OVG To Study Norfolk Scope Arena

Norfolk, Va., may be throwing its hat in the ring to vie with neighboring Virginia Beach as a concert hub with plans to overhaul and expand its aging

Norfolk Scope Arena
Mike Pennello
– Norfolk Scope Arena

Mayor Kenny Alexander, in a May 19 speech reported by the Virginian-Pilot, announced the city intends to sign an agreement with

The pending deal with OVG “represents a potential pathway to ensure Norfolk’s relevance as the entertainment hub of Virginia,” the mayor said during his first state of the city speech.

Peter Luukko, co-chairman of OVG’s Arena Alliance, told Pollstar his company has a preliminary development agreement to “really study, both economically and structurally, the renovation of the Scope Arena.”

He added that OVG, along with project partner Live Nation, would do a walkthrough of the Scope in the following week, and it’s expected that the cost estimate could follow within four to six weeks of that.

Live Nation’s specific role in the partnership hasn’t been defined. Luukko said the company could be a content partner but whatever role it plays, “it’s important to have them with us.”

Also joining the OVG team on the project are architectural firm Populous and International Facilities Group (IFG) of Chicago.

The 13,000-capacity Scope has never been renovated, and its exterior design practically guarantees that expansion would mean digging down, rather than out, to add seats.

Norfolk reportedly is not paying Oak View Group for the study, but has budgeted $100,000 to hire a firm to work with OVG in evaluating the possible expansion.

The Scope has seen millions of dollars in upgrades over the years including seat replacement, improved sound and lighting, and installation of a modern scoreboard, but has never had a complete renovation or expansion, according to the Virginian-Pilot.

Luukko acknowledges the Norfolk project has many similarities with another renovation project OVG has bid on,

“Scope has an iconic roof that is pretty cool,” Luukko said. “We are going to be exploring that, structurally, as well as how to improve the concourse and the building itself, bringing it up to date and making it competitive in today’s environment.

“It was built for 12,000 around the early 1970s, which was a big increase in capacity from those little arenas. In its time, it was a frontrunner in its business and did a lot of shows, including Elvis,” Luukko said.

Neighboring Virginia Beach has an 18,000-capacity arena proposal in the works, in order to attract a pro basketball or hockey team, as well. Luukko doesn’t seem concerned about the competition, and cites a development boom in the Norfolk-Virginia Beach area.

“It’s had a tremendous amount of development. The waterfront project has been huge; it has a great hotel and proliferation of shops, restaurants, and housing. The Scope is in the middle of it all so the idea is to bring it up to date,” Luukko said.