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Overholt Says Vision for OverActive Media Group is Becoming Reality

After two major announcements in recent months, OverActive Media CEO Chris Overholt says the vision to turn the company into the next Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment or Madison Square Garden Co. is turning to reality, SBJ’s Adam Stern reports.

 OAM owns several teams in esports including the two Toronto teams in Activision Blizzard’s franchised leagues as well as the popular Mad Lions organization that is based in Spain and competes in the League of Legends European series, the LEC. 

 First, in late February, OAM unveiled plans for a $500M, 7,000-seat venue at Exhibition Place in Toronto. The arena will be the home to the Toronto Ultra of the Call of Duty League and the Toronto Defiant of the Overwatch League, but OAM is also aiming for it to address what it perceives as a market gap in the city for mid-sized venues for music concerts among other events. 

 Then, in early March, OAM announced that it had entered into a deal with Abigail Capital Corp. to go public on the TSX Venture Exchange, a stock exchange in Canada.

 Asked about OAM’s goals, Overholt cited a comment from former MLSE President & CEO Richard Peddie from his time working with that company. Overholt recalled that Peddie told his employees that the teams “are the engine from which we draw energy and attachment to our fans, build affinity and emotional connection, and that’s the lever we use to drive our business every day.”

“We don’t think any differently,” Overholt said. “We’re building a sustainable business that is going to look like a traditional sport with all the same trappings and business opportunities, so we think of ourselves as building an MSG or an MLSE except with esports at our core.”

To that point, Overholt says he plans to get back to holding live events for his OWL and CDL teams when possible, and that he is “no less committed to the idea of live events” than when OAM first bought into the leagues with the idea that home/away games would be a weekly in-season feature much like stick and ball sports. 

 Exactly how many live events will be held in those leagues in the coming years has been a source of debate after Activision Blizzard Esports laid off its live events staff and President of Sports & Entertainment Tony Petitti told SBJ/TEO that the moves were in part because its future will be less dependent on live events. Some industry executives have told SBJ/TEO that different franchises may take varying approaches in the future, with some looking to get back to holding several live events a season and others hosting little to none. Still, nothing official has been announced on that end.

 Overholt noted that OAM has only invested in franchised leagues, specifically, so that it can try to structure its business in a way similar to traditional sports, which he and other company executives are familiar with. Overholt also has former stops with the Florida Panthers, Miami Dolphins and Canadian Olympic Committee.

 “Our business is getting better and stronger every day,” Overholt said. “We invested in franchised league positions to enjoy a very specific business model.”

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