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Oak View Group: ‘We’re coming to London’

Oak View Group’s chief executive revealed plans to build “the greatest arena in the world” in London, during yesterday’s ILMC.

Tim Leiweke told delegates that the venue giant will plant its flag in England’s capital city, which he called “the greatest market in the world for music”.

“London has the O2 and Wembley – it needs another great arena,” he said during the Hotseat interview, accompanied by his daughter and the company’s COO, Francesca Bodie.

“The west side of London needs a new arena and the city can handle two or three arenas,” he continued. “If you look at LA, they have the Intuit Dome, The Forum, Crypto, Hollywood Bowl, the Greek Theatre and Honda Center down in Anaheim. So technically, you have six buildings in the marketplace. And by the way, we have the new Acrisure Arena down in Palm Springs. So, look at the competition in that marketplace.

“London needs an arena as good or better than OVG’s Co-op Live or Intuit Dome or the Sphere or Madison Square Garden. London’s the greatest market in the world for music, period, end of story. Why don’t we build the greatest arena in the world for London?”

The CEO shared his admiration for Jim Dolan, CEO of Madison Square Garden Entertainment, which opened the 20,000-capacity Sphere in Las Vegas in September 2023 with U2’s residency.

“London has the O2 and Wembley – it needs another great arena”

“I’m inspired by what he did,” said Leiweke. “I have so much respect for Jim taking that kind of risk and so much respect for U2 stepping onto that stage – it took guts to carry that belief.”

Leiweke revealed that OVG, which owns and operates more than 300 venues worldwide, has also set its sights on Singapore.

The firm’s portfolio includes Climate Pledge Arena at Seattle Center, UBS Arena in Belmont Park, New York, and Moody Center in Austin, Texas and the Co-op Live development in Manchester, UK.

Discussing Co-op Live, Leiweke said: “It’s the largest single investment in the history of our industry internationally. It’s the most expensive arena ever built outside of North America.”

The venue, which is due to open in April, will be the world’s second carbon-neutral arena after the firm’s Climate Pledge Arena, with UBS Arena slated to follow.

Leiweke added: “Climate Pledge can’t be the only carbon-neutral arena in the world or else [the industry] has failed. We as an industry should lead this charge… sustainability should be the cause of our lifetime in our industry.”

Lieweke said that Co-op Live will be the firm’s “prototype” going forward

“We as a company are going to continue to build these arenas and make sustainability a priority and a way of life in our culture and then hopefully, it will inspire our industry to come along with us.”

Bodie agreed, adding: “Sustainability is part of our core DNA and we want to make sure that we’re not only championing but challenging our industry to get better”.

Lieweke said that Co-op Live will be the firm’s “prototype” going forward when they’re building venues in Vienna, São Paulo and Singapore.

“It’s my favourite building,” he said. “I’ve had the great privilege of being a part of building 20 arenas and this is the best arena I’ve ever seen.

“The way we’ve designed our nine private clubs is economically what will drive our ability to privatise this building. We didn’t take one pound from anybody, not the city, not the UK authorities, we didn’t accept any subsidies of any kind. We’ve committed close to 50 million pounds back to the community, to you, to music, to ultimately impacting our community through the Co-op foundation over the course of our lease. It’s going to revolutionise our businesses.”

The two executives also discussed the importance of the recently announced arena in Lagos, Nigeria, and the challenges of operating in an underdeveloped market.

“I predict 12 more arenas are gonna get built by us or somebody else in Africa because we’ll show people that it works”

“We’ve identified Africa, from a content perspective, as an important strategic investment because they have so many great artists but nowhere to play,” said Bodie.

“The key was local partners, who made us aware of this healthy dose of scepticism because there’s been a lot of promises that haven’t been fulfilled.”

Leiweke added: “We could sit here for a half hour and tell you the obstacles that we had to go through. We’re fortunate that the chairman is so well respected there that he’s been trying to get our money into Nigeria, which is really hard. Trying to get our money out of Nigeria, nearly impossible. Dealing with inflation is unbelievable right now, as is the cost of goods. It is a risky move, by the way. Live Nation jumped in with us as well because what we do understand is that it’s a huge opportunity to grow music and Africa and Nigeria.

“I predict 12 more arenas are gonna get built by us or somebody else in Africa because we’ll show people that it works and when it does work, it can be a pride point of that entire community. Wait to see what it does for emerging artists that are coming out of Nigeria. It’s going to change and give them a platform and a voice.”


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Leiweke & Bodie set for ILMC Hot Seat interview

The International Live Music Conference (ILMC) has announced that Oak View Group’s (OVG) Tim Leiweke and Francesca Bodie will appear at the conference for this year’s Hot Seat interview.

The first-of-its kind keynote conversation with the father and daughter team will provide the finale to ILMC’s Wednesday (28 February) conference programme at London’s Royal Lancaster Hotel.

Weeks from doors opening at the new Co-op Live Arena in Manchester, OVG CEO Leiweke and COO Bodie will give their thoughts on the future of live entertainment, and ponder how venue operators and the broader business can keep pace in this fast-changing, golden era of live.

With just two weeks until the live music industry’s principal annual gathering begins, the line up of guest speakers is now largely in place. ILMC’s opening session, The Open Forum session, chaired by CAA’s Maria May, will feature Niamh Byrne of Eleven Management (UK) and Live Nation Spain chair Pino Sagliocco, plus ASM Global Europe’s Chris Bray and DEAG’s Peter Schwenkow.

