Oak View Group launches new Canada division – Sports Business Journal

Oak View Group launched OVG Canada this morning, a new division of the company focused on providing venue development and management services, sponsorship brand consulting and third-party partnership sales to the Canadian sports and entertainment industry. The new division also announced Canada Basketball as its first partnership sales client. “We have to be based in Canada, in Toronto, to truly represent the best interests of our clients here,” said OVG Chair & CEO Tim Leiweke, who ran Toronto-based Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment from ’13-15. “I didn’t realize the mistrust they had for an executive from the United States running one of the crown jewel assets of Canada, and I had to learn.”
Tom Pistore will lead OVG Canada as its President. He moves over from UBS Arena, where he held the same title; a search for his replacement at the Long Island arena is in the closing stages, according to Leiweke. Pistore said he will be adding to his team, which already includes Josh Epstein, who joined from Bank of Montreal and will be OVG Canada’s Senior VP/Partnerships and Brand Consulting, and Zach Feldman, who joins from the Premier Lacrosse League and will be OVG Canada’s Senior VP/Partnerships & Revenue. No search firm was used in either hire.
Pistore said that OVG Canada’s revenue will primarily flow from four sources: venue development and redevelopment, like its $500M arena and entertainment district redevelopment project in Hamilton, Ontario; brand consulting; the creation of a Canadian venue alliance like the one OVG has in the U.S.; and serving as sales agency of record for properties like Canada Basketball. “We’re going to be a little bit of gasoline for them as they launch and prepare for the Olympic run,” said Pistore, whose career began in ’95 with the Raptors.
The creation of OVG Canada essentially organizes what OVG already had in place north of the American border, including 40-plus venues under its management, with more than 200 full-time employees, and the nine-figure Hamilton redevelopment project. “Our hope here is to provide additional support to that group and just be a local voice here in Canada,” said OVG360 President Chris Granger, who will oversee all Canadian venue and hospitality operations.
OVG’s interests beyond North America are managed out of London and Sao Paolo, Brazil. Leiweke said to expect another dozen projects to emerge from the London office in the coming months, adding to new arena projects in Manchester and Cardiff, whether venue development projects or venue acquisitions. He added that OVG has flagged Singapore as a future base of operations in the Asia-Pacific region.
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