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Oak View Group Hires John Bolton to Run New Palm Springs Arena

Palms Springs Arena at Agua Caliente
Courtesy of Oak View Group

Palms Springs Arena at Agua Caliente.

The Oak View Group has hired longtime venue management executive John Bolton to manage its new arena at Agua Caliente in Palm Springs, California, and serve as senior vp entertainment and GM, effective immediately. He will report to OVG COO Stephen Collins and will be part of the company’s senior leadership team, supporting all OVG venues in driving entertainment and programming content.

In this role, Bolton will work with OVG’s current venues under management and assist in developing grand opening and entertainment plans for OVG’s new arena projects -- the Palm Springs arena, a new arena in Seattle, the new arena at the University of Texas in Austin, a New York Islanders new arena in Belmont, Savannah Arena in Georgia and new arenas in Milan, Italy, and Manchester, U.K.

“John brings decades of industry expertise, and throughout his career, has played an integral role in building world-class successful venues. We are very pleased to welcome him to our team,” said OVG CEO Tim Leiweke in a statement. “As general manager, John will bring passion, energy, and vision to the arena in Palm Springs, and I look forward to his contributions in the years to come.”

As general manager of the Palm Springs arena, Bolton will oversee the development and opening of Southern California’s newest arena. The Palm Springs arena will be home to a recently announced American Hockey League (AHL) expansion team, affilated with a new Seattle NHL team that begins play during the 2021-2022 NHL season. Groundbreaking and construction on the $250 million arena in downtown Palm Springs will begin in February 2020 with completion in fall 2021. 

“Nothing could be more exciting to me than being part of OVG’s unprecedented number of new arena projects both nationally and internationally,” commented Bolton. “To have a role in developing the new arena in Palm Springs is a dream come true as I have always loved Palm Springs. I can’t wait to become involved in the community there and develop another unique and iconic arena,” added Bolton in a statement. 

“We’re thrilled to have John playing a key role in our business development efforts as we aspire to partner with the best facilities around the world. John will also play a crucial role in our event and content innovation strategy, added Peter Luukko, co-chairman of OVG Facilities and Alliances. 

“Bolton is a key ingredient to building a top-notch team for this world-class facility,” said Jeff L. Grubbe, chairman of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians. “We are excited about the energy this new arena will bring to the revitalization efforts in Downtown Palm Springs.”

Prior to his role with OVG, Bolton served as vp entertainment for ASM Global -- the venue management company formed following AEG Facilities and SMG Entertainment's merger. As part of the corporate team at SMG, Bolton worked with stadiums and arenas across the country to present more than 32,000 live events annually. Bolton supervised a national network of regional marketing directors who were responsible for some 140 arena marketing professionals. 

He also served as GM and oversaw the final phases of construction and grand opening of one of SMG’s premier arenas -- Tulsa’s BOK Center -- and was later promoted to regional vp for SMG's venues in Puerto Rico and the West Coast. Bolton was responsible for creating five new festivals and events in Tulsa that attract more than 200,000 people per year, establishing the underserved Tulsa market as a “must play” stop for national touring artists and family shows.

His effort led to a nomination for Pollstar’s best new major concert venue and subsequent nominations for Pollstar’s “Arena of the Year” every year he was GM. Bolton and the BOK Center were awarded the prestigious International Association of Venue Managers (IAVM) venue excellence award recognizing the top arena in the world.   

Bolton earned venue executive of the year recognition from the International Entertainment Buyers Association (IEBA) in 2011 and from Pollstar in 2012, as well the venue excellence award from IAVM in 2011. He is also a three-time winner of the Venues Today hall of headlines award (2008, 2013 and 2015).

Bolton recently served as chair of IAVM's board of directors (2013-2014) and sits on the executive committee and board of IEBA and on the board of directors of the Country Music Association located in Nashville. 


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