”

“I’m incredibly proud and excited to be partnering with OVG on their plans for Co-op Live,” comments Styles (pictured). Manchester is an incredible city, filled with incredible people, and I couldn’t be happier being involved in this project. It very much feels like coming home.

“I was drawn to this project on every level, from the opportunities it brings to the contribution it will make to the city, and, most importantly, that it will allow even more live music to thrive in Manchester. It’s just another sign that this amazing city continues to grow.”

Francesca Bodie, OVG’s president of business development, says: “At OVG, our vision is driven by a unique view that puts fans and artists first in every decision we make. There’s no artist in the world right now better placed than Harry to advise us on delivering a first-class experience for visitors and artists at Co-op Live.”

 


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OVG’s new Manchester arena to be called Co-op Live

Oak View Group (OVG) is joining forces with the Co-op to develop its new east Manchester arena, which was given the green light yesterday.

The 23,500-capacity venue, which will be built on the Etihad Campus, the site of Manchester City FC’s Etihad Stadium in Eastlands, will be named Co-op Live during the 15-year partnership – which IQ understands is worth £100m.

The partnership will enable Co-op to offer its members a number of exclusive benefits including pre-sale tickets; discounts on food and beverage; the chance to win free tickets and exclusive backstage VIP experiences, plus priority entry-access to the venue.

The Co-op Foundation will also be responsible for distributing the arena’s annual contribution of £1 million to good causes, which will involve helping to tackle food poverty via a zero-food waste initiative and working towards Manchester’s zero-carbon agenda.

Jo Whitfield, CEO, Co-op Food, said: “Ethics are at the heart of the Co-op and we’re proud that one of the world’s greenest and most socially responsible live entertainment venues will carry our name. It will give millions of pounds back to local communities and good causes and we’ll make access to entertainment easier for our members with exclusive and pre-sale tickets.”

She added: “The coronavirus pandemic is having a significant impact and our multi-million-pound investment is a signal of our intent for the future of the region, creating jobs and helping to bring some of the world’s best events to Manchester.”​

“The shared values will help define the ethos of the venue, including bold commitments on sustainability and community”

Tim Leiweke, CEO at Oak View Group, says: “We’re delighted with this partnership and join together with the Co-op team to build the new world-class arena that Manchester deserves. Our shared vision with Co-op is what makes this partnership so special.

“Our partnership goes way beyond a normal naming rights agreement. The shared values will help define the ethos of the venue, including bold commitments on sustainability and community.

“I’ve said from the beginning of this project that this arena will be of Manchester, for Manchester and by Manchester, and this partnership with one of the city’s most iconic brands is a critical part of that. We can’t wait to work together to bring amazing live event experiences, in one of the world’s best arenas, to Manchester.”

Sam Piccione III, President, OVG International, said: “We started discussions with Co-op over a year ago, and knew from the very first meeting that they were the right partner for our new venue in Manchester.

“We’ve worked hard together throughout the challenging recent months to bring the right deal together. Co-op is both one of the UK’s most recognisable brands and deeply embedded in the local community, so it’s a privilege to partner with them for the next 15 years.”

Manchester City Council yesterday gave OVG the go-ahead to build Co-op Live, which will rival New York’s Madison Square Garden (20,789), The Forum in LA (17,505) and The O2 in London (21,000).

The project will inject £350m of private investment into the local area and will create 3,350 constructions jobs, starting from November this year, and 1,000 roles and apprenticeships. The Co-op will back the arena’s apprenticeship programme and provide direct employment opportunities for its six secondary and college academies across Greater Manchester.

 


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