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Oak View Group completes Spectra acquisition

Oak View Group (OVG) has completed its acquisition of Philadelphia-based venue management firm Spectra.

The companies say the move, which was first announced in August and has now been given regulatory approval, creates “one world-class, full-service live events” organisation. Financial terms were not disclosed.

“Now that OVG’s acquisition of Spectra is complete, we can get down to the business of delivering an expanded highly competitive set of services that anticipate and meet the evolving needs of our global client base,” says Tim Leiweke, CEO of OVG. “We’ll begin the important process of fully integrating the talented team at Spectra and bringing together our two organisations to create something truly extraordinary in the live events and entertainment industry.”

OVG recently opened the Climate Pledge Arena at Seattle Center, and is also developing projects including UBS Arena in Belmont Park, NY; Moody Center in Austin, TX; New Arena in Coachella Valley, CA; Co-op Live in Manchester, UK; as well as arena projects in São Paulo, Brazil, and Hamilton, Ontario

The combined organisation will serve current and future clients with a “complete array of venue and hospitality services”.

Integration of the two companies is expected to begin immediately with Chris Granger at the helm beginning 1 December as the new CEO of OVG Facilities, a division of the Oak View Group focused on providing full-service venue management expertise, event programming, and now food & beverage solutions to arenas, stadiums and convention centres globally.

As the needs and uses of these venues continue to evolve, we will be there, with our clients, leading the way

“Venues are incredible community assets, the very last town square, perhaps the remaining place where diverse people gather to laugh, to cheer, to sing, to dance, to dine, to conduct business, to protest, or to vote en masse,” says Granger.

“As the needs and uses of these venues continue to evolve, we will be there, with our clients, leading the way. We will respect the planet; we will mirror the diversity of the many communities in which we do business; and we will provide our fans and our clients with extraordinary service, indelible memories, and easy confidence in knowing that we can again, and forever, gather safely.”

Spectra will fold its 330 top-tier clients across North America and the globe – including stadiums, arenas, convention centres, performing arts centres, fairgrounds, and casinos – into the newly merged company.

Dave Scott, chairman and CEO of Comcast Spectacor, adds: “The combined strength, energy, and expertise of OVG and Spectra has created a dynamic company, the likes of which the industry has not yet experienced. The leadership team has a powerful vision for growth, which will bode well for their collective clients, employees, and partners. As Spectacor Events & Entertainment continues to partner on content development, I look forward to watching the company grow and prosper.”

OVG will remain headquartered in Los Angeles, with Spectra’s HQ remaining in Philadelphia.

 


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Harry Styles show to launch OVG’s New York arena

Harry Styles has been confirmed as the first music artist to perform at Oak View Group’s new UBS Arena at Belmont Park, New York.

Styles’ show at the 19,000-cap venue, which will be the finale of the his 2021 Love On Tour, will take place on Sunday, 28 November. The concert will spearhead the building’s opening month celebrations, with numerous other events planned throughout November.

Home to the National Hockey League’s New York Islanders, the US$1.1 billion multi-purpose arena will host more than 150 major events annually, with other acts lined up to appear over the coming months including Eric Church, Genesis, Imagine Dragons, Tool, Journey, John Mayer and New Kids on the Block.

UBS Arena intends on being carbon neutral for operations before 2024, which will make it the first arena to do so on the eastern US seaboard.

UBS Arena is poised to become a global landmark entertainment and sports destination

The redevelopment project, which Oak View Group (OVG) is working on in collaboration with the New York Islanders and Sterling Project Development, is expected to create 10,000 construction jobs and 3,000 permanent jobs, generating approximately $25bn in economic activity over the term of the lease.

“UBS Arena is poised to become a global landmark entertainment and sports destination, leading us to partner with one of the world’s premier brands, UBS,” Tim Leiweke, CEO of OVG and leader of the arena project, said earlier this year.

UBS Arena will celebrate its opening with a ribbon cutting ceremony on 19 November, ahead of its official opening with the New York Islanders’ home opener against the Calgary Flames the following day.

Ground was broken on the project on in September 2019 and halted in March 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. Work started back up two months later on 27 May.

Styles has made an investment in OVG’s Co-op Live development in his hometown of Manchester, UK. The development will become the UK’s first all-electric arena when it opens in 2023.

 


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Co-op Live to become UK’s first all-electric arena

Oak View Group’s new east Manchester development Co-op Live will become the UK’s first all-electric arena when it opens in 2023.

Against the backdrop of the COP26 climate summit, OVG says the venue has been designed “with sustainability at its core”, and will use electricity for everything from air-source heat pumps for heating and domestic hot water through to cooling and catering, without any gas supply serving the site.

