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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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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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Coldplay to open OVG’s Climate Pledge Arena

Coldplay will be the first act to play Oak View Group’s (OVG) Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle – the world’s first carbon-neutral certified arena.

The band’s frontman, Chris Martin, previously told BBC News that Coldplay would put touring plans on hold as they investigate how to make their concerts more sustainable.

“Our next tour will be the best possible version of a tour like that environmentally,” said Coldplay frontman, Chris Martin.

“We would be disappointed if it’s not carbon neutral. The hardest thing is the flying side of things. But, for example, our dream is to have a show with no single-use plastic, to have it largely solar-powered. We’ve done a lot of big tours at this point. How do we turn it around so it’s not so much taking as giving?”

The band will fulfil their dream by performing at the 18,100-seat Climate Pledge Arena, which will be powered exclusively by renewable energy sources.

The arena will also be a functionally zero-waste building from day one and will eliminate all single-use plastics by 2024.

“We’re so excited to have Coldplay who wholeheartedly believes in and supports sustainability efforts, be the first to play”

Coldplay, along with support act We Are King, will perform at the former KeyArena on 22 October, marking the official reopening.

Tickets go on sale on 15 September at 10:00 PST through Ticketmaster. Amazon Music will also be streaming the show live on Prime Video for all customers – with or without a Prime membership – as well as Twitch, and on the Amazon Music app.

Oak View Group CEO, Tim Leiweke, says: “We’ve embarked on what some may say was an impossible journey to turn this historic landmark into a world-class net-zero carbon certified arena that’s first of its kind. This is why we’re so excited to have Coldplay who wholeheartedly believes in and supports sustainability efforts, be the first to play in the building for what will be a night to remember.”

The concert will be the first public show at Climate Pledge Arena as a part of a weeklong opening celebration across the Seattle Center Campus.

Other opening week festivities include the VenuesNow Conference (hosted by OVG), a ribbon-cutting ceremony and Seattle Kraken’s inaugural home opener marking its first season.

Today’s news follows Leiweke’s call to arms for the live entertainment industry to take action on climate change. Read the full IQ interview here.

 


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Wasserman revels in branding opportunities for artists

New live music power player Casey Wasserman believes his company’s experience in working with brands will be the number one opportunity for its many new artist clients, following its multi-billion dollar acquisition of the Paradigm Talent Agency’s American assets.

As chairman and CEO of Wasserman Media Group (and the president of the Los Angeles Olympic organising committee), which includes newly rebranded Wasserman Music, he said buying Paradigm at a time when there is no live music was an easy gamble. “To be able to buy an agency that had scale, like Paradigm’s US business – and the UK business is not far behind for us – was a unique opportunity,” Wasserman told delegates at Pollstar Live! yesterday (17 June).

“Timing is luck. We didn’t buy a music business because we could get it cheap. We bought a music business because we believe in the music business – and we believe in it for the next 20 years – and opportunity to own a business with a great group of people and a great set of clients fits with how we think about the world.”

Appearing on stage alongside Oak View Group CEO Tim Leiweke and C3 Presents’ head promoter and talent buyer Amy Corbin, during the conference’s final keynote conversation (Reviving Live, What’s Next?), Wasserman said adding close to 50 music agents to his company’s existing 130 sports agents was a great deal.

“On the work we do for our brands, music is a big platform – it’s artist driven, it’s event driven, it’s festival driven, it’s building driven,” he stated. “The science behind what makes dollars valuable in the sports world and the music world and the cultural landscape is very similar, and we think one of the big opportunities that we have is that we are amongst the leaders in helping brands spend their dollars. I think it’s the biggest single opportunity for artists from the connectivity inside our company. Our ability to understand what the brands want and what the artists will do, and bring those two together, will create a lot of value for the artists.”

Noting the company’s strengths in data analytics, Wasserman added, “As our team likes to say, ‘the world is drowning in data and starving for insight.’ We think the insights we can offer on top of the data that everyone spews is as valuable to an artist as it is to an athlete or it is to a brand, and we’ve already started to do that. Most of the time I’ve spent with our agents is in thinking about brand connectivity and brand relationships, and for us that always starts from the data.”

