OVG enters the equation for Brisbane Live contract

Concept art for Brisbane Live

Featured image credit: Queensland Government

The race to develop the new Brisbane Live arena has become a competitive tender process, with Oak View Group (OVG) emerging as a contender for the contract.

The US venue development, advisory and investment company has come forward with a proposal to build and operate Brisbane Live, claiming its project would require “minimal” investment from taxpayers.

The Brisbane Times said OVG’s interest has led to the Queensland state government committing to a competitive tender process. OVG executive vice-president, Brian Kabatznick, told the newspaper: “(It is) an amazing opportunity to build a cutting-edge venue that will attract international performers and visitors and showcase top-quality events for Queenslanders.

“With our consortia partners, including Live Nation, the world’s leading live entertainment company, we have the expertise, the experience and, critically, the capital to transform this precinct in Brisbane into Australia’s premier entertainment destination with minimal public funding.”

Plans for a new arena in Brisbane first emerged in 2007 but the project moved forward after becoming part of the Cross River Rail plan. In December 2019, the state government announced plans to begin “market sounding” for a new arena.

The proposed 17,000-seat Brisbane Live is earmarked to staging swimming events during the city’s staging of the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games. It had been the brainchild of Harvey Lister, chairman and CEO of the Asia Pacific division of OVG rival, ASM Global.

ASM’s previous incarnation, AEG Ogden, signed an exclusive early operator engagement agreement with the state government in 2018 to develop the project’s business case. Responding to OVG’s interest, Lister said: “I’m not at all surprised that people would be trying to jump on board, years down the track from when we conceived the original concept and delivered the solution to the state government.

“There’s always Johnny-come-latelies who try to jump on. We’ll just continue our co-operative interface with the Queensland state government, as we have been doing for many years.”

Deputy Premier Steven Miles said the Queensland government is assessing investment options for the arena. “Further development of the design and project documentation is required before a final funding decision is made by the Queensland and Australian governments,” he added.

“A competitive tender process will be the best way to deliver value for money for Queenslanders and to finalise the design, project management and construction delivery phases of the arena’s development.”