TURN THE PAGE: John Page is Acrisure Arena’s new general manager. (Courtesy OVG)
Industry vet named SVP of new arena, AHL Firebirds
Barely a month after its December debut, Acrisure Arena in Thousand Palms, California, has a new general manager.
John Page takes over from John Bolton, the former GM who ushered the 11,000-capacity venue through its construction phase, it was announced today by Oak View Group, the arena’s developer and operator. Bolton, who remains in the Palm Springs area, now shifts to other roles within the company.
Page, who as president of Spectra helped transform the company from eight venues under management to hundreds in its portfolio, joins the company as senior vice president of Acrisure Arena, OVG360 Facilities and the expansion Coachella Valley Firebirds, the AHL team that calls the arena home.
Based in Palm Springs, Page starts immediately and reports to Firebirds President Tod Leiweke, Francesca Bodie, president of OVG business development and Chris Granger, president of OVG360.
Page said things happened fast since he first heard from Peter Luukko, OVG’s chairman of facilities and alliances, and Page’s former boss, in late November.
“He asked me what my interest would be in heading west and supporting the new arena project and also get involved with the AHL team,” Page said. “I’ve known Peter for 30 years. After that I spoke to Tim Leiweke, had a great conversation, and we decided it would make sense for me to come out and get the lay of the land.”
Page took in the arena’s opening events, returned home to the Philadelphia area and after Christmas, discussions intensified with OVG officials.
“Got the deal done on Dec. 30, started on the first (of January) and got here on the second,” he said.
Born in Phoenix and raised in southern California, Page went to USC, where he played offensive tackle for the Trojans football team. In 1991, Page got his first job as an event manager at the Los Angeles Sports Arena, where Luukko ran the building and the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
Over the next several years, Page served as president of booking and content for Global Spectrum and later Spectra, the facility management firm owned by Comcast Spectacor. Over time, he operated Wells Fargo Center and the arena’s $300 million renovation, which will be completed in 2023.
In addition, Page served as chief operating officer with Global Spectrum. He rose to become president of Spectra Venue Management before his job was eliminated in March 2021 during a sweeping round of job cuts during the pandemic.
At OVG, he is reunited with several former colleagues, including Luukko, Mike Ahearn, OVG360’s senior vice president of operations and Adam Millar, GM of Snapdragon Stadium in San Diego.
“The industry, as big as it is, is a small world and there are a lot of people that are still involved,” Page said.
As to what Tim Leiweke and company have built with OVG in the span of six years, Page said, “It’s a testament to Tim, Francesca and Tod Leiweke working collectively to look at what markets are in need of a new or renovated facility. They’ve changed the model. Instead of working from municipalities, they own the venues. It’s incredible to see how they’ve been able to push the envelope and get these buildings designed and stood up.”
At Spectra, “we were chasing management contracts,” Page said. “This is a little different.”
In a statement, Bodie touted Page’s status as “a well-respected leader with decades of experience in the live industry.”
“Vision and drive have been the cornerstones of his career and we’re very excited for him to bring the same energy and leadership to our team in Palm Springs,” she commented.
In the Firebirds, the arena has a highly successful resident in both wins and business activity, Page said.
“That’s a credit to the ownership,” he said. “Look at what the parent club (the Seattle Kraken) is doing. They’re piling up wins and points. Hopefully, they’ll be in a long playoff run and we’re hoping for the same thing here.”
Asked if new staff would be brought in, Page said evaluations of every aspect of the arena’s operation are under way.
“One of the reasons I’m here is to evaluate the existing organization and make sure we are being efficient and operating the team and the building as one complete organization,” he said. “There can be changes, but there are a lot of great people who do a great job and I’m just looking forward to helping them do a better job and meet our goals and objectives.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: OVG is the parent company of VenuesNow and Pollstar.