Why would a sports executive with no publishing experience purchase one of the world’s largest concert trade magazines?
If you don’t quite understand Tim Leiweke’s Oak View Group purchase of Pollstar, you’re not alone. The acquisition — coupled with the purchase of Venues Today late last year and a strategic investment in the SportTechie blog — has many in the industry wondering what Leiweke is up to. Amplify caught up with Leiweke to learn more about the sale and pick his brain on why he bought the 36-year-old title and its longstanding conference.
Should we add ‘Media Mogul’ to your long list of accolades?
*Laughs* Look, we like this publication, we like these guys and we like the organization. With our resources, we certainly think we can continue to build it. We love the conference — I’ve been a part of it forever. At the end of the day, we think it’s a very important vehicle for both the music industry and the touring industry and it’s an iconic brand. We’re more than anxious to build it and grow it into something better.
How does Venues Today fit into all of this?
I think what you’re going to see, by the end of the year, is a global strategy that connects all the dots. I’ll leave it at that.
That’s it!? You gotta tell me more, everyone wants to know what you’re up to.
Look we’ve got Venues Today and VenuesNow, which is going to be killer. Our team did an incredible job on the panels and the participants — we’re going to have more than 350 people participating. We have Pollstar added to the mix, we have Ray Waddell added to the mix and we have more coming. By the end of the year, you’ll be able to look at it and go ‘I completely get what they’re doing.’
Are you creating a vehicle for the Arena Alliance to get their message out and advertise?
A large chunk of the people at this conference are part of our alliance and we have some breakouts just for members. We are very driven to protect the interests of these 26 buildings and begin to have conversations about important issues and operational issues that we all deal with together. Talking to promoters together, talking to managers together and talking to agents together. This has never happened before. Part of what drives us is a new conversation and platform for facilities. And that’s clearly what VenuesNow is about. Pollstar is going to continue to be dedicated to the music and touring business — these are two very distinct assets but we will sell them together, we will grow the panels together, we will share the database together. VenuesNow and Venues Today will continue to be focused on facilities while Pollstar will continue to focus on music and touring. We like these new assets and they certainly add a lot to OVG — there will be a day when OVG has a half-dozen to a dozen arenas ourselves and we’re an emerging growing company and this brings together the two most important magazines, publications, digital sites and conferences on the facility side and concerts. Pollstar’s bread and butter is tracking live touring — that’s what they do. We’re committed to continuing to growing these brands and using these assets to better serve our members in the Arena Alliance.
Does Pollstar stay in Fresno?
Their staff is headquartered there, Gary B and Gary S are headquartered there. They own the building – now we own the building. We certainly will have the synergies of sponsorships, advertising sales and conferences from LA and now Pollstar has an LA office they can work from. Their cost of doing business in Fresno is much cheaper than LA.
Is Ray Waddell now in charge of Pollstar?
Ray is going to be ingrained in Venues Today, VenuesNow and Pollstar. He’s a great asset to have and we plan to reach out to other organizations and begin to incorporate them into the conversation. We will look differently at the end of the year than we do today.