West Conshy-based SMG arena management giant sold to Toronto's Onex

There’s a new owner, again, for SMG Holdings – one of the two huge public facility management service companies founded and based locally and the manager for “nearly 240” venues worldwide. These include regional landmarks like the Pennsylvania Convention Center, the McCormick Place in Chicago, and Moscone Center in San Francisco.

The Canadian private equity firm Onex Corp. has agreed to buy SMG in partnership with its existing management team from Northlane Capital Partners, so SMG is anticipated to maintain global headquarters in West Conshohocken. Terms of the purchase were not shared.

“SMG is the global gold standard in venue management,” Amir Motamedi, a managing director with Onex, said in a statement.

SMG chief executive officer Harold L “Wes” Wesley  Jr. commented: “Onex values the deep relationships our general managers have cultivated within the municipalities we serve, and its ownership mentality and long-term focus make it an ideal partner for us.”

The company’s suite of services allows venue owners to outsource all facets of day-to-day operations, including facility staffing and training, food and beverage, event booking and management, event promotion, exhibitor services, financial management, and ongoing maintenance.

Its client roster touts revenue relationships with six NFL stadiums, two NBA arenas, and about a dozen major college facilities. SMG Europe steers a dozen facilities including arenas in England, Northern Ireland, and Germany.

SMG traces its history back to 1977, then known as Spectacor Management Group, when the local arena and sports franchise holder Ed Snider decided to spread his Spectrum arena team’s expertise, initially with the management of the Louisiana Superdome.

Shortly after the 1997 Comcast buy-in that changed the parent company name to Comcast-Spectacor, SMG was spun off to the Hyatt Hotel Co. and Aramark Corp., with then-Aramark exec Wesley moving over to run the venue management operation. It changed hands again in 2007, acquired by American Capital for a reported $631 million. Then it shifted ownership twice this year as Ares Capital closed a deal for American Capital (but spun off  SMG to Northlane, reported Sports Business Journal).

Curiously, the terms of SMG’s initial sale to Hyatt and Aramark allowed Snider to launch a competitive venture, Global Spectrum. Based at the South Philadelphia sports complex, it is now called Spectra by Comcast Spectacor and boasts “more than 300 clients” delivering “live event experiences at  400 global properties” including Wells Fargo Center, Citizens Bank Park, the AC Convention Center, Boardwalk Hall, and the Delaware Speedway.