GREENSBORO MEANS GO: A view of the player entrance ahead of the first round of the ACC Women’s Basketball Tournament at Greensboro Coliseum in North Carolina.  (Getty Images)

After 65 years of operating the Greensboro Coliseum Complex, the Greensboro City Council unanimously agreed Tuesday night to turn over management and booking services of the multi-venue campus as well as the downtown Steven Tanger Center for Performing Arts to Oak View Group.

Oak View Group is parent company to Pollstar and VenuesNow.

“We don’t take that decision lightly,” said Larry Davis, Greensboro’s assistant city manager. “In the time, that we have spent with [OVG], I have come to believe that they respect what we have accomplished to this point, but they are what we need if we want to do better. We have maxed out what an independently managed facility can do. There are benefits of having a partner like OVG that we can’t duplicate on our own. OVG is the right partner at the right time.”

Matt Brown, managing director of the Greensboro Coliseum Complex for 30 years and the Steven Tanger Center for Performing Arts since it opened in 2021, retires this year and made turning over the reins to private management part of his succession plan. Oak View Group was selected after a successful bid following an extensive procurement process. OVG Hospitality is already the food service provider at the complex and Tanger Center.

“Greensboro is an iconic market that has done well over the years and I want to acknowledge the great work that Matt Brown and that team have done to date,” said Greg O’Dell, president of venue management for OVG360, a division of Oak View Group. “For us, we saw this as an incredible opportunity to amplify what they are doing today and be able to bring even more content particularly given our reach.”

The Greensboro/Winston-Salem market is the No. 39 concert market in the country, according to data from Pollstar. Charlotte is ranked No. 19 and Raleigh/Durham is No. 30, creating a vibrant concert triangle in the state. Greensboro is roughly 80 minutes from both Charlotte to the south and Raleigh to the east.

“We punch above our weight, but we need a partner like [OVG] to continue to do that,” offered Davis.

O’Dell said, “It is a very strong region with great demographics that will allow for any premier artist to route multiple shows and dates in that region,” said O’Dell. “We are confident that Greensboro will get its share and certainly the strength of the region will support that.”

The Tanger Center and nine venues that make up the Greensboro Coliseum Complex offer a wide range of booking options for sports, entertainment and special events.

The first and biggest venue at the complex is the 22,000-seat Greensboro Coliseum, which opened in 1959 and boasts a storied history of hosting prestigious sporting events and legendary artists.

The Complex also includes the 167,000-square foot Special Events Center, which has three exhibit halls; White Oak Amphitheatre, with a capacity of 2,000 stadium seats and 5,000 on the lawn; Piedmont Hall, a club-style, live music space; the Novant Health Fieldhouse, which is home to Greensboro Swarm of the NBA G League; Greensboro Aquatic Center, which has three pools; The Terrace banquet hall; the 300-capacity Odeon Theatre; and the ACC Hall of Champions, which opened in 2011 and celebrates the city’s long history with the conference.

The ACC Women’s basketball tournament tips off at the Greensboro Coliseum this week. The women’s championship series has been held at the Coliseum 12 times since 2000. The men’s series has been hosted by the venue 23 times since 1967.

“Greensboro is a mecca of college sports when you think about college basketball and the great history with the ACC,” said O’Dell, who lived in Greensboro during middle school and honed his basketball skills at the local YMCA. “We want to do everything we can to amplify that leveraging the relationships we have in collegiate and professional sports.”

With a capacity of 3,000, the Tanger Center is a state-of-the-art theater that has hosted more than 1 million patrons for touring Broadway productions, concerts, the Greensboro Symphony Orchestra and family entertainment since opening in downtown Greensboro two years ago.

“It is a unique market,” O’Dell said. “To have that multitude of venues ranging in scale and size, will allow us to really bring rich and diverse variety of programming to all those venues.”

Planning will begin immediately to ensure a smooth transition for Greensboro Coliseum Complex and Tanger Center. Davis hopes to have an agreement in principal before the end of the month, while OVG and the city negotiate the details with a formal transition on July 1, which is the start of the city’s fiscal year.

Scott Johnson, deputy director in Greensboro, has served as second in command to Brown for more than 30 years, and it’s unclear whether he will be promoted to managing director.

“It’s not a case of cleaning house,” said Davis said. “My fingers are crossed that every city employee will accept the OVG offer and remain at the facility. I think that’s the best for all parties.”

OVG  is looking at capital investments and bringing in bigger names and potential naming rights to the table, which can could drive additional revenue for Greensboro.

“We have an amazing global partnership group that does naming rights and sponsorships and so given the iconic market, given the diversity of the venues, we think it’s a very attractive opportunity for partners,” O’Dell said.

OVG “spoke eloquently and with great passion about their ability to make us part of those national conversations about naming rights, sponsorships rights and being at the table when they are considering underwriting national and international concert tours,” Davis explained.

Equally important to Davis and the city was OVG’s commitment to serving the community over the bottom line.

“The facility has a long history of community engagement,” Davis said. “We were very clear up front; we do graduations, smaller events and a variety of things that may not be the best thing for the bottom line, but it is what the community expects and that has to continue and they said, ‘Absolutely.’ That spoke volumes to us.”

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated.