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Oak View Group Taps Kim Stone as UBS Arena President, Details DEI Initiatives

Stone, an openly gay woman, is just one example of OVG's sprawling efforts to promote diversity among the company's staff.

Global development company Oak View Group has announced industry veteran Kim Stone as president of the newly opened UBS Arena in New York.

Stone – who has racked up more than 25 years of experience at arenas for the NBA’s Miami Heat and Golden State Warriors in San Francisco – will also take on the role of executive vice president of OVG East Coast on Aug. 1. She will be based in Belmont Park, N.Y. and replace former UBS Arena president Tom Pistore, who will now lead OVG’s newly announced global office in Toronto, Canada as its first president.

“Kim is a strong addition to our all-star senior management team, and I’m pleased to welcome her to OVG,” says OVG co-founder Irving Azoff.

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OVG co-founder Tim Leiweke echoes Azoff’s comment, saying Stone “has established herself over these 25 years as probably one of the most outstanding executives in the business and highly respected within the industry.”

After helping to open the Chase Arena in San Francisco, Stone returned to the Miami Heat organization in the summer of 2021, where she was the executive vp of human capital and special projects. While there, she oversaw human resources, culture and DEI functions as well as financial and strategic construction oversight of more than $150 million in construction projects designed to modernize the 22-year-old arena.

“I’m ready. [New York] is a big market with big opportunities to build upon the success that has already started with UBS Arena,” says Stone, who praises the work OVG has done with the building’s launch. “You always want to go into a competitive situation with the best possible resources.”

Stone’s work as a DEI advocate and an openly gay woman in a male-dominated space only helped solidify OVG’s decision to hire her as they move to strengthen their own DEI initiatives. OVG’s DE&I program — overseen by the company’s vp of diversity, equity and inclusion Dr. Dedonair Oates-Primus alongside chief people and culture officer Ann Jackson – has set ambitious goals for the seven-year-old company. Last year, OVG began focusing on introducing more diverse students into the live event industry in collaboration with Seattle University and more. The company’s corporate summer intern program requires 50% of interns to be diverse students; it has also partnered with historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) to support its internship program and create a hiring pipeline.

The DEI initiatives are taking a layered approach, says OVG president of business development Francesca Bodie. “That starts at an entry level internship to inspire the next generation,” says Bodie. “If we can get them hooked on our industry, which is one of the best industries, we can keep them in a career path that allows them to understand that if they invest in us, we will also invest in them.”

OVG’s executive committee is 50% women (with 1/3 of those appointments made in the past year) and the company is working with women/minority business enterprise Third Eye Consulting Group on educational DEI training for the entire staff. As of today, OVG says its corporate leaders are 17% people of color and 27% women. At its venues, meanwhile, roughly 30% of employees are people of color and 34% are women.

Leiweke tells Billboard those percentages represent merely the beginning of OVG’s efforts. “I’m not claiming we’re there yet, but we will get there,” he says. “We’re talking about [DEI]. We’re forcing the issue. We’re trying to integrate it into all aspects of our organization.”

Jackson says OVG is not interested in hitting diversity quotas, but they do plan to better represent the communities they serve. In order to achieve that in an industry dominated by white men – specifically white men who hire and recruit candidates who look like them – the company needs to not only create a pipeline for a diverse staff but also be creative with its current higher-level hires. For OVG, that means widening the search for candidates and providing resources to help each new hire succeed.

“I tell the leaders, ‘We need patience and we need to look outside,’” says Jackson. “Because we might get someone who is great but doesn’t necessarily check all the boxes from an experience perspective. But if they have the right amount of curiosity…that will get them where we need them to be quickly.”