OVG Invited deal push to premium hospitality


OVG buys stadium club business Image: Lane Stadium, User:B, CC BY-SA 4.0

The American professional sports and commercial real estate company – the Oak View Group (OVG) – has acquired the lifestyle company Invited’s Stadium Club division for an undisclosed, multimillion-dollar sum in a deal that furthers OVG’s move into premium experiences.

‘Sportico’ stated that the largest arena developer in the world, the OVG will take over the ownership and operations of stadium club properties at six college football stadiums across the United States – Baylor (the 45,140-capacity McLane Stadium in Waco, Texas, home of the Baylor Bears football team, which is owned and operated by the Baylor University), the University of North Carolina (UNC – the 50,500-capacity Kenan Memorial Stadium in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, home of the UNC football team North Carolina Tar Heels), the 50,782-capacity Arizona Stadium in Tucson, Arizona, located on the campus of the University of Arizona, is the home of the Arizona Wildcats football team, Utah (the 51,444-capacity Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City, Utah, located on the campus of the University of Utah and home of the Utah Utes football team), Texas Tech (the 60,454-capacity Jones AT&T Stadium in Lubbock, Texas, located on the campus of the Texas Tech University is the home of the Texas Tech Red Raiders football team), and Virginia Tech (the 66,233-capacity Lane Stadium in Blacksburg, Virginia, located on the campus of the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University is the home of the Virginia Tech Hokies college football team). These clubs function similar to the social clubs, with members paying for access to year-round lunches, dinners and themed events, and of course, football games on Saturdays.

The Oak View Group (OVG), 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.

Dallas (US)-based Invited is a company that focuses on redefining the private club industry. It is part of the leisure and hospitality industry, which is driven by consumer spending.

Invited’s Stadium Club Business is a business unit of Invited, a lifestyle company that owns and operates private clubs. Invited has 180 golf and country clubs, City clubs and stadium clubs in 30 States, the District of Columbia and two foreign countries. The company’s clubs have roughly 400,000 members, serviced by 20,000 employees (during peak seasons).

‘Sportico’ further stated that the above acquisition comes as pro and college teams place more and more emphasis on premium hospitality. Fans with deeper pockets want more than just a seat with a good view. They increasingly want elevated travel, food, social and entertainment options. The sponsors are also shifting money toward tailored premium experiences.

The OVG has reacted accordingly. Last year, it acquired Rhubarb Hospitality Collection, a luxury catering provider, and partnered with the noted wine expert Christian Navarro to further curate the food and beverage (F&B) strategy at the OVG venues.

Commented Chris Granger, President of OVG’s venue management unit, “This reinforces our commitment to elevating the premium space. Now you add this to the mix, where we’re thinking about membership on a year-long basis, and not just on an event-by-event basis.”

Granger did not divulge details on the price of the Stadium Club deal, but said the OVG was adding about 500 employees as part of the transaction. The club membership costs vary by school and by tiers, but typically include an initiation fee and monthly costs of a few hundred dollars.

The move also comes amid major changes in the business of college sports. Every school is looking to maximize revenue and, like their professional peers, those in college football’s top tier are eying hospitality as a growth area. Granger said the stadium club model achieves three key business drivers for the schools – it adds revenue, it monetizes non gamedays and it helps build community among a school’s most valuable fans – “So we love this business for those reasons, because we think it does actually solve the real problems that the universities and the athletic departments face.”

It’s a relatively new direction for the Oak View Group, which was founded in 2015 by the industry veterans Tim Leiweke and Irving Azoff. The company’s portfolio includes more than 400 venues worldwide (with some in college campuses) and its services cover everything from ownership and operations to venue consulting, security and content development. Its food and beverage (F&B) arm also has a number of existing university accounts.

The deal with Invited should also increase OVG’s presence in stadiums around the world.

Based in Dallas, Invited’s business will continue to focus on the ownership and operations of private golf clubs and country clubs around North America.

As part of the transaction, the OVG and Invited have agreed to partner to expand the benefits of club membership. In the future, for example, members of the Carolina Club might also have access to golf events at an Invited property, or opportunities to attend a sporting event in another part of the OVG portfolio, like the F1 race (the highest class of international racing for the open-wheel single-seater formula racing cars) in Las Vegas.

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