ICONIC: YouTube TV’s NFL Sunday Ticket activation was the first-ever brand campaign for what’s called the Exosphere. Jay Voelker will lead Crown Properties Collection as president. (Courtesy vendor)
Entity Will Manage Elite Venue Partnerships, Sponsorships Worldwide
Oak View Group has partnered with MSG Ent. and Sphere Ent., to form Crown Properties Collection, a division that will manage marquee partnerships with sports and entertainment brands and venues worldwide, including Sphere, Madison Square Garden, Radio City Music Hall, New York Knicks, New York Rangers, MSG Networks, the Radio City Rockettes and other MSG properties.
Industry veteran Jay Voelker, who has struck partnerships on behalf of the PGA, will join OVG as president to lead Crown Properties Collection. Oak View Group is parent company to VenuesNow and Pollstar.
A number of employees who had been responsible for MSG Entertainment’s sponsorship partnerships will now become OVG employees, but will operate separately from OVG’s highly successful Global Partnerships division, which employees over 200, led by Dan Griffis.
“Global Partnerships, and those roughly 200 employees within Dan’s division, are doing an unbelievable job, but they are very busy,” said OVG Chairman and CEO Tim Leiweke. “In addition to the seven arenas that we just opened, we have another eight arenas coming out, and Global Partnerships handles our naming rights and our sponsorship for all of those projects. This was a way to make sure that we pay attention to our current clients and don’t drop the ball for them. It’s a way to bring on more people and add them to our sales organization and give us literally the greatest base, and the greatest reach, that any agency has ever had within the sports and live entertainment business.”
MSG Entertainment and Sphere Entertainment are not only founding partners in the new entity. As CPC’s first clients, the companies get representation of all brands and properties across the MSG family, including the Sphere, which opens in Las Vegas on September 29, Madison Square Garden, Radio City Music Hall, the Beacon Theatre, The Chicago Theatre, the New York Knicks, New York Rangers, MSG Networks, the Radio City Rockettes and The Christmas Spectacular.
When asked if this partnership portends deeper ties between OVG and MSG going forward, Leiweke said that OVG co-founder Irving Azoff and MSG Entertainment Executive Chairman and CEO James Dolan enjoy a close relationship, which included the re-opening of the L.A. Forum in January 2014.
“We have a great relationship with Jim,” he said. “Irving and Jim are great, long-term friends and fans and partners of each other. They have a unique bond between the two of them. Jim is a unique person because he understands music and he understands sports, but he also understands facilities. He understands that we’re the fastest-growing and the most dynamic facility company in the business. This is a very good partnership, but right now what I’m focused on is, how do we best represent the Rangers and the Garden and the Beacon and Radio City Music Hall and, in particular, the Sphere, that that’s what is directly in front of us.
“I don’t get too far ahead of myself and even if I did, I probably wouldn’t tell you.”
The media impressions have already been considerable and YouTube TV’s NFL Sunday Ticket activation was the first-ever brand campaign for what’s called the Exosphere, or the exterior LED-filled surface of Sphere.
As for Voelker, Leiweke said he’s been in discussions with him for the past year.
“He has a unique ability to capture the attention of fortune 500 companies and CEOs,” Leiweke said. “He has probably the greatest Rolodex in the history of the industry, because of golf, and how unique that is within the corporate world as to sponsorships and partnerships.”
Leiweke called Sphere a groundbreaking global landmark that will instantly take its place among others like the Statue of Liberty, the Pyramids at Giza and the Eiffel Tower, but with brand activation potential that tops them all.
“The difference between this one and all the others is the ability to activate this structure and the uniqueness and the social media reach that this building is going to have, “ he said. “It’s going to be one of the 10 most photographed, talked about, and driven items of discussion on social media in the world. There are moments in time we’re in our industry, we have these revolutions, and this is one of them. This is going to change our business forever.”