Oak View Group to Lead $280M Renovation of Hamilton’s FirstOntario Centre

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The Oak View Group is working with Hamilton Urban Precinct Entertainment Group and officials of the city of Hamilton, Ontario on a plan to begin renovations on the 18,500-capacity FirstOntario Centre, a reimagined arena that will be the centerpiece in revitalizing the city as a music, sports and entertainment destination, 45 miles southwest of Toronto.

The $280 million renovation is spearheaded by Oak View Group who will transform the facility into an 18,000-seat capacity venue with a reimagined facade, premium seating, enhanced acoustics, improved sightlines, upgraded concourses, optimized clubs and suites and artist lounges. The newly modernized venue will accommodate shows unable to land an available date at the Scotiabank Arena in Toronto. Scotiabank Arena is owned my Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, where Tim Leiweke, OVG Chairman & CEO, served as chief executive from 2013 to 2015.

Live Nation will serve as the arena’s booking partner and bring concerts and other live events to Hamilton. Work on the facility will begin in spring 2024, and the building is expected to open in fall 2025.

“Our timing is perfect,” says Leiweke, noting that billions of dollars in construction for ten projects in Hamilton is planned for the fast growing region. “It’s a great market as Toronto has run out space for new construction. We’re making a big bet but we feel great about it. We have a great team here in place, a lot of great companies that believe in us and we are feeling very optimistic.”

OVG recently worked with Louis Messina, promoter of the Taylor Swift tour, to sell sponsorships for the singer’s six night run in November 2024 at the Rogers Centre in Toronto.

“We already have a great infrastructure in place with a strong team up here,” said Leiweke. Besides Hamilton, Oak View Group recently completed renovations at the CFG Bank Arena in Baltimore and plans to complete work at Coop-Live arena in Manchester, U.K. later this year.

The Hamilton Arena Project was designed by Brisbin Brook Beynon Architects and is part of a larger downtown revitalization project known as “The Commons”, which includes the arena, renovated convention centre, the Art Gallery of Hamilton as well as new residential, office, and retail space development.

Leiweke tells Billboard the new facility “will completely transform the downtown area with its accessibility, technology forward improvements and priority on sustainability.”

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