Design & Development

Oak View Group to oversee $280m renovation of Hamilton arena

Images: Oak View Group

Venue development, advisory and investment company Oak View Group has today (Thursday) announced a deal with the Hamilton Urban Precinct Entertainment Group (HUPEG) and the City of Hamilton to begin major renovation work at FirstOntario Centre, a multi-purpose arena in the Canadian city.

The $280m (£230m/€264m) project will be spearheaded by Oak View Group, which will transform the arena into an 18,000-capacity venue with a reimagined façade, premium seating, enhanced acoustics, improved sightlines, upgraded concourses, optimised clubs and suites, and artist lounges.

Work is set to begin next spring, with the new-look arena expected to open in the autumn of 2025. The current FirstOntario Centre opened in 1985 and is used for ice hockey, lacrosse and basketball games, as well as other events.

Live Nation will join OVG as a booking partner and will seek to bring concerts and other live events to the new-look arena.

Today’s announcement comes after OVG was engaged to work on the redevelopment of Hamilton’s downtown entertainment precinct back in October 2021. The deal marked OVG’s entry into the Canadian marketplace, and in June 2022 the company launched OVG Canada to offer a range of services in the areas of venue development and management, booking and content development, sponsorship brand consulting, and third-party partnership sales.

The Hamilton arena project will be designed by Brisbin Brook Beynon Architects, and will form part of a larger downtown revitalisation project known as The Commons, which will also include a renovated convention centre, investments in the Art Gallery of Hamilton and concert hall facilities, and new residential, office, and retail space development.

Tim Leiweke, OVG chairman and chief executive, said: “Hamilton is already an important entertainment destination in Canada, and the city deserves a state-of-the-art venue that will attract the world’s best events to the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area.

“We are committed to delivering a facility that will completely transform the downtown area with its accessibility, technology-forward improvements and priority on sustainability. We are confident the Hamilton Arena Project will bring vitality and economic development to Hamilton.” 

Andrea Howarth, City of Hamilton Mayor, added: “This exciting redevelopment will create a world-class entertainment destination for the people of Hamilton and the entire region and contribute to the economic and cultural vibrancy of our city.

“OVG is an international entertainment powerhouse and their investment in Hamilton is a huge vote of confidence in our city. I’m so excited to see this transformation come to life.”

FirstOntario Concert Hall and the Hamilton Convention Centre will remain open and continue to host events during the arena’s renovation.