The Ernest N. Morial New Orleans Exhibition Hall Authority has named Michael J. Sawaya as president and general manager of the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center and executive vice president of the Authority. He succeeds Robert L. “Bob” Johnson, who retired on September 25 after 10 years of service.
“We could not be more pleased with the selection of Michael Sawaya to lead our Convention Center to its next level of success,” said Melvin Rodrigue, Authority president. “He comes to New Orleans with a skill set and experiences that are the right fit at the right time. He recently led the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center through a major renovation, including the development of a convention headquarters hotel, that has shined a bright light on San Antonio as a major convention destination. The Authority had an impressive slate of candidates to choose from in a nationwide search. The Selection Committee and my fellow Commissioners were very diligent in making the right choice.”
Sawaya, a 40-year veteran of the hospitality industry, comes to New Orleans from San Antonio, TX, where he served as Executive Director of the Convention and Sports Facilities (CSF) Department for the City of San Antonio. In his role as Executive Director, he oversaw operations of the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, Lila Cockrell Theatre, Alamodome, and Asset Management and ground lease management for the Nelson Wolfe Baseball Stadium, Toyota Field Soccer Stadium, and the Grand Hyatt Hotel.
Sawaya’s career with the City of San Antonio began in 2003, when he was hired to merge the Convention Facilities and Alamodome departments. Most recently, he directed the $325 million expansion of the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center – the largest single capital improvement project in the history of the City of San Antonio, and recently completed a $60 million renovation of the Alamodome. He served as Interim Aviation Department Director from 2008 – 2009 before returning to his role as Executive Director of the CSF Department in 2009.
Before joining the City of San Antonio, he served as General Manager of the Omni Severin Hotel in Indianapolis, IN, the Omni San Antonio Hotel, and 11 other hotels around the country. He also served as Chairman of the San Antonio Convention and Visitors Commission, President of the San Antonio Hotel and Lodging Association, as an executive committee member of the San Antonio Area Tourism Council, and on the board of directors of the Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce.
“I am thrilled at the opportunity to lead the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center and to become a part of the New Orleans community,” said Sawaya. “New Orleans’ storied reputation as a world-class city and convention destination make it the ideal fit for me and my family, and I am excited about the vision for the future that together we will execute over the course of my tenure.”
Venue Solutions Group (www.venuesolutionsgroup.com), an industry leader in operational consulting to the public assembly facility industry, announced that registration is now open for the 2018 Venue Operations Summit (www.venueopssummit.com). The Venue Operations Summit (VOS), now in its fourth year, will take place in Nashville, TN, Sunday, April 29 through Tuesday, May 1, 2018 at the Nashville Downtown Hilton
VOS is the premier industry conference for public assembly facility operations and engineering professionals. This year’s topics include leadership, risk management in housekeeping, vertical transportation maintenance, electrical system management, venue-specific Town Halls, life safety, and much more. Regardless of venue type, attendees can be assured of a program that will provide actionable information to assist them in their facility responsibilities along with very valuable networking opportunities. Keynote speakers include industry veteran Richard Andersen, CFE, who will focus on how to become a better leader.
“We have created a meaningful opportunity for venue operations and engineering staff, employees who are often overlooked when it comes to professional development,” said VSG’s Managing Partner, Russ Simons. “Engineering, maintenance, event setup, security, and housekeeping are all vital components to a successful venue, and they should have the same educational opportunities as the sales, marketing, premium and
box office staff.”
Established in 2015 and held annually in Nashville, Venue Operations Summit fills a special need for shared knowledge, best practices, and networking recognizing an integral workforce element in sports, entertainment, performing arts, and convention facilities. The Summit, spanning three days, includes general sessions and breakouts, as well as tours of local facilities and an Opening Reception for attendees to get to know each other.
Eric Granger, an industry veteran with more than 20 years in the live entertainment, sports and facilities management industries, has been named General Manager of KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, Kentucky. The announcement was made by Bob Newman, President of AEG Facilities, operators of the arena.
“We are thrilled to have Eric join the AEG Facilities and KFC Yum! Center team in Louisville,” said Newman. “Eric brings a great depth of knowledge and industry experience and will play a key role in the continued success and stellar reputation of one of the region’s premier and busiest destinations for sports and entertainment.”
