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Joe Giordano named VP of Arena & Stadium Alliance

Oak View Group (OVG) has announced the appointment of booking veteran Joe Giordano as VP of the Arena & Stadium Alliance.

A collection of the top 38 venues in North America, the Alliance provides a united platform for booking, content development, procurement and sponsorship sales opportunities.

Giordano was previously with ASM Global, having spent six years as assistant general manager at the 19,199-seat BOK Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Prior to that, he was regional booking manager and developed content for 40-plus ASM venues.

He also serves on the board of directors for the International Entertainment Buyers Association (IEBA).

“I want to make sure every Alliance member continues to feel supported by the power of Oak View Group working on their behalf”

“Joe’s success has been driven by his deep relationships – with his colleagues and clients, as well as with top industry touring professionals, promoters, agents, artist management and athletic directors,” says Chris Granger, president of OVG360, the third-party, service-oriented division of OVG. “He’s an inclusive and proactive leader, focused on helping others succeed; he’s an expert negotiator, able to identify mutual wins; and he’s a master at content development, striking the perfect blend of strategy, creativity, and boldness.”

Giordano replaces Jeff Nickler, who is staying with the company as SVP and GM of OVG’s Moody Center in Austin, which is set to open next month.

“I know what it’s like to manage a building that must punch well above its weight to attract major shows. I know the importance of entrepreneurialism and creativity in our industry,” says Giordano. “I’m a building operator, and this business is personal to me. To this end, I understand the collective impact the Alliance yields, and I want to make sure every Alliance member continues to feel supported by the power of Oak View Group working on their behalf – from global partnerships to content and booking to an entire array of arena services.”

 


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US appointments: OVG360 and MSG Sphere name presidents

Oak View Group has named Gregory O’Dell as president of venue management at the company’s newly rebranded facilities division, OVG360.

O’Dell will oversee venue operations for more than 230 properties that OVG owns and/or operates globally, including stadiums and arenas, state fairgrounds, performing arts centres and convention centres.

His responsibilities will include setting a strategy to strengthen venue staples like sustainability efforts, booking and content development, premium and sponsorship sales, public safety and public health, and parking and transportation.

The live events veteran joins OVG from Events DC, where he was president and CEO since 2009 and oversaw three business lines (conventions and meetings, sports and entertainment, special events).

O’Dell is due to start his role in April and will be based in DC and Philadelphia, reporting to OVG360 CEO Chris Granger.

O’Dell will oversee venue operations for more than 230 properties that OVG owns and/or operates globally

Elsewhere, Lucas Watson, a seasoned executive with over 25 years of global experience accelerating growth and building brands, will join the MSG Sphere as president, effective 28 March.

In the new position, Watson will lead the strategy and execution of all business aspects of MSG Sphere and the company’s planned state-of-the-art venues.

The first MSG Sphere venue, MSG Sphere at The Venetian, is currently under construction in Las Vegas and is scheduled to open in the second half of calendar 2023.

Watson will oversee the global development of the MSG Sphere brand, including selectively extending the MSG Sphere network to other markets.

He will be based in Burbank, CA and report to James Dolan, executive chairman and chief executive officer, MSG Entertainment.

Watson most recently served as SVP commercial operations at Cruise, where he was responsible for leading the development of the commercial strategy and go-to-market operations plan for the self-driving car technology company.

 


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Ticketmaster condemns Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

Ticketmaster has “strongly condemned” Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has raged on for almost three weeks.

The ticketing giant follows in the footsteps of its parent company, Live Nation, which recently said it would not do business with Russia.

“Ticketmaster joins the world in strongly condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine,” a spokesperson from Ticketmaster tells IQ. “We are taking care of our employees in the region with assistance and support, and many of our markets, including Ticketmaster Poland, have started initiatives to support local non-profits assisting the crisis.

“The team is also working on a variety of concerts where money from ticket sales will be donated to foundations supporting Ukraine’s fight for freedom.”

Ticketmaster Poland is providing ticketing services for a number of concerts, from which the profits will be allocated to the Polish Medical Mission and carried out by humanitarian aid to the residents of Ukraine.

“The team is also working on a variety of concerts where money from ticket sales will be donated to foundations”

The concerts, organised by a number of domestic promoters, will take place across Poland between 4 April and 1 May, under the banner ‘Free Ukraine’. Fans can choose to pay between 75 PLN (€15) and 300 PLN (€63) for a ticket.

Ticketmaster, which is in 30+ countries worldwide, says it will announce global efforts early this week.

Ticketmaster and Live Nation aren’t the only live music behemoths that have denounced the actions of Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin.

Venue management and services company ASM Global, whose portfolio includes Moscow Convention Center and MTS Live Arena, says it “stands with the people of Ukraine and condemns Russia’s actions”.

Sports and entertainment firm Oak View Group (OVG) pledged to “not do business in or with Russia, nor serve Russian brands in any of our venues on a global basis, effective immediately”.

In the world of recorded music, all three major music companies (Universal, Sony, and Warner) have announced they are halting their own business activities in the market.

Other major music companies to take action include streaming platforms Spotify and Apple, publishers Kobalt Music Group and Downtown, and collection societies PRS For Music (UK), CISAC (France) and SoundExchange (US).

 


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OVG secures ‘industry-first’ Co-op Live deal

Oak View Group (OVG) has secured an “industry-first” debt financing to fund the construction of east Manchester’s new Co-op Live arena.

The £365 million, 23,500-cap venue – a JV between OVG and Manchester-based City Football Group (CFG), will become the UK’s first all-electric arena when it opens in late 2023. Harry Styles has also signed up as an investor.

It has now been announced that OVG and CFG have closed and funded a 27-year senior secured note and five-year senior secured credit facility for the project. The private non-recourse financing is said to be a first for a music-focused live entertainment facility without a professional sports anchor tenant.

“It shows the confidence in our business model and ability to deliver on a robust, year-round calendar of unparalleled music and other content”

Long term financing is provided by Apollo and Barings, supplemented by a five-year bank loan from JP Morgan. The deal is secured by Co-op Live and the cash flow generated by the arena over 27 years. The balance of funding towards construction is provided by Co-op Live’s shareholders.

“We’re proud to have closed this pioneering financing to help fund the development of Co-op Live, which will deliver one of the world’s best arenas to Manchester,” says Francesca Bodie, OVG’s president of business development. “It shows the confidence in our business model and ability to deliver on a robust, year-round calendar of unparalleled music and other content.”

The OVG team currently has 11 arena projects under development globally, with Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle and UBS Arena in New York both opening last year.

 


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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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