HOK Sport Venue Event, a major sports facility design firm based in Kansas City, will split from its parent, HOK Group Inc., following a company buyout by a management team.

The deal, announced August 28, will be completed by early 2009 with HOK Sport acquiring a new brand name. The firm has been part of HOK Group for 25 years, although it has been a wholly owned subsidiary since 2000. The split involves HOK Sport’ 10 top managers buying the value of their firm’s stock from HOK Group. “This is a logical step that will free all of us to focus on core practices,” says Clark Davis, HOK vice chairman.

HOK Sport, which represents about 20 percent of HOK’s revenues, is behind many high-profile sports arenas, including the new Yankee Stadium, Washington Nationals Park, the Cleveland Browns Stadium, and Reliant Stadium in Houston. It also designs convention centers, such as the Phoenix Convention Center and the George R. Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco.

Joe Spear, senior principal of HOK Sports, says one advantage of the split is that his firm was “not in control of stocks and options,” and being independent will give it more leeway in rewarding strong performers. Moreover, he adds, “we’re specialized and they are generalized,” so working separately makes sense.

Spear said his group has retained a financial adviser but declined to provide a name. The two companies have worked out a plan to gradually move apart within the next five years. The first step, he explains, is for HOK Sport to come up with a new brand name and logo.

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