Oak View Group is taking on its first project north of the border, having signed a deal with the Hamilton Urban Precinct Entertainment Group (HUPEG). The deal will involve OVG helping redevelop the Hamilton, Ontario Arts & Entertainment District, which includes the FirstOntario Centre Arena.
According to a press release from the June agreement between HUPEG and the City of Hamilton, the long-term agreement will include operations and maintenance of the arena as well as the FirstOntario Concert Hall, and the Hamilton Convention Centre. A renovation plan for the arena includes a minimum of $50 million in improvements, covering expanded concourses, exterior facade, and new video board.
Work is expected to begin on the project in fall 2022. The current arena was opened in 1985 and can host approximately 19,000 spectators for concerts, slightly less for sporting events. It is the home of the Hamilton Bulldogs (OHL), Hamilton Honey Badgers (CEBL) and Toronto Rock (NLL) franchises.
“I have been very fortunate in my career to be part of the Toronto community and call Canada home,” says Oak View Group CEO Tim Leiweke, a former president of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment in Toronto, which is approximately 70 kilometers northeast of Hamilton along the shores of Lake Ontario. “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 Canada and the Scotia Bank Arena,” he continued. “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.”
The deal is the first announced since Oak View Group’s blockbuster merger with Spectra, adding the massive venue management and hospitality provider to its growing business in a deal expected to close later this year. OVG also has partnerships with a number of venues on the verge of opening, including Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle, UBS Arena (Belmont, NY) and Coachella Valley Arena in California.