“We think the insights we can offer on top of the data that everyone spews is as valuable to an artist as it is to an athlete”

Leading the panel, Oak View Group’s Francesca Leiweke-Bodie congratulated C3’s Corbin on selling out 450,000 tickets for Austin City Limits in record time. Corbin admitted that working from home was akin to being “in an isolation chamber,” unable to bounce ideas off her team, making the challenges of organising this year’s event considerable. “We had no idea that we would sell out in just three hours. The appetite was insatiable, and that’s promising for our industry.”

She added that with such C3 events as Lollapalooza to organise, amidst a tour landscape that will be the busiest ever in 2022 and 2023, her team are already working on festivals well into the future. “The traffic I’m seeing in 2022 is pretty crazy, so we’re being forced to get out ahead of it and at least secure the headliners… the sooner we can get started the better.”

Meanwhile, with seven arenas due to open in the next 18 months, Oak View Group’s Leiweke revealed they will announce “about ten more” in the near future. And with Seattle’s Climate Pledge Arena set to open in October, Leiweke took the chance to speak about the sustainability challenge that the music industry is facing.

“We have about a ten-year window where if we don’t solve our planet and sustainability, and what we’re doing to ourselves, the whole Earth is going to disappear one day,” warned Leiweke.

Applauding Amazon chief Jeff Bezos for coming up with the idea of a carbon-neutral arena, Leiweke continued, “Climate Pledge [Arena] is the first step; UBS Arena will also be carbon neutral, but will take more time as we have existing utilities we have to deal with. But we are committed ultimately now to make sure that for our industry we are a platform and we’re going to invite everyone up in October so we can share with you everything we’ve learned about how we can be carbon neutral, how we can help make this Earth a little bit better, and how we can lead the charge at making everyone understand that we have a few years to change this and if we don’t, we’re going to lose this battle.”

On a more upbeat note, Leiweke concluded that the industry’s recovery from the pandemic lockdown looks like it could be phenomenal.

“The amount of content that’s going to be out there is going to be spectacular and the amount of demand is the best we’ve ever seen,” Leiweke noted. “There’s new leadership and a new direction on how we ultimately maximise the value of touring for an artist by thinking outside the box. I think we’re now living in the golden age for live entertainment.”

 


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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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ILMC 33: The Open Forum reflects on the year that wasn’t

Fresh off the back of the worst year in the history of the live music business, a quartet of industry titans put their heads together to figure out where we go from here for ILMC’s traditional opening session, the Open Forum, which moved to a mid-afternoon time slot for this year’s one-off digital edition.

Live Nation’s executive president of international touring, Phil Bowdery, kicked off the panel in a different way to usual. “We normally start off this session by talking about the year’s biggest grosses,” he said, before asking panellists how they’d spent the past year in the absence of selling hundreds of thousands of tickets.

Emma Banks, agent and co-head of CAA in the UK, summed up the mood when she said “we’ve all been busy fools”, rearranging tours and shows with no knowledge of when live music might be able to return. “Anybody that claims they know when we’ll be able to do international tours, they know something the rest of the world does not,” echoed Tim Leiweke, CEO of Oak View Group. “This thing has its own path of destruction it has to reap, and we’re going to have to be patient.”

When the time is right, “we have to open up globally,” said Jay Marciano, CEO of AEG Presents. “There was a time last year when everyone was experimenting but socially distanced shows, but at 50% [capacity] we realised we’d basically paid for the lights and the stagehands and then not made any money. And it takes away from the live experience.”

Referring to the number of fans who have kept their tickets for postponed events, Marciano added that he’s been struck by “how patient our fans have been”.

“I want to open up – I have $5 billion invested in nine new arenas. But in order to open up we have to have an agreement [as to when], because if one of us opens up too early it’ll affect the rest of us, too.”

“We’re still losing 2,000 people a day in the United States to this virus. So we need to hunker down” until it’s safe to reopen, he added.

“I’ve never seen this kind of demand … We’re going to get through this”

While “Covid has been horrendous”, there have been upsides to 2020’s time out, said Banks. “One thing that has been good is no planes – hopefully that’s been helping the planet we’ve been wrecking,” she explained. “Travel represents a tiny amount of carbon emissions, but – without taking away the gig – what we’ve learnt with Zoom, Webex, Teams, etc., is that we don’t need all the meetings we have, which we fly all over the world for often, often only for a day. We need to rethink what we’re doing.”

