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OVG hits back as ASM formally objects to new MCR arena

ASM Global, operator of the UK’s Manchester Arena, has submitted a formal objection to plans for a new 23,500-capacity arena in Manchester, alleging again that a second large entertainment venue in the city is unsustainable and would have a negative affect on Manchester’s economy.

The objection by ASM (formerly SMG Europe) follows the filing of a planning application by Oak View Group (OVG), the company behind the £350 million project, which was officially unveiled earlier this year following a six-month feasibility study by OVG.

If approved, the new venue – located on the Etihad Campus, the site of Manchester City FC’s Etihad Stadium in Eastlands, in east Manchester – would be, by some way, the largest indoor arena in the UK, and go head to head with the 21,000-capacity Manchester Arena in Manchester city centre. The planning application also includes plans for a 180,000+ sqft food and beverage/retail space.

Citing independent analysis by consulting firm Charles River Associates, ASM claims to have uncovered “significant flaws in the evidence supporting the planning application” that raises “legitimate concerns” about the impact the new venue would have on Manchester Arena and other city-centre businesses.

Among other points, ASM – which is supported by several other city-centre businesses, including the Arndale shopping centre and venue owner Living Ventures – says OVG’s market projections are over-optimistic and at odds with historical data; that public-transport infrastructure would be unable to cope with increased football; and that Manchester, despite being a one-arena city, is already well-served by major live entertainment venues.

“A new venue, with world-leading technology, would help to grow the overall entertainment market within Manchester”

A new mini-site, together.manchester-arena.com, serves as a hub for Manchester Arena/ASM Global’s objections to the new arena.

“We have clear reasons for opposing a new arena in Eastlands, and have never shied away from making our voice heard. We firmly believe that this planning application presents a very real threat to not only our venue and transformative redevelopment plans, but to our neighbouring hotels, bars, restaurants and stores, at what is an already fragile time,” reads a statement from ASM, which also commissioned a separate study that concludes a second arena would “shatter” Manchester city centre’s economy.

“Independent analysis clearly demonstrates there is no demand for a second major venue in Manchester. To introduce another would risk running the other out of business, taking with it the visitors and spend it positively contributes to surrounding businesses. Analysis from leading consultants demonstrates the astounding nature of the market projections included within the planning application – projections which rely on cherrypicked data and ignore historical growth.

“We ask that this application receives proper scrutiny, and takes into consideration the concerns of local people and business, especially given the risks it poses to Manchester’s culture, economy and environment.”

Oak View Group, unsurprisingly, disputes allegations of cherrypicking data, and is also wielding economic analysis of its own, in the form of an economic impact assessment by PWC and Ekosgen which concludes the new arena would contribute up to £1.5 billion of new economic activity over the 20 years from opening (planned for 2023) – and that city-centre businesses would benefit from an estimated 85% of all new arena-related spending.

“There is no demand for a second major venue in Manchester”

Mark Donnelly, COO of OVG International, says Manchester, a European live music capital, is failing to capitalise on its musical heritage, and that a new arena would grow the local market, as has happened in other large cities.

“Manchester is a city with a proud music and sporting history and a huge appetite for live entertainment, but it’s currently losing market share in the national live entertainment industry,” he comments. “A new venue, with world-leading technology, would help to grow the overall entertainment market within Manchester and attract a wider range of larger and more impressive live events to the city.

“Manchester has developed a thriving tourism and entertainment market, and we are completely confident that a new venue at Eastlands would happily co-exist with the current arena, as well as other venues in the city centre and across the region. Economic analysis submitted as part of our application shows that a new arena would bring an additional £36m per year in direct annual local spending and at least £1.3bn of additional economic activity from two arenas over 20 years. City-centre business would account for 85% of visitor expenditure from two arenas, significantly increasing jobs and economic activity compared to the current position.

“We look forward to reviewing the existing arena’s full analysis, as the little released so far seems to paint a negative view of the market, and the city’s position within it, which we and expert industry analysts simply do not recognise. The live entertainment industry is supportive of our proposals, as they foresee ongoing growth in the market post-Covid, with a great opportunity for Manchester to play a leading role in that.”

Andrew Coles, director of real assets at Aviva Investors, which describes itself as “one of the largest investors in Manchester’s built environment”, is supportive of the ASM-led objection, saying further economic assessment is needed before proceeding.

“We are so confident in Manchester’s potential that we are willing to commit £350m investment to the city”

Because of coronavirus, he says, “the situation in the city centre and its businesses is vastly different to what it was at the start of this year”, he says. “‘The basis of the Eastlands arena application was written before the full scale of the economic impact on Manchester was understood. We would urge the relevant authorities to carefully consider how to ensure the vitality and viability of the city centre, which reflects the economic reality on the ground.

