OVG to lead FirstOntario Centre revamp


OVG will renovate FirstOntario Center Image: Oak View Group

The Oak View Group (OVG) and the City of Hamilton, Ontario (Canada), have reached a deal that will allow a $280 million renovation of the City’s sports arena to proceed, as per an announcement made recently.

‘Sportico’ stated that the renovation of the FirstOntario Centre “will be the centerpiece in revitalizing the City’s position as a premier music, sports and entertainment destination for Southwest Ontario,” the announcement says in part.

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 (US), 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).

The FirstOntario Centre is a sports and entertainment arena in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. It opened in 1985 and has a capacity of up to 19,000.

The Oak View Group, the largest developer of live venues in the world, will lead the revamp of the arena, expanding capacity slightly to 18,000, adding premium seating, improving acoustics and sightlines, optimizing suites for artists and VIPs, and revitalizing the exterior façade, according to the announcement.

Los Angeles-based Oak View opened its Canada division last year with the expectation that the renovation of the Hamilton arena would be its first major effort in the country. According to a recent report, unspecific “legal hurdles” with the City delayed the project from its originally reported start date of Spring this year until early next.

‘sportico’ further stated that the arena in Hamilton, which sits about halfway between Buffalo and Toronto on the East shore of Lake Ontario, is home to the Bulldogs of the Ontario Hockey League and the National Lacrosse League’s Toronto Rock. A minor league basketball team, the Honey Badgers, permanently relocated to Brampton, Ontario, after the renovations were first planned last year.

Said Tim Leiweke, Oak View Group (OVG) Chairman and head honcho, “Hamilton is already an important entertainment destination in Canada, and the City deserves a state-of-the-art venue that will attract the world’s best events to the greater Toronto and Hamilton area.”

Leiweke formerly led the Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, the parent of the Toronto National Hockey League (NHL) franchise as well as Toronto’s National Basketball Association (NBA) and Major League Soccer (MLS) clubs.

Completion of the FirstOntario Centre renovations is expected in 2025, with the arena reopening that Autumn. The arena project is part of a larger downtown revitalization effort known as the Downtown Entertainment Precinct, which will also include a renovated convention center, music halls and art galleries.

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