OVG lands ambitious Vienna venue project


OVG to build arena in Vienna Image: KMA Kronaus Mitterer Architekten

The Oak View Group (OVG), the parent company to Pollstar and its sister publication VenuesNow, has won the bid for its next big European arena project: A new 20,000-capacity building in the Austrian capital of Vienna, the gateway between Western and Eastern Europe, according to the OVG head honcho Tim Leiweke.

‘POLLSTAR’ stated that following an 18-month process, the OVG was named the “best bidder” to lead the construction and operation of the €384 million (US$428 million) project. The US arena developer stated that it intends to build “the best [arena] in continental Europe, enabling Vienna to compete with other worldwide capital markets and to host more of the world’s top events”.

The OVG Oak View Group, LLC is an American Global Advisory, Development and Investment Company for Sports and Live Entertainment industries. Based in Los Angeles, it was formed on November 16th, 2015 by Tim Leiweke and his business partner Irving Azoff. Leiweke is the company’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO).

Los Angeles (US)-based Pollstar is a trade publication for the concert and the live music industry. The publication was purchased by the Oak View Group, a venue consultancy founded by Tim Leiweke and Irving Azoff in July 2017.

Los Angeles (US)-based VenuesNow is the leading source of original reporting for live entertainment and events, serving management, owners and suppliers to music, sports and meetings venues internationally.

Founded in 2002 to provide leaders in this high-profile business with the information behind the headlines – the who, what, where and how-it-really-happened news one need to run a successful business – VenuesNow, formerly Venues Today, has continued to grow in sources and services. VenuesNow is part of the Oak View Group Media & Conferences.

The OVG Media & Conferences propels the industry forward by communicating relevant industry information and building innovative experiences.

‘POLLSTAR’ further stated that the City of Vienna launched the planning process for a new arena in 2019 with the aim of creating a multipurpose, state-of-the-art building that would attract the world’s biggest touring artistes, as well as other types of shows, corporate events, trade fairs, e-sport and other special events, according to the City’s own words.

The award process, led by the City of Vienna’s Wien Holding (the Vienna Government-owned corporation), was set up to identify a strategic partner capable of planning, constructing, financing, and operating the new arena.

Targets that had to be met by the bidders also included convincing sustainability and health and safety concepts, which the OVG was able to provide. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2025, aiming for completion in late 2029.

According to the City of Vienna, the arena will be largely financed by the OVG, with the City contributing an amount in the “double-digit million range”, according to the final offer.

According to a release from OVG, “The next phase of the award process will include planning, zoning and environmental impact assessments for the project before the contract signing later this year.”

It marks the ninth arena project in the last two years for the OVG. As OVG points out, “All of Oak View Group’s arenas have a positive community impact, prioritize sustainability and maximize safety for visitors. The OVG has a record of delivering its arenas through private financing, minimizing the cost to the local Councils and the taxpayers.”

The subcontractor on planning and construction is the Granit GmbH, among the top 10 of Austria’s largest construction companies. The celebrated design firm Populous is on board for added cooperation and planning. The basic design of the building was conceived by the Vienna-based architects Kronaus/Mitterer/Gallister.

While the City of Vienna acknowledges that the OVG cooperates closely with Live Nation, the largest entertainment provider worldwide, an important part of the bidding process was a guarantee that the arena would be open to all event organizers, “and that there are no exclusive rights for certain event organizers”, as it states on the City’s website, which adds that ticketing, too, must be designed in such a way as “not to impair the existing competition among the various ticket providers”.

Commented Tim Leiweke, OVG Chairman and head honcho, “Vienna is a capital market that deserves one of Europe’s top entertainment arenas. As the gateway between Western and Eastern Europe and again ranked as the world’s most liveable City this year, it needs an arena that can attract the world’s best events. For those that doubt our commitment and wherewithal, there have been seven new arenas built in the world in the last two years and OVG did them all. We are committed to this project and will deliver on our commitments.”

Added Francesca Bodie, President of Business Development and lead negotiator on behalf of OVG, “We have huge admiration for the City of Vienna for having the vision to deliver continental Europe’s best arena, as well as the initiative to find a partner with a proven record of delivering outstanding new arenas that minimize the cost to taxpayers and prioritize innovation and sustainability.”

As Wien Holding states, moves were made to stop the awarding of the project to OVG, including “two applications for review, and applications to prohibit the conclusion of the contract”, which were filed with the Vienna Administrative Court against the decision to award the contract to the best bidder.

As a rule, the Administrative Court of Vienna has a decision deadline of six weeks, and in-award procedures of this complexity, proceedings can be expected to take several months, the City informed.

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