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Volume 25 No. 198

Facilities

The combined group will now represent NFL stadiums, NBA arenas and convention centers
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

The pending merger between AEG Facilities and SMG to form ASM Global "represents a significant shift in the venue space, combining the two firms with the largest marketshare in one monolithic entity," according to Dave Brooks of BILLBOARD.com. The combined group now represents NFL stadiums, NBA arenas and convention centers "with new access to AEG's resources including its global touring unit." AEG now has "access to more than 300 facilities around the world through ASM, but what that looks like long-term is unclear." It is "likely there will be little, if any, change at any of the SMG buildings in the next six months to a year, but the long-term benefit of having a direct relationship with so many venues around the world presents a number of interesting opportunities for AEG." One Live Nation senior exec said that the company's top brass is "not planning any major opposition to the joint venture deal." It is also "unclear how regulators will approach the merger of the two largest venue operators." The deal "does not include" AEG-owned venues in Staples Center and L.A. Live, the 02 Arena in London or entertainment development in Berlin and Hamburg, Germany (BILLBOARD.com, 2/7). 

MORE DETAILS: The new standalone company will be based in L.A. and have approximately 50,000 employees. AEG and Onex, SMG’s parent company, each will have a 50% stake in ASM Global. The merger is expected to be completed later this year. AEG Facilities President Bob Newman said SMG is bringing approximately 240 venues it manages worldwide to the merger; AEG oversees 70 facilities. Newman will also become ASM President & CEO. He previously worked at SMG as a regional VP. SMG President & CEO Wes Westley will take a spot on the new company’s BOD after the merger (Mike Sunnucks, THE DAILY). In Philadelphia, Joseph DiStefano notes the moves mean Westley will "step back from day-to-day management." Onex Managing Dir Amir Motamedi credited Westley for making SMG the “gold standard” in the industry over his 25 years at the company. SMG was founded in '77 by late Flyers owner Ed Snider when his facilities group was "picked to run the Superdome" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 2/8).

END OF THE LONG ROAD: BILLBOARD's Brooks noted the merger "ends longstanding efforts to find a permanent home for SMG, which has traded hands between several private equity funds and had been an acquistion target of the Oak View Group." That sale was "blocked by Westley, and Live Nation reportedly kicked the tires on a possible acquisition but ultimately opted not to make the large investment in the real estate space" (BILLBOARD.com, 2/7).

The stadium's turf likely will be replaced every two years due to wear from the field often being repainted
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

The artificial turf at Mercedes-Benz Stadium "will be replaced" before the '19 NFL season, according to Tim Tucker of the ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION. Mercedes-Benz Stadium GM Scott Jenkins said that the work will take "about a week" and is scheduled during Atlanta United's regular season but before the Falcons' season begins. The plan is to use a "very similar but newer version" of the current playing surface from FieldTurf. That company installed the turf in the stadium when it opened in '17. Jenkins said that the turf likely will be "replaced every two years, in part for aesthetic reasons because of wear from the field being constantly repainted and rebranded for various events." Tucker notes the replacement turf will cost about $700,000, and is the "most expensive item on a lengthy list of capital improvements proposed for the stadium this year" (ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION, 2/8).

The MECCA bar will include nods to the Bucks' old venue and Wisconsin sports history
Photo: RINKA

The Bucks will "name their new sports bar outside Fiserv Forum The MECCA Sports Bar and Grill," but there are "no plans to include the colorful MECCA floor" from the team's former home, according to James Nelson of the MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL. Bucks Senior VP/Bucks Ventures & Development Michael Belot said, "No MECCA floor, but there will be nods to the history of the MECCA and or the rest of Wisconsin sports history." Nelson noted the original MECCA floor, which is an "important part" of the team's history, was "last reported in storage in the Milwaukee area." The new MECCA bar will be "adjacent to the beer garden area of the entertainment block" near Fiserv Forum. The Bucks "ovesee operation of the beer garden and will oversee The MECCA" as well. Food and beverage options for both businesses will be handled by Levy, which also handles the Bucks' arena concessions. The MECCA is "expected to open by the end of April" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 2/8). The MECCA will feature "two full-size bars and accommodate up to 600 guests through outdoor seating on both levels and arena-style seating on its second floor" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 2/7).