BACK AND READY: Fans get fired up for Foo Fighters at the first post-shutdown full-attendance show at New York’s Madison Square Garden on June 20. (Getty Images)

Welcome to this very special issue of VenuesNow, which commemorates not only the fourth edition of our flagship event VenuesNow Conference, but also an in-depth profile of Climate Pledge Arena, the debut arena project of VN parent Oak View Group, and billed as the first net zero carbon certified arena in the world, operating on 100% renewable energy. Welcome to the future. 

These are milestone times for the team at OVG Media & Conferences, which publishes both VenuesNow and sister publication Pollstar and produces their respective flagship events, VNC and Pollstar Live! (returning to L.A. in February of 2022). While Pollstar Live! was an established event when OVG took the wheel for the 2018 edition (and we have proceeded to set records by every metric since that time), VNC was created, curated and established by the OVG M&C team from the jump, and we humbly have to say we’re thrilled at the results. We are well aware our success is thanks to you, our constituents in the venue industry, and we appreciate and respect your support. Just as VenuesNow is the premier trade magazine for professionals in the sports and live entertainment venue industry, VenuesNow Conference has quickly become the premier face-to-face event for those in this vital industry. And, this year, the emphasis is on the face-to-face part of the equation. Live from Seattle, it’s VNC Live!

Certainly, operating in a post-COVID environment is at the forefront of all discussions in our industry these days, but VNC4 in Seattle will host an even bigger, longer-term prevailing commentary this year. After highly praised runs in Los Angeles and New York, VNC moved to Seattle to coincide with the opening of the new Climate Pledge Arena and, given the “green” agenda at CPA, the sustainability purpose permeates VNC4. CPA will be a functionally zero waste building from Day One, and will be eliminating all single-use plastics by 2024, so the experts taking on the topic of sustainability at VNC4 will definitely know whereof they speak. Indeed, this conference is certainly positioned to lead the conversation about safe and responsible venue operation in the coming decades; over the course of three successful runs, VNC has built a reputation as the most compelling and thought-provoking gathering in the international sports and live entertainment facilities industry. Topics at VNC4 typically explore leading edge innovation in the world of live event venues, including advanced technology, creative finance solutions, actionable ideas on inclusivity, next-level protocols around safety and security, the latest developments in ticketing, and “what’s next?” thinking around sponsorships, concessions, design and development, e-sports, university venues, in-venue gaming, immersive experiences, and the relationships between touring content, teams and owners, brand partners, venue operators, and other stakeholders serving the facilities industry, from the club to stadium level. That’s a lot, and with the opening of CPA, this year the common thread running throughout all of VNC4 is sustainability as it relates to this industry.


“Operating in a post-COVID environment is at the forefront of all discussions in our industry these days, but VNC4 in Seattle will host an even bigger, longer-term prevailing commentary.”


Regarded as unique in the venue industry for its focus on positive disruption and innovation in the public assembly facilities space, VNC and its speakers reflect that passion, as is demanded by our founder and CEO, Tim Leiweke. Anyone who has spent any time around Leiweke understands his contagious passion and drive, and in many ways CPA is the first — and only the first — physical manifestation of what OVG and Leiweke’s vision is all about. It has always been rewarding to note that attendance at the VenuesNow Conference is made up of C-level stakeholders in sports and live entertainment that share our passion and commitment to excellence in this ever-changing, dynamic industry, which fosters the  highest level of dialogue and networking opportunities. There is always a lot of brain power floating around at this conference and this is particularly true for VNC 4.

We hope you are in Seattle to soak it in, tour this game-changing facility, check out the home debut of the newest NHL franchise the Seattle Kraken on Oct. 23, and join us as Coldplay christens the venue with rock and roll in their first arena show in nearly five years on October 22. Certainly, the world will be introduced to Climate Pledge Arena, as Amazon Music will bring the show to fans around the world through a livestream on Prime Video, on Twitch, and on the Amazon Music app. Great, but better to be in Seattle. 

In the pages that follow, you can learn all about Climate Pledge Arena, and for the hundreds of you in attendance at a record VNC4, you will be part of the most provocative discussions this industry will undertake all year. We’ve been gratified to note the packed houses at sports and music events around the country (and, increasingly, the world) that herald a transition from the doldrums of lockdown to the launch of an exciting era of new horizons in live entertainment events. Perhaps more than anything else in this remarkable resiliency that is 2021, the ribbon cutting of the sparkling, precedent-setting Climate Pledge Arena, followed by a packed Seattle Kraken match, a thrilling concert by Coldplay, and a forward-looking industry gathering in VenuesNow Conference signals to the world at large: We. Are. Back!