“KFC Yum! Center is pleased to welcome Eric Granger and his family to Kentucky. Eric’s experience and talent will help maintain the arena’s reputation as one of the finest venues in the world,” added Scott C. Cox, Chairman, Louisville Arena Authority.
As General Manager, KFC Yum! Center, Granger will be responsible for the management of all of the arena’s business operations, the creation of new events and the development of new revenue opportunities for the seven-year old, 22,000-seat sports and entertainment arena which serves as the home of the University of Louisville men’s and women’s basketball programs. Granger will also oversee numerous proprietary initiatives of AEG Facilities including AEG S.A.F.E., AEG 1Source, AEG 1EARTH, AEG 1Force, AEG Encore and AEG Energy Services, in addition to working closely with AEG Global Partnerships and other divisions of the company.
Granger will assume the role of General Manager last held by Dennis Petrullo who resigned earlier in the month.
Prior to joining AEG Facilities and KFC Yum! Center, Granger spent seven years serving as the Vice President and General Manager for Memphis, Tennessee’s 18,119-seat FedEx Forum, home to NBA’s Memphis Grizzlies and University of Memphis Tigers in addition to serving as General Manager of the Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio, home of the NHL Blue Jackets.
“I am looking forward to working with the great group of professionals in Louisville with AEG Facilities and the Louisville Arena Authority,” said Granger. “KFC Yum! Center is an incredible facility.”
A graduate of University of South Alabama, Granger assumed his new role on January 1, 2018.
Ungerboeck Software International announced the addition of Brad Nuccio to the company’s sales leadership team. As Director of Strategic Alliances, Nuccio will lead Ungerboeck’s continued focus and customer expansion in the entertainment venues market.
Brad’s depth of experience and breadth of knowledge further deepens Ungerboeck’s commitment to deliver world-class venue management software to the market,” said Eric Kaser, Ungerboeck Vice President of Sales. “We are excited to have Brad engaged in this important market segment, helping us add to the list of clients we currently serve in the NBA, NFL, MLB, as well as arenas, stadia, performing arts and non-profit organizations in the U.S. and abroad.”
Prior to joining Ungerboeck, Nuccio enjoyed a variety of marketing, sales and leadership roles at high-profile entertainment organizations, including Ticketmaster, AEG, SFX, Ogden Entertainment and Clear Channel. His recent position as the Senior Vice President of Museum Enterprises at the Saint Louis Science Center adds to his diverse experience with various segments of the market including arenas, stadia, performing arts and ticketing.
I’ve been very fortunate in my career to have had experiences that offer me a unique vantage point on the business processes, objectives, and metrics of entertainment venues,” Nuccio said. “I’m thrilled to have found an organization so well-suited to delivering tailored solutions for our industry and I look forward to putting my diverse experience to use in helping Ungerboeck better serve our clients.”
Nuccio holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of Northern Colorado and an Executive MBA from the Olin School of Business at Washington University. He resides in Glendale with his wife, Susie, and their four teenage children.
Keri Parker Berry has been named Assistant Director of Convention & Event Services with the City of Arlington, TX. Prior to joining the team at the Arlington Convention Center, she held event and facility management positions with the Irving Convention Center and the Hurst Conference Center.
In her role as assistant director at the ACC, she will oversee day-to-day event and facility operations at the venue, will be responsible for project planning and execution, and will manage continuing renovations and upgrades to the almost 33-year-old facility. Parker Berry will work with city administration with an eye on continued growth in the Entertainment District, including the Live! by Loews hotel, the Texas Live! entertainment complex, and the new Texas Rangers baseball stadium, each currently under construction, as well as the anticipated openings of the Aloft and Drury Plaza hotels, all of which will certainly affect business in and around the Convention Center.
“I am excited to join the team at the Arlington Convention Center and the City of Arlington,” Parker Berry said. “I’m coming into a very stable situation and successful venue model with lots of long-term employees who have worked hard to bring the Arlington Convention Center to where it is today. My hopes are to add to the existing success of the building, and with all the exciting developments in the Entertainment District to take our product to the next level. I am excited to be in a position to help move us further in that new direction.”
Parker Berry resides in Denton with her husband, Sean, and their two young daughters, and has also previously worked on the IAVM staff.