The company adds that the current design achieves over 50% reduction in energy usage compared to a similar arenas, largely due to moving away from using gas boilers. Rooftop solar panels will be used to power day-to-day activity, with green electricity from the grid topping up capacity for events. The avoidance of on-site fuel burning, meanwhile, will significantly improve air quality.

“Climate change is the single largest problem facing the planet today and we take our responsibility in creating a greener world seriously,” says Mark Donnelly, COO, OVG International.

The design will enable a 23% reduction in carbon emissions and, by building electric-based infrastructure from the very beginning, the arena will be on track towards achieving net zero carbon by Manchester City Council’s 2038 target.

We are building a planet-friendly venue as well as one capable of hosting the world’s best events

“In Co-op Live, we are building a planet-friendly venue as well as one capable of hosting the world’s best events,” adds Donnelly. “I’m proud that it’s going to be the UK’s first all-electric arena and we’re also implementing a range of other features including solar panels, rainwater harvesting, and extensive green spaces to make sure it’s the UK’s most sustainable.”

It was confirmed last year that Harry Styles has made an investment in the the 23,500-capacity venue, which will be built on the Etihad Campus, the site of Manchester City FC’s Etihad Stadium in Eastlands.

Co-op Live will be the UK’s biggest arena and is around one year into its build phase. The project will inject £350 million of private investment into the local area.

Similar to how Battersea Power Station has been reinvented in London, OVG predicts that Co-op Live will serve as “an iconic landmark for the transformation and reimagination of post-industrial urban landscapes in the north”, upon completion.

 


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Oak View Group plants first flag in Canada

Oak View Group (OVG) is making its first foray into Canada with a brand new partnership, which will serve as the launching point for a Canadian office.

The global sports and entertainment company is partnering with Hamilton Urban Precinct Entertainment Group (HUPEG) on the redevelopment of the downtown arts and entertainment district in Hamilton, Ontario.

This will include the renovation of the FirstOntario Centre (cap. 19,000), which will be privately funded with more than CA$50 million.

Construction at the arena is anticipated to begin in the autumn of 2022 and take place over two years in two phases.

Internationally renowned arena architect BBB, who managed the renovation of Madison Square Garden in New York City, will lead the arena renovation design.

“We believe Hamilton is the perfect market to plant our first OVG Canada flag”

OVG, which has offices in Los Angeles, New York, London, and Philadelphia, says the deal will kickstart the company’s Canadian operations.

Tim Leiweke, CEO of OVG, and former past president of Canada’s Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment commented, “I have been very fortunate in my career to be part of the Toronto community and call Canada home. I saw first-hand the continued growth in the Toronto Metro area, and we believe Hamilton in particular, needs a venue that reflects the growth, great fans, and community thus requiring that new facilities are developed and new opportunities are created.

“We believe Hamilton is the perfect market to plant our first OVG Canada flag and will be a venue that compliments Toronto and the Scotia Bank Arena [cap. 19,800]. We think there is a need, an opportunity to transform the current arena and we are extremely excited to be partners with the City of Hamilton and HUPEG on their vision.”

OVG is also leading the redevelopment and operations of Climate Pledge Arena at Seattle Center as well as leading arena development projects for UBS Arena in Belmont Park, New York; Moody Center in Austin, Texas; New Arena in Coachella Valley, CA; and Co-op Live in Manchester, UK.

 


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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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Ticketmaster inks global ticketing deal with OVG

Ticketmaster will provide digital ticketing technology for six Oak View Group (OVG) arenas as part of a new global partnership between the two firms.

“OVG is setting a new standard for arenas with world-class hospitality and state-of-the-art technology. Their portfolio boasts some of the most modern and progressive new venues in the world,” says Mark Yovich, president of Ticketmaster. “Through our leading-edge ticketing technology, Ticketmaster will help OVG deliver premium fan experiences for sports fanatics and music lovers.”

The partnership includes New York’s UBS Arena; Seattle’s Climate Pledge Arena; Austin’s Moody Center; Coachella Valley Arena in Palm Desert, California; Savannah Arena in Georgia; and Co-op Live in Manchester, UK, with the OVG venues able to call on “Ticketmaster’s digital technology to provide the industry leading tools needed to operate and adapt to the needs of concerts, games and other events”, say the partners.

This includes ‘Ticketing Concierge’, a contactless box office powered by Ticketmaster’s TM1 product suite which enables all ticketing transactions, account support, refunds and ‘will-call’ (on-the-door tickets) to be handled digitally, reducing the need for physical interactions between fans and staff.

