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Silver Lake invests in US sports facilities firm

Silver Lake invests in US sports facilities firm

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By: SportBusiness International team

13 Mar 2018
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US entertainment and sports facilities company Oak View Group (OVG), the entity behind the drive to bring an NHL ice hockey team to Seattle, has secured substantial investment from private equity firm Silver Lake.

Terms of the strategic investment were not disclosed, but the Wall Street Journal newspaper said Silver Lake is offering more than $100m (€81m) in exchange for an undisclosed equity stake in the company. Additional investment could reportedly follow.

OVG said the investment will support the Los Angeles-headquartered company’s growth strategy, including its arena development projects and other strategic initiatives.  

OVG last month filed an official application for an expansion franchise in the NHL, with plans to base the team at a refurbished KeyArena in the Washington city. The bid group, led by billionaire David Bonderman and film producer Jerry Bruckheimer, sent the application, as well as a $10m fee to the league and a season ticket campaign has since been launched which has already gained more than 33,000 deposits.

OVG has said that if Seattle is successful in its bid, it will spend $600m to renovate the city’s 56-year-old KeyArena in time for a potential debut season in 2020-21. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman in December said that the league would consider Seattle as a location for an expansion franchise. At the time, Bettman said no other cities were being considered as part of the process.

OVG also last year partnered with New York Mets chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon and NHL team the New York Islanders to form a group that was awarded the right to build a new arena for the Islanders adjacent to the Belmont Racetrack in New York.  

In December, the Islanders reached an agreement to build a new arena on the site of the Belmont Park racecourse on Long Island. The deal will see the Islanders return to Long Island, where it spent more than 30 years playing at the Nassau Coliseum. The team has played at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn since 2015.

The new 18,000-seat arena on the site of Belmont Park will serve as the centrepiece of a proposed $1bn development that will also include a hotel, retail, dining and entertainment space and offices and parking.

Commenting on the Silver Lake investment, OVG chief executive Tim Leiweke said: “In less than three years, Oak View Group has made a significant positive impact on the sports and entertainment facilities landscape. I am very proud of what we have accomplished in such a short time. This deal with Silver Lake provides us with capital to continue to grow our business as well as invaluable expertise and relationships.”

Lee Wittlinger, managing director at Silver Lake, added: “Technology's impact on the global media and entertainment sectors has created new opportunities for OVG. We firmly believe that OVG is positioned to become a world-class franchise in sports and live events.”

Leiweke told the Wall Street Journal that OVG remains “laser focused” on North America but will expand into Europe and Asia this year.

“It’s no question we’re going through a massive growth spurt,” Leiweke said, adding that OVG anticipates signing six to eight more venue deals this year. “There’s this need and desire of people to spend discretionary dollars to come together at live events.”

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