OVG boss plans splashy venue in London


OVG Tim Leiweke on future London venue Image: Hammersmith Bridge in London, Diliff, CC BY-SA 3.0

The American businessman behind Manchester’s new £365m Co-op Live Arena – whose opening has been delayed for a second time and is now scheduled to open on May 1st – is considering building a second glitzy venue in the United Kingdom, this time in Hammersmith, London, arguing the capital is underserved by its current entertainment options.

Manchester’s Co-op Live Arena will now be opened by A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie (American rapper and singer) on May 1st, with Olivia Rodrigo (American singer-songwriter and actor) due to play on May 3rd as planned.

‘CITY A.M.’ stated that the above move from Tim Leiweke, who set up the sports and entertainment investment outfit Oak View Group (OVG), would put him in direct competition with The O2 Arena, much of the success of which is attributed to Leiweke.

The 23,500-capacity Co-op Live is an indoor arena in Manchester, England (UK) sited in the Etihad Campus next to the 53,400-capacity City of Manchester Stadium. Originally due to open on April 23rd, 2024 and now scheduled to open on May 1st, it is planned to have the largest maximum capacity (as seats plus standing spaces) of any indoor arena in the United Kingdom, greater than the existing 21,000-capacity Manchester Arena, which is less than two miles (3.2 km) away. As of 2022, the estimated cost of the scheme is £365 million.

Timothy Leiweke is an American businessman who is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Oak View Group (OVG). Leiweke was the former President and CEO of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment and the former President and head honcho of the Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG).

The Oak View Group, LLC is an American professional sports and commercial real estate company based in Denver. It manages several sports venues, including the 18,300-capacity Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle, Washington, which was constructed under the company’s supervision.

The Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment Limited is a professional sports and commercial real estate company based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Los Angeles (US)-based the Anschutz Entertainment Group, also known as the AEG Worldwide, is an American global sporting and music entertainment presenter and a subsidiary of The Anschutz Corporation. It is the world’s largest owner of sports teams and sports events.

The 20,000-capacity O2 Arena, commonly known as The O2, is a multipurpose indoor arena in the center of The O2 entertainment district on the Greenwich Peninsula in Southeast London. It opened in its present form in 2007. It has the second-highest seating capacity of any indoor venue in the United Kingdom, behind the 21,000-capacity Manchester Arena, and in 2008 was the world’s busiest music arena. As of 2022, it is the ninth-largest building in the world by volume with a diameter of 365 meters (399 yards) and a height of 52 meters (57 yards).

‘CITY A.M.’ further stated that the entertainment mogul spent nearly two decades at the Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG), and was responsible for the O2’s transition from the ailing Millennium Dome to the iconic London venue.

But having left the AEG in 2013 – establishing the Oak View Group two years later – Lieweke is now exploring his options to challenge The O2 Arena’s reputation as London’s eminent night-time venue.

Stated Leiweke, “No disrespect to New York or Los Angeles, but London is the best market in the world, especially for live entertainment. London deserves to have the greatest arena in the world. They don’t yet.”

The move would not be the first time Leiweke has locked horns with his former employer. The AEG raised multiple objections to the construction of the Co-op Live, which is just two miles away from a venue AEG used to own: The AO Arena.

Lieweke said it would be a year before planning for the West London venue “gets real”, adding, “The fact we worked together doesn’t mean I’m not going to take advantage of their shortness, their brain freeze or their level of comfort – and I think they got comfortable.”

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