“We know what a strong partner Ticketmaster is when it comes to bringing that premium ticketing experience to fans, and we look forward to partnering with them”

Venues equipped with Ticketing Concierge may admit fans through contactless scanners, with digital tickets accessed on their mobile devices, providing faster entry.

The venues may also implement new capabilities for contactless payment, mobile ordering and in-venue experiences via the Ticketmaster app, says the company.

“Ticketmaster is the best ticketing system in the world, and we’re pleased to offer their industry-leading technology across all of our world-class venues,” says Tim Leiweke, CEO of Oak View Group. “We know what a strong partner Ticketmaster is when it comes to bringing that premium ticketing experience to fans, and we look forward to partnering with them to bring the biggest artists and sporting events as we return to live.”

The deal with OVG follows the signing of a new agreement by Ticketmaster with ASM Global (formerly SMG/AEG Facilities) across its venues in North America.

 


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OVG helps develop safe-venue certification ahead of reopening

Oak View Group (OVG) has partnered with Sharecare, an Atlanta-based health company, and CAA’s Icon division to launch a new hygiene certification for venues that aims to boost fan confidence and mitigate risks associated with Covid-19.

Sharecare’s Verified ‘health security’ certification programme, which provides a Covid-secure seal of approval for hotels and other tourism businesses, will now be extended to events venues through the partnership with OVG, which operates or is building arenas in North America, the UK and continental Europe, and CAA Icon, the agency’s venue consulting arm.

To achieve verification from Sharecare, venue operators must meet certain standards across 600 venue ‘checkpoints’, explains the company, including building preparation, the fan journey, sanitisation and cleaning, and air circulation. The process is navigated via a chatbot-enabled screener, which also offers other relevant guidance, including the US’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations and requirements for sports leagues.

After completion of the process, stadia, arenas and other public venues earn Sharecare’s Verified badge. Atlanta’s 21,000-capacity State Farm Arena became the first venue to achieve this designation, in January 2021.

“We’re pleased to align ourselves with Sharecare as we prioritise safety”

“As we begin to see the industry reopen, bringing innovation to the sports and entertainment industry that sets a new standard for the health and safety of fans, artists and staff must be a top priority,” says Oak View Group CEO Tim Leiweke. “We’re pleased to align ourselves with Sharecare as we prioritise safety so all who enter live entertainment venues can feel comfortable and confident in attending sporting events and concerts once again.”

“We were drawn to Sharecare because of their ability to customise their verification platform for this unique building type and their willingness to commit the time to do so,” adds Tim Romani, chairman of CAA Icon. “This allowed us to interactively collaborate on the technology so that it is flexible for changing protocols, league requirements, and clinical recommendations.”

In addition to State Farm Arena, the new venue-focused Sharecare Verified platform was trialled with two under-construction arenas, OVG’s Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle and UBS Arena in New York, both of which have also adopted the Verified Solution.

“Whether resuming activities or building next-generation event experiences, we’re proud to deliver stadiums and arenas a flexible solution precisely designed to align with their operational needs, yet easily configured to best practices, as well as league and public health protocols as they evolve,” comments Hermann Elger, executive vice-president of travel, entertainment and health security for Sharecare. “We’re grateful for the support of CAA Icon and OVG in bringing this high-tech, high-touch solution to venues worldwide to enable visitors a safe and sustainable return to live event experiences.”

 


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Tim Leiweke: “Climate change is the fight of our lives”

Oak View Group (OVG) co-founder and chief executive Tim Leiweke has issued a call to arms for the live entertainment industry to take action on climate change.

“Climate change is without a doubt the fight of this generation’s lives,” he tells IQ. “At OVG, we believe that we, along with the whole live entertainment industry, have a unique opportunity to inspire others to take action on this era-defining issue,” adding that sustainability is one of OVG’s core values.

The global sports and entertainment company, along with ecommerce giant Amazon, is a few months out from opening the world’s first carbon neutral venue, Climate Pledge Arena (CPA) in Seattle.

“It hasn’t been easy, but I’m proud and excited that CPA will become the world’s first certified carbon neutral arena when it opens later this year. It’s also going to lead the way with commitments to zero waste from events and using recycled rainwater to service the NHL ice-rink,” explains Leiweke.

OVG and Amazon have set their sights on the 18,100-seat arena becoming ‘the most progressive, responsible, and sustainable arena in the world’ – a commitment underpinned by four goals.