She also highlighted that artists have had time for other projects, whether its working on a book or starting a podcast, because they haven’t been on the road.

Both Leiweke and Marciano also pointed to advances in new technology such as 5G while touring has been on pause. “Technology didn’t take a year and a half off,” said Leiweke. When shows return, “we’re going to be see brand-new technology that will enhance the experience but won’t replace it”, he added.

Whenever it is live returns, none of the panellists were in any doubt about fans’ continued passion for live music, referencing the incredible pent-up demand for shows that has been building throughout 2020/21.

“There’s a whole load of catching up to do,” said Banks. “But it will be OK.”

“I’ve never seen this kind of demand. [For 2021] we have 180 holds in our new arena in New York already,” added Leiweke. “We’re going to get through this.”

Tickets for ILMC 33, which include all panels available to watch back until 5 April 2021, are still available. Click here for more information.

 


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OVG, Amazon team up for first carbon neutral arena

The former KeyArena in Seattle is to become the first carbon neutral venue in the world, powered exclusively by renewable energy sources.

Ecommerce giant Amazon announced it had secured the naming rights to the 18,100-seat arena yesterday (25 June). The venue, home to ice hockey team NHL Seattle, is to be known as the Climate Pledge Arena.

The online retailer has pledged to make the venue the first-ever net zero carbon certified arena when it opens in summer 2021, with zero waste production, ice made from reclaimed rain water, locally sourced food and an elimination of single use plastics by 2024.

The project, a joint collaboration between Amazon, NHL Seattle and venue operator Oak View Group (OVG) – which is funding the reconstruction of arena – has reportedly reached the $1 billion mark, partly due to the upgrades required to achieve carbon neutral status.

OVG has hired Seattle architect Jason McLennan, a specialist in sustainable design, as chief sustainability consultant for the arena.

“It’s not just about one arena. It’s the platform,” says OVG CEO Tim Leiweke, who is leading the arena development efforts.

“We must take steps to build arenas and stadiums that front-and-centre align with our zero-carbon mission statement”

“We challenge music, facilities, concert tours, and sports. It is our time to step up to face the challenge of our generation. We must take steps to build arenas and stadiums that front-and-centre align with our zero-carbon mission statement.”

“Instead of negotiating the assets, we’ve been brainstorming: What if we did this? What if we did that?” adds Tim’s brother, Tod Leiweke, president and CEO of NHL Seattle.

“Every day, we get to promote this idea of a sustainable world. It’s a beautiful vision, that we can change the course of what’s happened to our planet and dream of having a zero-carbon footprint. It’s going to require investment and policy, but it’s absolutely possible.”

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos says the arena’s name is to serve as “a regular reminder of the importance of fighting climate change”.

“We look forward to working together with Oak View Group, a new Climate Pledge signatory, and NHL Seattle to inspire global climate action,” says Bezos.

Amazon created its climate pledge last year with activist group Global Optimism, pushing for corporate America to achieve net zero carbon by 2040. Current signatories include Verizon, Infosys and consumer-goods giant Reckitt Benckiser Group (RB).

Earlier this week, Amazon announced the Climate Pledge Fund, a US$2 billion venture capital fund dedicated to investing in clean energy.

 


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OVG chief joins Well entertainment venues advisory

Tim Leiweke, CEO of Oak View Group, has been named a co-chair of the Well Advisory on Sports and Entertainment Venues, the advisory group behind a new rating system that aims to help venues reopen safely in a post-Covid-19 world.

The Well Health-Safety Rating for Facility Operations and Management, an initiative of the International Well Building Institute (IWBI), is an “evidence-based, third-party verified rating focusing on operational policies, cleaning protocols and design strategies to address a post-Covid-19 environment”, according to its creators. The rating – which draws on guidance from the World Health Organization, US government agencies including Centers for Disease Control and the National Institutes of Health, and IWBI’s own Covid-19 taskforce, among others – will also apply to theatres, offices, hotels, restaurants, schools and retail businesses.

“Given the current challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, the sports and entertainment industries are going to be changed forever,” says Leiweke, whose Oak View Group is developing venues in Milan, Manchester and Seattle, among other cities, and is partnered with many more through its International Arena Alliance.

