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Providence Equity takes stake in Sphere designer

Providence Equity Partners has acquired a minority stake in Populous, an architectural and design firm for sports and entertainment venues.

Providence, which already backs Superstruct, Wasserman and Ambassador Theatre Group, says the acquisition “fits squarely with [our] focus on sports, entertainment and live events businesses”.

Founded in 1983 as HOK Sports Facilities Group, Populous’s portfolio spans 3,000 projects including Yankee Stadium in New York, Wembley Stadium in London, Stadium Australia and every Olympic and Paralympic Summer Games since 1996.

The firm’s portfolio also boasts the $2.3 billion Las Vegas Sphere (cap. 18,600), which officially opened on 29 September with U2’s residency.

Providence’s investment in Populous is subject to customary regulatory approvals and financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

“Populous has established an exceptional reputation for designing vibrant entertainment destinations”

Populous will continue to be led by one of its founders and global chair, Earl Santee, and its existing leadership.

“As our industry continues to evolve, we believe this partnership will enable greater integration and expansion of our global business,” says Santee. “Providence has a strong track record of supporting the success of businesses that deliver world-class events and experiences, and we believe their expertise will further accelerate our momentum and enable us to capitalize on additional growth opportunities while retaining the core values and culture that are integral to Populous.”

Scott Marimow, a managing director at Providence, adds: “Over the last 40 years, Populous has established an exceptional reputation for designing vibrant entertainment destinations that create unforgettable experiences for fans, spectators and communities worldwide.

“We have been impressed by the differentiated business and culture that Earl and his team have built, as well as its world-class portfolio of projects for some of the most iconic names in sports and entertainment. We believe Populous is well positioned for continued, sustainable growth and will benefit from consumer demand for live entertainment and increased infrastructure investment by venue owners seeking to create new and innovative environments and experiences.”

The Providence deal was announced after Monday’s news that Pennsylvania State University had selected Populous to design a multi-year renovation of Beaver Stadium (cap. 106,000), the second-largest stadium in the US.


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