The Oak View Group’s Tim Leiweke stopped by XLIVE for a keynote speech that focused on the Group’s newest forms of disruption for the music industry, specifically security and several new “lifestyle campuses” in the works.
“We are definitely trying to shake things up,” Leiweke said of OVG. “There are some things (the live event industry) does very well and there are other things we don’t do very well.”
One of his group’s main concerns is venue security, which he and partner Irving Azoff have begun tackling with their subsidiary Prevent Advisors.
“It will not make us a lot of money, but it may be the most entrepreneurial idea that we bring to the industry,” Leiweke said of their security endeavors. “We think eventually drones are going to be a problem.”
Leiweke referenced an LA Times article from this week that quotes a top ISIS member who calls for more “lone wolf” attacks in the West.
“There is technology out there today that is anti-drone technology. We can take drones out of the sky if we don’t recognize the message,” he said. “The technology is currently banned by the FCC. So we have work to do in order to make our campuses safe. This is what our group is going to do.”
He added that they plan to implement facial recognition software and programs similar to expedited airport security, Clear, for live events. Known attendees such as season ticket holders for arenas and stadiums could be ushered into venues quicker with a Clear-like program, reducing the hassle for loyal customers and shortening security lines for everyone, while still keeping everyone safe.
Another security measure OVG is touting is the use of bomb sniffing dogs.
“Believe it or not bomb belts that the bad guys use today, the only thing that sensors those or sniffs them out are dogs,” he explained. “And there are only two or three farms in the United States that breed these dogs.”
He revealed that OVG is “buying into one of the bomb dog breeding grounds because we think they are so important and critical.”
The other major discussion point of Leiweke’s speech was the Group’s establishment of six or seven new “lifestyle campuses.” As someone who helped develop the popular Los Angeles destination, LA Live, Leiweke laid out the benefits of entertainment districts.
“We have seven new projects on the drawing board right now,” he said. “If you look at new arenas or stadiums, they tend to get built based on the anchor tenant, based on the sports team that needs a new facility. But there are really great markets out there, take Seattle for example, where we believe Seattle doesn’t have to have an NBA or NHL team.”
The Group would be willing to accommodate a professional team if offered, but their plans are to build arenas primarily for concerts. He used Las Vegas’s new T-Mobile Arena as example.
“A great $350 million commitment to build a state-of-the-art arena and at the time when we designed it and we made the deal with MGM, there was no anchor tenant. So our anchor tenant was music,” he said. “We truly believed we could make the economics work based on music. It did work on music alone. The building paid for itself and was ultimately able to generate a profit based on music becoming the anchor tenant.”
The upcoming lifestyle campuses (Seattle and Baltimore were the only locations mentioned), would feature arenas but also provide space for other attractions and cultural events. He also hinted that these lifestyle campuses will be plug-and-play spaces, which could lower the cost of putting on a festival in the over-saturated market. This could help make it easier for independent festivals to be financially viable, while keeping the cost low for consumers.
“We are looking at building a 15,000 seat arena at the center of the campus, but the arena is not the point of destination for lifestyle,” he said adding, “it will be the campus that ultimately goes out and creates all kinds of activity.”
For example, Leiweke offered up his ongoing partnership with Under Armour Founder and CEO Kevin Plank.
“Kevin doesn’t just want to create an arena. He is spending $5 billion dollars on a new campus to bring the headquarters, the manufacturing, and all of his vendors to one place to recreate and reinvent Baltimore city,” Leiweke explained. “Noble idea at the end of the day to think that we can produce, create, and distribute that kind of product in the United States without having to go to Asia.”