“We’re pleased to help lead the reopening of venues with the International Well Building Institute, the world’s leading standard bearer and certifying body for healthy buildings, and to provide guidance on how best to ensure people can return safely to sports and entertainment facilities this year.”

“We’re pleased to help lead the reopening of venues with the International Well Building Institute”

Leiweke is one of seven co-chairs of the entertainment and sports group, alongside the likes of Doug Behar, director of stadium operations for the New York Yankees, Tim Romani, CEO of venue consultancy CAA Icon, and former US surgeon-general Richard Carmona.

“We look forward to working with IWBI and the other partnering companies to ensure the industry has the necessary tools, training and world-class industry standards to offer both a secure and welcoming environment for all players, artists, touring personnel, venue employees and fans,” adds Leiweke.

OVG’s backing for the Well Health-Safety Rating follows rival venue group ASM Global’s unveiling of its own in-house reopening protocols, called VenueShield, in May. Live Nation is also believed to be close to revealing a how it will make its venues safe after coronavirus; sources tell IQ its VenueShield equivalent will be “best in class”.

Participation in the Well Health-Safety Rating programme, which launches in June, will require the submission of policies, protocols and strategies for review by a third party, as well as annual compliance verification, according to IWBI. Current Well-registered ‘healthy buildings’ will be able to earn the Well Health-Safety Rating as part of their existing certification.

“I believe this collective group will accomplish what the sports and entertainment sectors and other market sectors are seeking”

“Restoring the sports and entertainment sectors is among the most complicated challenges that the Covid-19 pandemic has engendered, socially and biologically. And doing so is also among the most desired goals with the public,” says Allen Hershkowitz, chairman of Sport and Sustainability International and environmental science advisor to the New York Yankees. “IWBI’s effort to help provide confidence to all stakeholders – from fans, audiences, players and performers to staff and the medical community at large – that a sports or entertainment venue is taking proper, verifiable precautions is of the utmost importance.”

Mike Biggs, VP of sports and entertainment partnerships for cleaning company Jani-King, adds: “When it comes to disinfecting and cleanliness of sports and entertainment venues and assisting in securing peace of mind with the public, the two things we have heard most often are the desire for industry consensus and the backing of science.

“With the support and expertise of IWBI and the group of leaders assembled to date and joining us in the coming weeks, I believe this collective group will accomplish what the sports and entertainment sectors and other market sectors are seeking.”

 


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OVG’s Manchester arena plans progress amid Covid-19

Venue development company Oak View Group (OVG) has published the planning documents for its new arena in Manchester, which it estimates will bring 750,000 to 1.05 million additional arena ticket sales annually to the city.

OVG today (2 April) announced the appointment of the Royal BAM Group (BAM) as its preferred construction partner, and Populous, the architecture design firm behind Tottenham Hotspur’s new stadium, the O2 and Wembley Stadium, as the architect of the new arena.

The progression of the plans for the 23,500-capacity arena, which would be the largest privately financed venue in the UK, with £350 million direct investment going into the city, indicates OVG’s commitment to moving the project forward despite the ongoing coronavirus crisis.

OVG – the global sports and entertainment company founded by Tim Leiweke and Irving Azoff in 2015 – confirmed its plans for the new Manchester arena last month. The venue will go head to head with the existing ASM Global-operated Manchester Arena (21,000-cap.). An ASM Global spokesperson says it is “unfortunate” that the planning application for the new arena has been submitted “at an extremely challenging time for our city”.

“We live in unprecedented times and we stand in solidarity with everyone affected by this disease,” comments Tim Leiweke, co-founder and CEO of OVG. “We obviously have a particular concern for those who work in the live entertainment industry, which is hugely impacted by the current situation. But I know Manchester, and this city has always come back stronger from whatever has hit it. We are 100% committed for the long-haul.

“The city has undergone transformational growth in recent years, but without a new state-of-the-art arena it will continue to lose out to other cities on some of the world’s best events.”

“I know Manchester, and this city has always come back stronger from whatever has hit it”

The design brief for the arena, explains Leiweke, has three main aims – to deliver “the best artist-fan experience of any arena in Europe”, to have the flexibility to accommodate multiple event types, and to be “the most sustainable arena in the UK”.