“As such, we believe a full retail and leisure impact assessment of a scheme of this size is needed.”

Donnelly, however, says the new arena is just what the city needs to get back on its feet, creating in excess of 3,000 jobs during construction – which could begin later this year, pending approval of the planning application – alone.

“Other major UK cities are thriving with two or more arenas, and we are so confident in Manchester’s potential that we are willing to commit £350 million entirely privately funded investment to the city, creating 3,350 jobs during the construction phase and a further 1,000 once open in 2023,” he concludes.

“We want to partner with businesses and the wider community in Manchester and, following a successful planning process, OVG could be onsite as early as October, beginning to create new construction jobs straight away – vital to help the region recover economically from the current crisis.”

 


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OVG advances plans on new Manchester arena project

Oak View Group (OVG) is launching a second consultation period for a possible new arena at the Etihad Campus, home to Manchester City Football Club, in the east of Manchester, UK.

The US-based venue development and investment group confirmed its interest in building a major new concert venue in Manchester at the end of August, working in partnership with Manchester City FC owner City Football Group. The venue would rival ASM Global’s 21,000-capacity Manchester Arena.

The second round of meetings opens on Thursday 28 November, with the consultation period running until Monday 16 December. OVG held a previous round of four consultation events in October, to share initial ideas and gauge community priorities.

The latest proposals will be shared online, allowing local residents to voice their opinions on a dedicated hotline if they are unable to attend the sessions.

“A world-class arena has to work for the community so continual dialogue to understand priorities and concerns is a vital part of our feasibility process,” comments Mark Donnelly, OVG International’s chief operating officer.

“A clear objective is that a new arena must deliver a range of training and job opportunities for local residents, especially for young people”

“A clear objective is that a new arena must deliver a range of training and job opportunities for local residents, especially for young people. We also know that sustainable transport and venue management plans that minimise any impact to the community on event days are key priorities.

“During this next stage of consultations,” continues Donnelly, “we will provide an update on work underway to address community priorities, and we look forward to further feedback and inputs from East Manchester residents and businesses.”

Co-founded by former AEG CEO Tim Leiweke and ex-Live Nation chairman Irving Azoff, OVG launched its London-based overseas division, OVG International, at ILMC in March. The new Manchester arena would be the company’s first purpose-built venue in the UK, joining the Santa Giulia Arena in Milan as its second international project.

OVG has established a further presence in the UK and Europe through its International Venue Alliance, a network of independent entertainment and sports venues, which counts Silverstone Circuit, Birmingham’s NEC Group venues and Düsseldorf’s D.Live venues as members.

 


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OVG’s Venue Alliance gains first German members

Oak View Group (OVG) has announced another founding member of its International Venue Alliance, in the form of Dusseldorf-based venue operator D.Live.

The five D.Live member venues – the alliance’s first from continental Europe – are the Merkur Spiel-Arena (54,000-cap.), Iss Dome (13,000-cap.), Mitsubishi Electric Halle (7,500-cap.), Castello Dusseldorf (3,000-cap.) and outdoor cinema Alltours Kino.

The D.Live venues join the UK’s Silverstone Circuit and NEC Group venues as founding members of the alliance, which is modelled on OVG’s Arena and Stadium Alliance in the United States.

“We’re delighted to see the OVG International Venue Alliance develop and expand into continental Europe with the addition of the D.Live group of venues,” says OVG’s International president Sam Piccione.

“We’re delighted to see the OVG International Venue Alliance develop and expand into continental Europe with the addition of the D.Live group of venues”

“As with Silverstone and NEC Group,” continues Piccione, “we’ll be helping D.Live venues deliver world-class events, content and corporate partnerships. Dusseldorf is an important city in the live event space and we appreciate their trust and vision to join the OVG International Venue Alliance.”

D.Live CEO Michael Brill comments that the group’s membership to the International Venue Alliance “will ensure we grow our market position and we are looking forward to seeing the success of the Alliance as it develops.”

The partnership is the latest in a series of developments for OVG. Prior to launching its International Venue Alliance in September, OVG established its UK-based international division in March; announced its first European venue – the Santa Giulia arena in Milan in June; and confirmed its interest in building a major new concert venue in Manchester in August.

 


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OVG launches International Venue Alliance

Oak View Group (OVG) today launched the International Venue Alliance, a network of independent entertainment and sports venues modelled on its US Arena and Stadium Alliance.

Its founding member is Silverstone Circuit, the ‘home of British motor racing’, including the Formula 1 (F1) and MotoGP grands prix, in Northamptonshire, UK. It joins the alliance after signing a deal that ensures the F1 British grand prix remains at the circuit until at least 2024.

