Oak View Group chief executive officer Tim Leiweke said Wednesday that “nothing has really changed” to the group behind the Islanders’ Belmont arena development plans following Madison Square Garden’s sale of its stake in the company.
Oak View Group, which builds, manages and books shows to dozens of arenas nationwide, is partnering with the owners of the Islanders and Mets on a $1 billion sports and entertainment development at Belmont Racetrack.
“This was always an an OVG project,” Leiweke said, “and always something that I was personally going to drive with my relationship with [Islanders owner] Scott Malkin.”
When Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced that the Islanders’ group was awarded the development rights to the state-owned land at Belmont in December, he also listed Madison Square Garden as part of the joint venture behind the Islanders' arena plans.
Leiweke said Wednesday that Madison Square Garden’s involvement in the Islanders’ project has only been through its equity stake in Oak View Group.
“They were obviously aware of what we were doing,” Leiweke said, “a willing participant in what we were doing, and a fan of that.”
On Monday, Madison Square Garden said it’s selling its stake in the company called Azoff MSG Entertainment — an original investor three years ago in Oak View Group — to entertainment executive Irving Azoff for $125 million.
“While we have sold our stake in Azoff MSG Entertainment, we remain confident that Tim and OVG – who bring decades of experience in arena development — will bring a world-class sports and entertainment destination to Belmont Park," MSG spokeswoman Kimberly Kerns said.
Leiweke said that deal is “separate and bigger” than what’s happening at Belmont.
Oak View Group, which began in 2015 as a partnership between Leiweke and Azoff MSG Entertainment, announced earlier this year that it received a capital investment from private equity technology firm Silver Lake, also an investor in UFC.
Oak View Group also is set to begin a $700-million renovation on Seattle’s KeyArena in preparation for a potential NHL expansion team.