After a recent UK government report found that misogyny is “endemic” in the music industry, ILMC will be hosting a discussion on Thursday 29 February to consider the response from the live sector. Misogyny in Music: Report & Action will be chaired by Eunice Obianagha of ENSPIRE Management/UK Music with guests speakers Jen Smith from the CIISA (Creative Industries Independent Standards Authority), John Shortell from Musicians’ Union, Christina Hazboun from PRS Foundation/Keychange and the Royal Albert Hall’s Louise Halliday.

Other speakers include Cindy Castillo (Mad Cool), Jan Quiel (Wacken) and Jess Philips (Untitled), who will join Jim King (AEG Presents) and Annika Hintz for Festival Forum: Headline Topics, while Wacken co-founder Thomas Jensen is the latest addition to The Heat Is On: Extreme Weather & Live Music, alongside Jamal Chalabi (A Greener Future), Prof Richard Betts MBE (The Met Office), May Ling (Chugg Entertainment) and Alexandra von Samson of Dekra.

In addition, Matías Lóizaga of PopArt Music (AR), Bradlee Banbury of CAA (UK), Heather Lowe of Fred Perry (Global) and Nillie Münir of Virgin Media O2 (UK) are added to Sponsorship: The Brand Space.

And Rense van Kessel of Friendly Fires (NL) and Coralie Berael of Be At Venues (BE) complete the lineup for Teamwork: Culture & Careers In Live Music, joining the previously announced Jana Watkins of Live Nation (UK), Obi Asika of United Talent Agency (UK) and Sönke Schal of Karsten Jahnke Konzertdirektion (DE).

This year’s Breakfast Meeting keynote conversation sees AEG’s Jay Marciano sit down with longtime host Ed Bicknell, on Thursday 29 Feb.

ILMC takes place from 27 February-1 March with 1,500 delegates travelling from 53 markets this year. The full conference programme is on the ILMC website here.


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Oak View Group appoints new COO

Venue management giant Oak View Group (OVG) has appointed Francesca Bodie to the newly established position of chief operating officer (COO).

Bodie’s role will increase from capital development, mergers, and acquisitions to a focus on new revenue streams including overseeing all day-to-day operations for OVG globally, as well as leading OVG’s executive committee. She previously served as OVG’s president of business development.

The move comes as OVG announces a major strategic investment in Family Entertainment Holdings (FEH), as well as Navarro’s activations in partnership with Christian Navarro following OVG’s April 2023 announcement of the venture. Bodie served as the architect of both deals that bring “new premium entertainment offerings to OVG venues and partner venues globally”.

“I am honoured to lead and work alongside my exceptional team members that have worked tirelessly and passionately since OVG’s inception,” says Bodie. “Together, we’ve steadily developed Oak View Group into a world-class brand that resonates with fans, artists, and venue and sports professionals. With today’s announcement, we are continuing our focus on elevating all guests’ experiences through premium offerings and content at all OVG venues and those of our partners as well.

“I’m proud to be a part of a company that is passionate about continually raising industry standards”

“I’m proud to be a part of a company that is passionate about continually raising industry standards and exceeding guest expectations to reshape the live entertainment experience.”

OVG is adding touring family content with the investment in FEH, developer of family-oriented live events including toys-to-life shows of Mattel’s Hot Wheels Monster Trucks, Magic of Lights.

In addition to her ongoing responsibility for capital investment strategy and mergers and acquisitions, Bodie will lead the company in building processes across human resources, finance, legal, and marketing to fuel the continued growth of OVG. Based in Denver, Bodie will report to Tim Leiweke, chair and CEO of Oak View Group.

Prior to her new role, Bodie oversaw multiple global projects for OVG and the expansion of the company’s brand, and its venues, and creating growth in third-party partnerships by leveraging industry relationships and identifying new business opportunities globally.  She played an instrumental role in leading key service company acquisitions and raising $12-billion-plus of invested capital for OVG’s multiple venues that have opened over the last 18 months, including the $1-billion-plus makeover for the redevelopment of Seattle’s Climate Pledge Arena.

“OVG is the only company in history to build and open seven brand-new state-of-the-art venues within 18 months”

She has also spearheaded new arena ventures deployed in areas such as New York’s $1.5 billion UBS Arena, home to the NHL’s New York Islanders; the $375 million Moody Center for the Texas Longhorns at the University of Texas in Austin; the $280 million Mullett Arena in Tempe, AZ; the $365 million Enmarket Arena in Savannah, GA; Acrisure Arena in Greater Palm Springs, home to the AHL’s affiliate of the Seattle Kraken, the Western Conference Champion Coachella Valley Firebirds; the $200 million CFG Bank Arena in Baltimore.

“2023 was a pivotal year for Oak View Group across its service business and owned and operated portfolio,” adds Leiweke. “OVG is the only company in history to build and open seven brand-new state-of-the-art venues within 18 months, and Francesca contributed greatly to that growth and success. As we look to the future, we’re honored to have Francesca as OVG’s first COO to nurture and mature our current businesses and spearhead our next phase of growth in 2024 and beyond.”

Presently, Bodie, who is Leiweke’s daughter, is leading upcoming OVG development projects including the new $10 billion arena and live entertainment district in Las Vegas; a new arena in São Paulo, BZ; renovation of the FirstOntario Centre Arena in Hamilton, ON; and the $365 million Co-op Live in Manchester, UK, which will be the UK’s largest indoor and most state-of-the-art entertainment venue, and Europe’s first carbon net zero building when it opens in April 2024.


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