On-Site Magazine

Breaking ground on Hamilton Arena

By Adam Freill   

Commercial Construction

Oak View Group marks start of renovations to transform FirstOntario Centre into a world-class entertainment and sports venue.

Left to Right: Left to Right: Tom Pistore (Oak View Group), P.J. Mercanti (Hamilton Urban Precinct Entertainment Group), Tim Leiweke (Oak View Group), Andrea Horwath (City of Hamilton), Riley O’Connor (Live Nation Canada) and Peter Luukko (Oak View Group). (SOURCE: Oak View Group)

Major renovations have officially kicked off at FirstOntario Centre in Hamilton. Sports and live entertainment venue developer Oak View Group (OVG) recently held a special ground-breaking event to start the transformation of the arena into a state-of-the-art venue.

The reimagined facility, which first opened as Copps Coliseum in 1985, will serve as the centerpiece in revitalizing Hamilton as a premier music, sports and entertainment destination for southwestern Ontario in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton area. Partners, stakeholders, and community leaders attended the event.

“We’ve been a long-standing partner of the City of Hamilton through our management of the arena, generating considerable momentum to where we are today and are now positioned to deliver to the people of Hamilton a truly world-class, live entertainment facility,” said Tim Leiweke, chairman and CEO of OVG. “Upon completion of this truly transformative investment, the Hamilton Arena will generate substantial economic velocity and serve as a catalyst to the downtown core via the hosting of premier touring acts, family shows, and all types of sporting events.”

The $280 million renovation will transform the facility into a modernized venue with a focus on enhancing the guest experience. Renovations will include the addition of premium seating, clubs, lounges and suites, enhanced acoustics to amplify the listening experience, next generation touchless and self-serve technologies for food and beverage purchases, and upgraded concourses and concession areas. Additional upgrades to the venue’s back of house include specially designed artist lounges, upgraded production facilities, electrical and lighting upgrades as well as updates to the arena’s telecommunications infrastructure, wireless network, and video, network and security systems.


“We’re investors in this market for the long haul and are thrilled at the prospect of replicating the success of our other owned and operated facilities in Hamilton,” added Leiweke. “We are facility owners and operators every day focused on driving event volume and activity for the city and its people. We have great partners helping us bring this project fully to life and are already looking and planning ahead to the arena’s re-opening.”

“I am thrilled the ground breaking for the massive re-development of our downtown Hamilton Arena has arrived,” said City of Hamilton Mayor Andrea Horwath. “This investment by international entertainment leader OVG in our city, and downtown core, will put Hamilton firmly on the map as a world-class sports and entertainment destination, spurring job creation, economic revitalization and attracting new visitors to our great city.”

The Hamilton Arena, to be designed by Brisbin Brook Beynon Architects, is part of a larger downtown revitalization project known as “The Commons,” which includes the newly reimagined arena, renovated convention centre, significant investments in the Art Gallery of Hamilton and concert hall facilities, as well as new residential, office, and retail space development. The Commons project is managed by the Hamilton Urban Precinct Entertainment Group (HUPEG). EllisDon is overseeing construction for the renovation project, which is expected to reopen in the fall of 2025.




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