Among the reasons the Oak View Group is becoming a powerhouse in the arena and entertainment industries, synergy through the acquisition of key resources might be the most prominent.
On July 12, OVG announced the addition of another impressive asset in the music industry - the concert trade publication Pollstar. The magazine maintains an enormous database of musical artists, venues, and tours of those artists through those venues. Any musician who is anybody is in that database, and any musician who is anybody wants to be in that database.
The following statement was released on Pollstar’s Facebook page.
“We are very excited to become part of the growing OVG family and its vast array of worldwide resources,” Pollstar President and Editor-In-Chief Gary Bongiovanni said. “After 35 years of independent operation, a key factor in our making the deal was OVG’s understanding of the importance of keeping our editorial coverage and services neutral as we speak to, and for, the entire concert industry.”
What do you get when you combine a publication like that with a concert booking juggernaut like LiveNation and a legendary music agent like OVG co-founder Irving Azoff? You get synergy, which is what would uniquely position Oak View to book as many musical acts as they need, and whichever musical acts they want in a council-approved, reconstructed KeyArena.
That ability is what allows the group to obtain the financing needed to build the arena on spec. The ability to build on spec is one factor that would help OVG obtain an NHL expansion franchise for Seattle. Recall that “steel coming out of the ground” helped Las Vegas land the team that will take the ice next season.
But it will take more than an arena, more synergy, to bring the NHL in the very near future, and to hopefully bring the NBA in the next five to ten years. It will also require strong relationships with both winter leagues. Fortunately, the Oak View Group has those in spades.
CEO Tim Lieweke has served on the Board of Governors for both the NBA and the NHL. A minority owner of the Boston Celtics, David Bonderman, was brought into the fold to acquire a hockey team. Movie mogul Jerry Bruckheimer, the other part of the potential NHL group, also has very close ties to his league of choice. Delaware North, which was founded by Boston Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs, is a partner in the project. MSG, which has a strong connection to both leagues, is providing a financial backstop to OVG of up to a billion dollars to finance the deal.
By most accounts, the NHL is going to be the first to arrive in Seattle, but don’t lose hope that the NBA will return as well.
Some are concerned that the City of Seattle, the music industry, and hockey will take up too much of the financial pie for an NBA ownership group to make a sufficient profit in a rebuilt KeyArena. I don’t share that concern because OVG makes its living on building unique partnerships to get big and complex things done. I simply can’t believe that they aren’t creative and innovative enough to bring together just the right NBA partnership to make this work.
Some are concerned that Lieweke and Azoff have no desire to bring the NBA to Seattle. Believe him or not, but Lieweke offers the following rebuttal.
“Some people want to yell that I’m not passionate about basketball,’’ said Leiweke, who oversaw operations for the Los Angeles Lakers, Denver Nuggets and Toronto Raptors. “That’s incorrect. I’m more passionate about basketball than about hockey, if you look at my tenure in my last 30 years of where I’ve spent my time.’’
Leiweke noted that NBA Commissioner Adam Silver suggested three weeks ago during the NBA Finals that expansion was likely several years from happening. That means, Leiweke added, that OVG can best spend its efforts landing an NHL franchise he suggests would be imminent once he completes a deal with the city.
“I seem to be the only one willing to step up and say ‘Folks, here’s the reality of the situation we face. Let’s be honest here,’ ’’ Leiweke said. “There is no NBA team to be had today.’ And if there is one to be had, we will be the first ones on it and we have an ownership group and partners that have the ability of going and chasing that team.
There is no guarantee, regardless of arena location, that the NBA will return to Seattle, but please note that Lieweke has never said that it’s a hopeless fantasy. He has only said that it isn’t happening right now.
If and when the Sonics decide to come home, however, it’s going to take synergy to make it possible.