OVG also states that the arena will generate 3,350 jobs during construction and over 1,000 once opened, paying Manchester Living Wage or higher.

“We’re incredibly grateful for the guidance and feedback from local people and the city’s business community over the last seven months. We are confident the plans we are presenting today are extremely beneficial for the city and will put Manchester on the global entertainment map for decades.”

Leiweke says that studies have indicated Manchester’s capacity to support two successful arenas, “even under the most conservative growth projections”.

The potential saturation of Manchester’s large arena market was discussed at the International Live Music Conference in March. Tom Lynch of ASM Global maintained that comments around Manchester’s capacity for two arenas have been “wildly misunderstood”, whereas OVG’s Brian Kabatznick offered Birmingham as an example of a UK city that “has seen a lot of success with two arenas”.

“Two 20,000-capacity arenas in Manchester are not sustainable and will drive events and footfall to an out of town location”

Birmingham’s Resorts World Arena, which is part of the National Exhibition Centre (NEC) site, last month outlined plans to increase its capacity by a further 6,000 to 21,500.The neighbouring NEC is one of a number of UK venues serving as field hospitals as the country copes with the coronavirus crisis.

“We are carefully reviewing the application documents that have been put forward alongside claims OVG has previously made around the impact to Greater Manchester’s transport, environment and economy,” reads an ASM Global statement.

“Existing independent analysis on market demand from Oxford Economics and Grant Thornton is clear; that two 20,000 capacity arenas in Manchester are not sustainable and will drive events and footfall to an out of town location, with devastating effects to the city centre economy and the region’s air quality.”

According to ASM, where two arenas do exist in the same city – as is the case in London and Birmingham – either one or both of the venues are “significantly smaller” than Manchester Arena.

“We sincerely hope that despite being submitted at a time of national crisis when attention is understandably focused on life saving efforts, this application will still receive proper scrutiny. We would urge the Council to carefully consider whether now is the time to approve plans that will further jeopardise our city centre.

“We need to stand together to protect culture, entertainment and hospitality in the heart of Manchester.”

 


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NEC Group joins OVG’s International Venue Alliance

Oak View Group (OVG) has welcomed the UK’s NEC Group to its newly formed International Venue Alliance, making the Birmingham-based venue operator the second founding member of the alliance, behind Silverstone Circuit.

The International Venue Alliance, which launched last week, is modelled on OVG’s US Arena and Stadium Alliance which comprises 28 arenas. OVG plans to make further announcements around the growth of its international alliance in the coming weeks.

The NEC Group’s membership in the alliance covers the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham, along with the four other venues: the International Conference Centre (8,000-cap.), the Vox (900-cap.), Resorts World Arena (15,685-cap.) and Arena Birmingham (15,800-cap.). The partnership will focus on helping the NEC drive new commercial partnerships across the venues.

“It’s very exciting to have NEC on board,” says Sam Piccione, OVG’s international president. “We’ll be partnering with them as an extension to their talented sales team to find the right naming rights partner for the NEC and Arena Birmingham.

“We will also help them maximise new and unique commercial opportunities and additional revenue through driving content and leveraging our platform,” says Piccione, adding that the NEC, which was acquired by US private-equity firm the Blackstone Group in 2018, is a “first class organisation with strong leadership” that plays a “vital role” in hosting live events.

“The NEC Group really recognises the mutual benefits of the Venue Alliance and will be putting plans in place to work in true partnership from the start”

“As the Venue Alliance grows, we’ll continue to help our members in areas that are important to them and the overall business, which will extend to everything from ticketing and premium hospitality strategy, event scheduling, and unique sponsorship opportunities,” says Piccione.

NEC Group’s chairman of arenas and ticketing, Phil Mead, comments: “The NEC Group really recognises the mutual benefits of the Venue Alliance and will be putting plans in place to work in true partnership from the start.

“As a first step, we’re looking forward to dovetailing our NEC Group commercial team with the Venue Alliance team to extend the reach and resource applied to commercial rights sales. We are equally optimistic that further value will be added to our events programming through the Venue Alliance.”

The partnership is the latest in a series of developments for OVG, which launched 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.

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

 


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