Los Angeles-based venue development, advisory, and investment company Oak View Group (OVG) is expanding into Canada, via a partnership with the Hamilton Urban Precinct Entertainment Group (HUPEG) to redevelop the Canadian city of Hamilton’s Arts and Entertainment District, including the FirstOntario Centre arena.
The deal marks OVG’s first development property in Canada, and will also serve as the launching point for OVG’s Canadian office.
The news comes shortly after OVG merged with Spectra, a Philadelphia-based venue management and hospitality provider.
Specialising in sports and live entertainment, OVG currently owns the Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle, Washington, home to the NHL Seattle Kraken, and the UBS arena in Belmont, New York, home to the New York Islanders. It is also currently constructing, and will operate, the Santa Giulia Arena in Milan, Italy, in partnership with Live Nation.
HUPEG is a private consortium led by Carmen’s Group and the Mercanti Family & Associates, and was chosen to renovate the area by Hamilton City Council in June 2020, with a 49-year master agreement.
Work is expected to begin in the fall of 2022, the companies say, and is anticipated 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 will include a new exterior façade and video board, an expanded concourse level and a new curtaining system for the upper bowl balcony.
The project is anticipated to deliver an “enhanced fan experience” with “new and improved food and beverage offerings, premium and club space, technological and connectivity investments”, says the two companies.
The renovation design will be lead by BBB Architects, who managed the renovation of Madison Square Garden in New York City.
“We believe Hamilton is the perfect market to plant our first OVG Canada flag.”
Tim Leiweke, OVG
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.
“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.”
“This partnership brings together two dynamic enterprises with an aligned interest.”
Francesca Bodie, OVG
Francesca Bodie, president of OVG business development, said: “This partnership brings together two dynamic enterprises with an aligned interest around developing world-class sports and entertainment venues in one of North America’s fastest-growing urban markets.
“OVG’s core competencies in arena development and corporate sponsorships, coupled with HUPEG’s deep local expertise and success in championing impactful city-building projects, will result in the formation of a regional powerhouse that will service the evolving entertainment needs of Southern Ontario’s most robust marketplace.”
“we are one step closer to achieving 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 thrilled 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 are one step closer to achieving our vision of transforming Hamilton’s beloved arena into a destination for sports fans, music lovers, and families.”
“We genuinely believe that the best is yet to come for Hamilton.”
Jasper Kujavsky, HUPEG partner
Jasper Kujavsky, HUPEG partner and director of the arena renovation project, added: “We have long believed in the potential of this arena site, which are historic grounds as the home of the famous ‘Gretzky to Lemieux’ goal and first-ever JUNOS Awards Concert format.
“We genuinely believe that the best is yet to come for Hamilton, the ‘Ambitious City’, and we are eager to embark on this historic journey with our incredible partners at OVG.”Music Business Worldwide