Oak View Group (OVG), the global venue development, advisory, and investment company for the sports and live entertainment industries, today announced the appointment of seasoned sports industry executive Kim Stone as president of UBS Arena and executive vice president of OVG East Coast.
Stone will be based in Belmont Park, New York, and oversee all UBS Arena business and building operations and be responsible for all OVG East Coast Owned & Operated properties, including Baltimore Arena, which is scheduled to open in February 2023.
Stone will report directly to both the board of managers of UBS Arena and Francesca Bodie, president of business development for OVG. She is scheduled to assume her post on August 1. Stone’s appointment represents an additional commitment as OVG continues to grow its workplace diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives through educational programs, creating opportunities for women/minority businesses, expanding resources for employees, and more.
Irving Azoff, co-founder of OVG said, “I’m proud of the work OVG has done through its diversity and inclusion initiatives and the impact it’s had across our entire organization. Kim is a strong addition to our all-star senior management team, and I’m pleased to welcome her to OVG.”
“The New York Islanders, as a partner in UBS Arena, are delighted and honored to welcome Kim Stone to our family,” said Scott Malkin, co-owner of the New York Islanders. “Her commitment to excellence, in every step of her career, sets the standard for our organization.”
“We’re building one of the most dynamic and diverse teams in the industry, and Kim’s joining OVG plays a critical role in not only ensuring we’re hiring the best talent, but we’re working closely with the communities where we do business,” said Tim Leiweke, chairman & CEO of Oak View Group. “Kim is an excellent fit to lead our world-class organization at both UBS Arena and OVG East coast venues and I’m thrilled to have her join the OVG team.”
As part of her new role with OVG, Stone will oversee and implement the strategic plan for UBS Arena and its surrounding area, drive profitability with a specific focus on premium sales, corporate sales, and event booking, and drive ticket sales for all events to a level that ranks UBS Arena among the top venues in the nation.
During her illustrious career in professional sports, Stone has served in executive leadership roles with the Miami Heat and Golden State Warriors. Her experience touches almost every aspect of team business, including strategic oversight of revenue-generating functions such as corporate partnerships, food and beverage, season ticket renewals, and concert programming, as well as establishing award-winning arena operations teams responsible for running two of the world’s best sports and entertainment arenas.
“I’m delighted to welcome Kim to the team and look forward to seeing her take UBS Arena to new heights as we continue to build stellar momentum at OVG,” said Bodie. “Additionally, diversity is one of OVG’s four core pillars, and instilling the values of equity and inclusiveness within our culture has been crucial in helping build a stronger team and Kim is a key component of that growth.”
Stone commented, “I’m excited to join Tim Leiweke, Francesca Bodie, Scott Malkin, Jon Ledecky, and the incredibly talented team at UBS Arena and Oak View Group. OVG’s incredible growth in all venue platforms has been unsurpassed.
UBS Arena has transformed the music and professional hockey experience in New York with unique, world-class amenities. Having led our DE&I initiatives in Miami, I understand deeply that a commitment to diversity unlocks immense value for our staff, our business, and the community we serve. We will build upon our early success at UBS since its November 2021 opening and continue to reimagine what is possible in the vibrant New York Metro area and for OVG on the East Coast.”
The hire makes Stone the first female president of an OVG arena. As a key component of OVG’s DE&I initiatives, 50% of OVG’s six owned and operated venues have a diverse leader at the top, being either female or a member of the LGBTQIA+ community. OVG’s DE&I program is executed by Dr. Debonair Oates-Primus, vice president of diversity, equity, and inclusion, who oversees DE&I-related strategies, partnerships, programs, and initiatives, under the leadership of Ann Jackson, OVG’s chief people and culture officer.
OVG recent diversity initiatives include:
- Partnership with Seattle University on a graduate program focusing on introducing more diverse students into the live event industry. The program is in its initial year with the first students having started in Fall 2021. Additional programs with other universities are also being discussed.
- 50% of the 2022 corporate summer interns are made up of diverse students.
