Irving Azoff and Tim Leiweke’s Oak View Group Expands to Canada

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Oak View Group (OVG), a Los Angeles-based site development, consulting and investment firm, is expanding into Canada, through a partnership with the Hamilton Urban Precinct Entertainment Group (HUPEG) to redevelop the the arts and entertainment district of the Canadian city of Hamilton, including the FirstOntario Center arena.

The deal marks OVG’s first property under development in Canada and will also serve as a starting point for OVG’s Canadian office.

The news comes shortly after OVG merged with Spectra, a Philadelphia-based venue management and hospitality provider.

Specializing in sports and live entertainment, OVG currently owns the Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle, Washington, which is home to the NHL Seattle Kraken, and the UBS Arena in Belmont, New York, which is home to the New York Islanders. It is also building and will currently operate the Santa Giulia Arena in Milan, Italy, in partnership with Live Nation.

HUPEG is a private consortium led by Carmen’s Group and Mercanti Family & Associates, and was selected to renovate the neighborhood by Hamilton City Council in June 2020, with a 49-year framework agreement.

Work is expected to begin in fall 2022, according to the companies, and is expected to take place over two years and be completed in two phases.

As detailed in a June press release, HUPEG proposed that improvements to the arena include a new exterior facade and video board, an expanded lobby level, and a new curtain system for the upper bowl balcony. .

The project is expected to deliver an “improved fan experience” with “new and improved food and drink offerings, premium and club spaces, investments in technology and connectivity,” the two companies say.

The design of the renovation will be led by BBB Architects, who managed the renovation of Madison Square Garden in New York City.

“We believe Hamilton is the ideal market to plant our first OVG Canada flag. “

Tim Leiweke, OVG

Tim Leiweke, CEO of OVG and Former President of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment of Canada, said, “I have been very fortunate in my career to be part of the Toronto community and to live in Canada.

“I have seen with my own eyes the continued growth of Metro Toronto, and we believe Hamilton in particular needs a place that reflects growth, big fans and the community, which requires new facilities are developed and new opportunities are created.

“We believe Hamilton is the ideal market to plant our first OVG Canada flag and will be a venue that complements Toronto and the Scotia Bank Arena.

“We believe there is a need, an opportunity to transform the current arena and we are extremely happy to partner with the City of Hamilton and HUPEG on their vision.

“This partnership brings together two dynamic companies with aligned interests.

Francesca Bodie, OVG

Francesca Bodie, President of Business Development of OVG, said: “This partnership brings together two dynamic companies with a common interest in developing world-class sports and entertainment venues in one of the fastest growing urban markets. from North America.

“OVG’s core competencies in arena development and corporate sponsorship, coupled with HUPEG’s in-depth local expertise and success in championing high-impact city building projects, will translate into through the formation of a regional powerhouse that will meet the evolving entertainment needs of southern Ontario’s most robust market. “

“We are one step closer to realizing our vision of transforming Hamilton’s beloved arena into a destination for sports fans, music lovers and families. “

PJ Mercanti, HUPEG

PJ Mercanti, President of HUPEG, said: “We are delighted to announce this partnership with OVG, a forward-thinking pioneer in the world of sports and live entertainment.

“By joining forces with their impressive team of industry champions, we take one step closer to realizing our vision of transforming Hamilton’s beloved arena into a destination for sports fans, music lovers and families.

“We sincerely believe the best is yet to come for Hamilton.”

Jasper Kujavsky, HUPEG partner

Jasper Kujavsky, HUPEG Partner and Arena Renovation Project Director, added: “We have long believed in the potential of this arena site, which is historic land as the location of the famous ‘Gretzky in Lemieux’ goal. and the very first JUNOS prizes. Concert formula.

“We sincerely believe that the best is yet to come for Hamilton the ‘Ambitious City’ and we look forward to embarking on this historic journey with our incredible partners at OVG. “Music trade around the world

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