The first goal is to maintain CPA’s carbon elimination by eschewing fossil fuel consumption for daily use; generating renewable energy from onsite solar panels; reducing all carbon emission activities and offsetting those not possible – like transportation – by purchasing credible carbon offsets.

“We have a unique opportunity to inspire others to take action on this era-defining issue”

CPA will also aim to eliminate single use plastics and achieve zero waste by ‘greatly simplifying the supply chain’.

Finally, the arena, home to ice hockey team NHL Seattle, will conserve water via its ‘rain to rink’ system which will harvest water off the roof and collect into a 15,000-gallon cistern. According to OVG, the system will save 50,000 gallons annually.

Other ways the CPA will conserve water include waterless urinals and ‘ultra-efficient’ showers, significant on-site retention tanks reducing stormwater runoff and water bottle filling stations throughout the arena.

Beyond this the CPA will have an advisory committee with partners at Amazon; create transparency and public reporting on initiatives progress; host arena events that celebrate the environment and its commitment to green operations; partner with educational institutions to utilise the arena as a classroom for environmental education.

Leiweke says that OVG is taking the learnings from CPA to guide future projects: “All of our arenas in both the US and around the world, from the UBS Arena in New York to Co-op Live in Manchester, are putting sustainability at the heart of both design and operations”.

If all goes according to plan, the UBS Arena (cap. 19,000) in Belmont Park, New York, won’t be far behind CPA in achieving a carbon-neutral status.

The arena, scheduled to open in time for the 2021-2022 National Hockey League season, is projected to be 100% carbon neutral by 2024 – which will make it the first to do so on the East Coast of the US.

“Climate Pledge Arena is going to lead the way with commitments to zero waste from events”

The UBS Arena is currently being built to achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design for New Construction (Leed) standards.

Elsewhere, Manchester’s Co-op Live (cap. 23,500) is leading the way for environmentally sustainable arenas in the UK, both in terms of design and future commitments.

The roof alone boasts 10,500 square-metres (1.5x a football pitch) of rooftop solar panels, air source heat pumps, high spec insulation and façade designed to reduce cooling and heating requirements.

The venue’s architecture is paired with renewable energy, low carbon technologies and intelligent building controls such as LED lighting design and smart building systems to minimise energy use).

Plus, in a bid to meet Manchester City Council’s 2038 net zero carbon goal, the venue is also using 100% electric fuel.

Taking note from CPA, Co-op Live will also use 100% rainwater harvesting for toilet flushing, bathroom use and water efficient catering, and will aim to be zero waste.

The Co-op Live development is targeting Breeam (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method) ‘excellent’ accreditation.

Other arenas OVG is currently developing include Moody Center, Austin; Coachella Valley Arena, Palm Springs; Savannah Arena; Cardiff Bay Arena; and Santa Guilia, Milan.

 


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Co-op Live Manchester makes senior hires

Co-op Live, the upcoming arena in Manchester, UK, has made its first three senior hires.

The appointments, announced today for International Women’s Day (8 March), are Sara Tomkins, who is the venue’s new marketing and CSR (corporate social responsibility) director; Katie Musham, who has been appointed head of partnerships; and Becci Thomson, who been named Co-op Live’s sales director.

The 23,500-capacity Co-op Live, which is being developed by Tim Leiweke-led Oak View Group (OVG), will become the UK’s largest arena when it opens in 2023. Construction is due to begin this spring.

Tomkins brings more than 20 years of brand-building in Manchester to the role, having formerly served as chief executive of GreaterSport, destination director for Marketing Manchester and assistant chief executive for marketing, communications and customer services at Manchester City Council.

“Our initial senior hires … demonstrate OVG’s plans to appoint talented women to key senior positions across the group”

Musham has over 15 years’ experience working in venues in the UK and Australia, with previous roles at Wembley Arena, the O2 London, Perth Arena and Sydney’s SCG, while Thomson formerly led sales for special events at the O2 in London.

Jessica Koravos, co-chairperson of OVG International, says: “In Co-op Live we want to deliver a venue that brings the best possible experiences for fans and artists, while also making a positive impact on the local community and the planet around us.

“Our initial senior hires reflect our ambition to assemble an industry-leading team at Co-op Live and also demonstrate OVG’s plans to appoint talented women to key senior positions across the group as part of OVG’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.”

“At OVG, we’re building exceptional teams at all of our venues around the world,” says Ann Jackson, chief people and culture officer of OVG. “I’m delighted to see three outstanding women join the Co-op Live team as our first recruits, and look forward to them helping deliver a new kind of arena that has diversity, inclusivity and sustainability at its heart.”

 


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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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