Oak View Group (OVG) recently announced respected venue management executive John Bolton, CVE, has joined the company as senior vice president of entertainment and general manager of the new arena at Agua Caliente in Palm Springs. Based in Palm Springs, Bolton assumes his new role effective immediately.

Reporting to Stephen Collins, chief operating officer, OVG, Bolton will be part of the company’s senior leadership team and will support all OVG venues in driving entertainment and programming content. Bolton will assist in developing grand opening and entertainment plans for OVG’s eight new arena projects as well as working with OVG’s current venues under management. 

“John brings decades of industry expertise, and throughout his career, has played an integral role in building world-class successful venues. We are very pleased to welcome him to our team,” said Tim Leiweke, CEO of Oak View Group. “As general manager, John will bring passion, energy, and vision to the arena in Palm Springs, and I look forward to his contributions in the years to come.”

As general manager of the Palm Springs arena, Bolton will oversee the development and opening of Southern California’s newest arena. The Palm Springs arena will be home to the recently announced American Hockey League (AHL) expansion team, an owned-and-operated affiliate of the Seattle NHL team that also begins play during the 2021-22 NHL season. Groundbreaking and construction on the $250 million arena in downtown Palm Springs will begin in February 2020 with completion in the fall of 2021. 

“Nothing could be more exciting to me than being part of OVG’s unprecedented number of new arena projects both nationally and internationally,” commented Bolton. “To have a role in developing the new arena in Palm Springs is a dream come true as I have always loved Palm Springs. I can’t wait to become involved in the community there and develop another unique and iconic arena,” added Bolton. 

“We’re thrilled to have John playing a key role in our business development efforts as we aspire to partner with the best facilities around the world. John will also play a crucial role in our event and content innovation strategy, said Peter Luukko, co-chairman of OVG Facilities and Alliances. 

“Bolton is a key ingredient to building a top-notch team for this world-class facility,” said Chairman Jeff L. Grubbe, of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians. “We are excited about the energy this new arena will bring to the revitalization efforts in Downtown Palm Springs.”

Prior to his role with OVG, Bolton served as vice president of entertainment for ASM Global. As part of the corporate team at SMG Entertainment, Bolton worked with stadiums and arenas across the country to present over 32,000 live events annually. Bolton supervised a national network of regional marketing directors who were responsible for some 140 arena marketing professionals. 

In addition to his previous role as general manager for SMG in Tulsa, where he was entrusted to oversee the final phases of construction and grand opening of one of SMG’s premier arenas – Tulsa’s BOK Center, Bolton acted as regional vice president for SMG for its venues in Puerto Rico and the West Coast. Bolton was responsible for creating five new festivals and events in Tulsa that attract more than 200,000 people per year, and through his vision, this previously underserved market became a “must play” stop for national touring artists and family shows. His effort led to a nomination for Pollstar’s “Best New Major Concert Venue” and subsequent nominations for Pollstar’s “Arena of the Year” every year he was general manager.   Bolton and the BOK Center were awarded the prestigious IAVM (International Association of Venue Managers) Venue Excellence Award recognizing the Top Arena in the World.   

Bolton earned “Venue Executive of the Year” recognition from the International Entertainment Buyers Association (IEBA) in 2011 and from Pollstar in 2012, as well the “Venue Excellence Award” from IAVM in 2011. He is also a three-time winner of Venues Today Hall of Headlines Award (2008, 2013, and 2015).

Bolton recently served as chair of the Board of Directors (2013-14) for the IAVM. Bolton also serves on the Executive Committee and Board of IEBA as well as on the Board of Directors of the Country Music Association (CMA) located in Nashville.