Oak View Group has launched OVG Canada, a new division focused on the Canadian sports and entertainment industry.
OVG Canada will offer strategic services in the areas of venue development and management, booking and content development, sponsorship brand consulting, and third-party partnership sales.
The launch comes after Oak View Group moved into the Canadian marketplace for the first time in October after it was engaged to work on the redevelopment of Hamilton’s downtown entertainment precinct, including the FirstOntario Centre arena.
OVG will join forces with Hamilton Urban Precinct Entertainment Group (HUPEG) – a private consortium led by Carmen’s Group and Mercanti Family & Associates – on the Hamilton project.
Tom Pistore will serve as president of OVG Canada, while Josh Epstein will be senior vice-president of partnerships and brand consulting. Zach Feldman will serve as senior vice-president of partnerships and revenue.
Pistore has more than 25 years of experience working across major professional sports leagues and most recently worked as president of the OVG-developed UBS Arena, home of the NHL’s New York Islanders. Pistore was also a member of the executive leadership team at Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment (MLSE), which operates teams and venues in Toronto.
Epstein joins OVG Canada from Bank of Montreal, where he was responsible for leading its North American sponsorship strategy, while Feldman most recently served as senior vice-president of partnerships and revenue at the Premier Lacrosse League.
Tim Leiweke, chairman and chief executive of OVG and former president and chief executive of MLSE, said: “During my time running MLSE, I realised that the Canadian sports and facility marketplace is uniquely driven by the Canadian consumer and Canadian companies. You cannot develop, operate, or sell Canadian facilities or assets from the US, and therefore it’s critical for us to be a part of Canada.
“With Tom Pistore leading the charge of our OVG Canada group, we want to create the best sports and facility sales organisation in Canada. Very few companies in our industry have the infrastructure that we have now in Canada and the US to serve our Canadian clients, giving OVG the competitive edge to deliver best-in-class results.”
Pistore added: “Oak View Group Canada will leverage our diverse experience, deep understanding of the Canadian marketplace, and the strength of our global leadership team to provide industry-leading solutions and opportunities to the Canadian market.
“After an exciting journey launching UBS Arena in New York, I could not be more excited to launch OVG Canada alongside a best-in-class leadership team that will deliver incredible results for our present and future partners.”
OVG Canada will also be supported by an executive team that includes OVG co-founder Irving Azoff, OVG360 co-chairman Peter Luukko, OVG’s business development president Francesca Bodie, and OVG360 president Chris Granger, who also serves as president of OVG’s Arena Alliance and oversees all venue and hospitality operations in Canada.
OVG360 operates multiple properties in Canada, including Budweiser Gardens in London, Ontario; CAA Arena in Belleville, Ontario; and Ovinitiv Events Centre in Dawson Creek, British Columbia. Toronto’s Scotiabank Arena is also a member of the OVG Arena Alliance.
OVG Canada has also announced that it has been selected by Canada Basketball as the body’s agency of record for national partnership sales.