OverActive Media plans for lakefront entertainment venue take a step forward

·2 min read

TORONTO — OverActive Media has moved a step closer to getting its plan for a new entertainment venue at Toronto's Exhibition Place off the ground.

The esports and entertainment company got the green light from the Exhibition Place board of governors on Friday, with approval for the plan and lease. The project will now go to Toronto City Council for final approval.

"We are hoping it will be this year," Chris Overholt, president and CEO of Overactive Media said of that hurdle.

When the Library Collection of Hotels received permission to build the Hotel X at Exhibition Place, it also got the green light for a subsequent development/hotel complex there. OverActive is now working with Henry Kallan, owner of the Library Hotel Collection, on that development with its focus on the entertainment venue part of the plan.

With a projected completion date of 2025, the 7,200-seat venue is expected to host everything from esports to music and fashion events.

"It's a performance venue. We expect we can do as many as 180 to 200 nights a year in there," said Overholt.

"This is our step forward into the entertainment space … that will allow us to compete every day every week to attract the top-name artists that land in the Toronto market," he added.

OverActive, which will not be involved in ownership of the hotel, plans to partner with a company to operate the entertainment venue.

The original budget for the overall project was said to be close to $500 million. Overholt said that number will be smaller thanks to "tremendous efficiencies in venue design," but said it was too early to settle on a final figure. The project is being privately financed.

OverActive's owners include Toronto Maple Leafs forward Mitch Marner, music star The Weeknd, Pittsburgh Penguins part-owner Mike Kimel and tech entrepreneur Sheldon Pollack, among others.

The company has raised $108 million privately, including $40 million by taking the company public on the TSX Venture Exchange in July.

"The sports, media and entertainment choices of this generation are changing right before our eyes and OverActive Media certainly expects to be in the middle of that economy and that industry opportunity in the years ahead," said Overholt.

OverActive owns esports franchises in the Overwatch League (Toronto Defiant), Call of Duty League (Toronto Ultra), European League of Legends (MAD Lions, playing out of Spain) and Counter Strike: Global Offensive (also MAD Lions).

Exhibition Place is a 78-hectare site on Toronto's waterfront that hosts the annual Canadian National Exhibition as well as BMO Field, the home of Major League Soccer's Toronto FC and the CFL's Toronto Argonauts.

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 29, 2021.

Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press

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