Silverstone’s two-year agreement with OVG will draw on the latter’s live entertainment expertise to attract high-profile events, including concerts and festivals, to the circuit, as well as securing it an annual naming-rights partner.

OVG will also oversee corporate partnerships at prominent locations around the circuit, including the bridge connecting its hotel to the wing, its 4,000-capacity conference and exhibition space, the new luxury Residences at Silverstone and the soon-to-open Silverstone Experience Centre.

Oak View Group, a venue development, advisory and investment company co-founded by former AEG CEO Tim Leiweke and ex-Live Nation chairman Irving Azoff, launched its London-based overseas division, OVG International, at ILMC in March. The first OVG International project, Santa Giulia Arena in Milan, was announced in June as a joint venture with Live Nation. (Interestingly, Liberty Media, which owns a third of Live Nation, also owns Formula 1.)

Last month OVG also confirmed it is in discussions to build a new indoor arena in Manchester in northern England, in a challenge to SMG’s incumbent Manchester Arena.

“We’re looking forward to working alongside other like-minded venues as they join the International Venue Alliance”

Sam Piccione, president of OVG International, says: “We’re delighted to be in a position to help Silverstone deliver additional revenue as a founding member of Oak View Group’s International Venue Alliance.

“This iconic circuit has a rich motorsports history, and we’re looking forward to working with the Silverstone team to develop world-leading content, partnerships and experiences during this next exciting phase of their development.”

“With Silverstone’s extended five-year contract to host the British Grand Prix now in place, the opportunities for partnerships with British and global brands are limitless,” adds Nick Read, commercial director at Silverstone.

“We are excited to be working with Oak View Group’s world-class team to expand our partner portfolio and reach, and we’re looking forward to working alongside other like-minded venues as they join the OVG International Alliance.”

Piccione says he expects new members of the International Venue Alliance will be confirmed in the months ahead.

The alliance is modelled on OVG’s Arena and Stadium Alliance, an invitation-only partnership of 28 arenas in North America. Arena and Stadium Alliance members benefit from global sponsorship opportunities, additional events and content, and “efficiencies of scale that are otherwise only available to large groups”, according to OVG.

 


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OVG announces new arena in southern California

Oak View Group and the Agua Caliente Band of the Cahuilla, a tribe of Indians native to the Coachella Valley, have announced plans for a new entertainment and sports arena in Palm Springs, California.

The project, which counts Live Nation as a strategic partner for events, will see the construction of an up-to-10,000-seat arena on 300,000sqft (27,870sqm) on Agua Caliente land in Palm Springs city centre. The new venue will be located to the north of the Agua Caliente Casino, also operated by the tribe.

“This is a unique partnership that will forever change the face of sports and entertainment in Palm Springs and the Coachella Valley,” says Jeff Grubbe, tribal chairman of the Agua Caliente Band. “We are creating a healthy community gathering place for Coachella Valley families and visitors from around the world to celebrate, play and experience diverse entertainment opportunities in a state-of-the-art arena.”

The privately funded Palm Springs arena comes amid a building boom for Tim Leiweke-led OVG, which is developing venues in Seattle, New York, Texas and, most recently, Milan, in its first international project.

In a tweet, OVG described its recent moves as representing “the most aggressive number of arena developments in the history of the industry”:

The Coachella Valley arena is expected to break ground in February 2020 and be open by autumn 2021. OVG and NHL (National Hockey League) Seattle have also jointly submitted an application for a 32nd American Hockey League (AHL) team, which would play in the new arena.

Other entertainment arenas in southern California include MSG’s 18,000-seat LA Forum, formerly co-owned by OVG’s Irving Azoff, and Staples Center (19,000-cap.) in Los Angeles, owned and operated by MSG/OVG arch-rival AEG.

“Oak View Group has consistently continued to raise the industry standard, and the arena in Palm Springs will be no exception”

Nearby Indio, meanwhile, is the site of AEG’s famed Coachella and Stagecoach festival.

“With each venue, we’ve had the privilege of building and managing, Oak View Group has consistently continued to raise the industry standard, and the arena in Palm Springs will be no exception,” says OVG CEO Leiweke. “We look forward to working with Agua Caliente to build what we consider to be one of the most premiere music and professional sports arenas in the world.”

Oak View Group, a venue development, advisory and investment company founded by former AEG CEO Leiweke and ex-Live Nation chairman Azoff, launched in 2015. In addition to its under-development arena projects, it runs the Arena and Stadium Alliance of 28 US venues.