- The Executive Committee is 50% female, with 1/3 hired within the past year.
- OVG-owned UBS Arena is the home of the NY Islanders, which is the first NHL team to have three women on its broadcast team.
- 17% of corporate leaders are people of color, inclusive of 33% on the Executive Committee; 27% are female.
- Partnering with HBCUs (historically black colleges and universities) located within the communities OVG serves, to support its internship program and create a hiring pipeline.
- OVG-owned and operated venues employ 30% people of color and 34% female.
- Working with Third Eye Consulting Group, a women/minority business enterprise (W/MBE), on educational DE&I training for the entire company.
- An added diversity statement on all job postings.
- OVG currently offers four employee resource groups (ERGs): Women’s Network, Black Oaks Network, Pride, and Hispanic Latin Alliance. Each ERG is supported by an executive sponsor, budgets for programming as well as a 15-member executive caucus that includes presidents and leaders within OVG.
“Since joining OVG in 2021, I’ve worked with the leaders to focus us on building a strong and diverse company that reflects the communities where we operate,” said Jackson. “This includes ensuring that the make-up of our internal teams reflect our core DE&I principles and remains a continued focus. With the hiring of Kim and her experience in leading a DE&I function we not only gain a seasoned operator but a DE&I champion.”
Before joining OVG, Stone had returned to the Miami Heat organization in the summer of 2021, where she was the executive vice president, human capital, and special projects. While there she oversaw human resources, culture, and DE&I functions as well as financial and strategic construction oversight of more than $150 million in construction projects designed to modernize the 22-year-old arena.
After Stone’s 23 years with the Miami HEAT organization, she was named the Chase Center general manager in April of 2019 and launched the Warriors’ $1.6 billion Chase Center Arena and retail development. Stone oversaw day-to-day venue operations and was tasked with building an operations team responsible for preparing Chase Center for its inaugural year.
In her 23 years with the Heat, Stone rose through the ranks. She was the executive vice president of business development and responsible for overseeing all ticket and corporate revenues for the team prior to moving to San Francisco. Before that, she served for 13 years as executive vice president & general manager responsible for leading all arena operations and several business areas, including season ticket retention, business intelligence, data analytics, digital strategy and innovation, food and beverage, event production, and operations, and guest services. The arena was named the NBA’s Best Arena Experience in 2016-17 by the NBA. Under her guidance, in 2014, the facility became the world’s first sports and entertainment facility to achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold. In addition to producing sold-out shows every year, Stone hosted four consecutive NBA Finals (2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014), and the venue consistently ranked as the No. 1 arena in Florida and top 10 in the USA, according to Pollstar. Hired initially into the sports media relations department, Stone also lead the organization’s efforts to launch the WNBA’s Miami Sol and served as chief of staff to HEAT president, business operations, Eric Woolworth.
In addition to Stone’s appointment, UBS Arena’s Hank Abate, president of arena operations, moves into a new role as president of OVG360 venue management, northeast region. UBS Arena assistant general manager, Michael Sciortino, has been upped to general manager reporting to Kim. Stone replaces former UBS Arena president Tom Pistore who will now lead OVG’s newly announced corporate office in Toronto, Canada as its first president. The appointments come on the heels of OVG’s recent opening of Moody Center, its $375 million, 15,000+ seat premier venue at the University of Texas in Austin, TX; the launch of its newest division, OVG Canada; the unveiling of OVG’s plans to build an entertainment district in Las Vegas including an arena, casino, and a luxury boutique hotel; and the groundbreaking of the city-owned Baltimore Arena, a $200 million privately funded 12-month redevelopment project of the 60-year-old arena, formerly known as the Baltimore Civic Center and Royal Farms Arena.
UBS Arena at Belmont Park is made for music and built for hockey. New York’s newest premier entertainment and sports venue and home of the New York Islanders is developed in partnership with Oak View Group, the New York Islanders, and Jeff Wilpon. Providing a significant boost to the regional economy, the world-class entertainment venue, with its timeless and classic design, bridges its iconic past with today’s advanced technology and amenities.