The H.N. and Frances C. Berger Foundation, a private foundation that supports educational and other charitable projects, and Oak View Group (OVG), the global venue development, advisory, and investment company for the sports and live entertainment industries, have announced their partnership to build a state-of-the-art, privately financed sports and entertainment arena on private land owned by the foundation near Palm Desert.
“We look forward to working with all stakeholders in doing everything possible at the county level to be helpful and supportive. Along with county staff from the Transportation & Land Management Agency, my office has been in discussions with the visionaries of the project to bring world-class hockey to the region. Our hope is that this project becomes a reality for our Coachella Valley region, which will also have a positive quality of life impact for the entire county,” says Riverside County Fourth District Supervisor, V. Manuel Perez.
Located on 43.35 acres of land at Interstate 10 and Cook Street, in Riverside County, the arena will be more than 300,000 square feet and feature 10,000-plus seats and include modern suites and premium hospitality clubs. It will be the home of the Seattle Kraken’s American Hockey League (AHL) team and will include an adjoining facility that will serve as a year-round community gathering space and the training center for the AHL team.
As previously announced in September 2019, the arena was originally to be located on 16 acres of tribal land in Downtown Palm Springs belonging to the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians.
“After more than a year of good faith negotiations we were unable to finalize an agreement with the Agua Caliente tribal leaders for OVG to lease, develop and operate the privately funded arena,” says Tim Leiweke, CEO of Oak View Group. “We appreciate the ongoing support and encouragement from the community and are very pleased to be partnering with the Berger Foundation who share our vision for creating a world-class venue for the Coachella Valley and what will be one of the most premier music and professional sports arenas in the world.”
“As a local La Quinta resident, I am excited about having a world-class arena built,” adds Irving Azoff, co-founder of Oak View Group. “The venue will be a major must-play destination for top talent and be the ultimate fan-friendly showcase for both valley’s sports and entertainment attendees.”
“The Berger Foundation has always seen the potential of this property. We prepared the land many years ago for a project exactly like this arena and ancillary businesses and have since been actively seeking developers to create a world-class campus for the Coachella Valley and its visitors. We are deeply invested in seeing this project through as the benefits to the community are vast, including permanent jobs and activities for our area’s children and families,” says Douglass A. Vance, vice president of real estate for the H.N. and Frances C. Berger Foundation.
The Seattle Kraken’s AHL Franchise, led by David Bonderman and OVG, will play in the new arena once construction is complete.
Groundbreaking and construction are scheduled for 2021. The arena is expected to open in the last quarter of 2022.
“On behalf of David Bonderman and our ownership group we are excited to share this vision of a championship AHL Franchise in a spectacular arena in one of the most beautiful communities,” says Tod Leiweke, CEO of the Seattle Kraken. “This new arena will offer a great game day experience from parking to puck drop and house a state-of-the-art training center. We will engage our fans in the Valley starting with the Kraken’s launch in 2021 as we sequentially build toward the launch of our AHL franchise.”
Live Nation Entertainment, the world’s leading live entertainment company, will continue to work as a strategic partner and supply the new arena with its large stable of top touring artists and premium live events.
“We’re proud to work with Oak View Group and the Berger Foundation on what will no doubt be an amazing venue. This new arena creates the opportunity for the whole region to enjoy incredible concerts and our entire touring team is truly excited and looking forward to delivering a significant calendar of annual concert events,” says Bob Roux, president of Live Nation, U.S. Concerts.
The arena will also include the new AHL Team Hockey Training Center, which will be used by the public for youth hockey, figure skating, and adult ice skating. The Coachella Valley’s last ice skating rink, the Desert Castle, located in Cathedral City, closed its doors in March after 10 years. The new facility will allow area figure skaters to continue to train while eliminating the need to commute to facilities in neighboring areas.
In addition to sports and entertainment, the arena will accommodate conventions, large meetings, international events, as well as award shows and exhibitions.