It also has a venue-management outfit, OVG Facilities, launched in 2017 following the acquisition of Pinnacle Venue Services, and a security arm, Prevent Advisors, and owns industry trade titles Venues Today and Pollstar, the latter which it bought the same year.

“We’re pleased to be able to partner with Oak View Group and Agua Caliente for this new state-of-the-art arena,” comments Bob Roux, president of US concerts at Live Nation, “and look forward to bringing in top touring artists and live events to the Valley for years to come.”

 


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Oak View Group announces first international arena

Oak View Group (OVG) has partnered with Live Nation to build and run a new entertainment and sports arena in Milan, Italy.

The project is Oak View Group’s first venue development outside the US, and follows the launch of the company’s London-based overseas division, OVG International, at the ILMC in March.

OVG announced today it has signed a head of terms agreement with property companies Risanamento and Lendlease to construct and operate the new arena, which will be privately funded and located in Milan’s new Santa Giulia neighbourhood. Though no official figures have been released, IQ understands the venue could have a capacity of up to 17,000 for concerts.

The Santa Giulia Arena will provide a significant boost to Milan’s bid for the 2026 Winter Olympic and Paralympic games, and would host the Olympics’ ice hockey tournament, according to OVG co-founder and CEO Tim Leiweke.

“We’re delighted to announce our first European partnership, bringing a state-of-the-art entertainment facility to Milan,” Leiweke comments. “The new arena will be an exciting addition for the city and an important part of hosting what would be an inspiring 2026 Winter Olympics.

“Oak View Group and Live Nation have years of experience working together and are the ideal partners to deliver and run the Santa Giulia Arena.”

The Santa Giulia Arena will compete with the 12,700-seat Mediolanum Forum in Assago, near Milan, which has served the city since 1990 and is one of two Italian members of the European Arena Association (EAA).

“We look forward to announcing more European partnerships soon”

An older open-air venue, the 10,000-capacity Arena Civica, which opened in 1807, is also capable of hosting concerts, as is the 80,000-cap. San Siro stadium.

Oak View Group, a venue development, advisory and investment company co-founded by former AEG CEO Leiweke and ex-Live Nation chairman Irving Azoff, launched in 2015.

In addition to arena development projects at the Key Arena in Seattle, Belmont in New York and the University of Texas in Austin, OVG runs the Arena and Stadium Alliance, an invitation-only association of of 28 arenas in the United States.

It also has a venue-management outfit, OVG Facilities, launched in 2017 following the acquisition of Pinnacle Venue Services, and a security arm, Prevent Advisors, and owns industry trade titles Venues Today and Pollstar, the latter which it bought the same year.

“We’re looking forward to working with Risanamento and Lendlease as part of their major regeneration project,” adds Leiweke, “and to announcing more European partnerships soon.”

 


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OVG International launches in London

Oak View Group (OVG), the US-based venue development, advisory and investment company co-founded by former AEG CEO Tim Leiweke and ex-Live Nation chairman Irving Azoff, today launched its new international business at the International Live Music Conference in London.

OVG International, based in London and led by notables from the European venues world, is tasked with building arena and stadium development and partnership opportunities in the UK, Europe and the Middle East and Asia. According to OVG CEO Leiweke, OVG International is already in “advanced discussions” on a number of projects in those territories.

Jessica Koravos, president of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Really Useful Group, and formerly MD of AEG Live and COO of AEG Europe, will serve as co-chair of OVG International alongside Leiweke.

Other appointments include:

“Oak View Group is growing rapidly, and we’re delighted to welcome seven exceptional executives to our team as we launch OVG International,” says Leiweke.

“We look forward to extending the Arena and Stadium Alliance to like-minded venues outside North America”

“Our aim is to create a new generation of state-of-the-art entertainment facilities. Our venues will be an elite class in terms of fan experience, artist experience and technology, and will provide an unparalleled platform for the activation of global brands.”

Oak View Group was founded in 2015. In addition to its major arena development projects at the Key Arena in Seattle, Belmont in New York and the University of Texas in Austin, OVG runs the Arena and Stadium Alliance, an invitation-only partnership of 28 arenas in North America that seeks to help independent venues attract global sponsorship opportunities, additional events and content.

It also has a venue-management outfit, OVG Facilities, launched last October following the acquisition of Pinnacle Venue Services, and a security arm, Prevent Advisors, and owns industry trade titles Venues Today and Pollstar, the latter which it bought last summer.

“The live events market has grown significantly in the United States since Oak View Group launched three years ago, and we see a huge opportunity to drive similar growth internationally by creating world-class experiences in world-class arenas,” continues Leiweke.

“We look forward to extending the Arena and Stadium Alliance to like-minded venues outside North America and to announcing more about OVG International’s plans soon.”

 


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