In addition to her ongoing responsibility for capital investment strategy and mergers and acquisitions, Bodie will lead the company in building processes across human resources, finance, legal, and marketing to fuel the continued growth of OVG. Based in Denver, Bodie will report to Tim Leiweke, chairman and CEO of Oak View Group.
The International Association of Venue Managers (IAVM), a member of the Fix the Tix Coalition, announced that they are pleased the House Energy and Commerce Committee voted today to unanimously report out The Ticket Act, H.R. 3950, which will now head to the floor of the House of Representatives for a vote.
“We applaud the Committee for recognizing that significant problems exist in ticketing and working with IAVM to help fix them,” stated Brad Mayne, CVE, IAVM President and CEO. “Venues are on the front line of the ticketing debate and deal directly with consumers harmed by a reckless secondary ticketing system driven solely by profits. Addressing these problems would get at the root cause of escalating ticket prices and allow more consumers to experience the joy of live entertainment at a fair price point per the artist’s request.”
In September, David Touhey, CVE, represented IAVM while testifying at the Innovation, Data and Commerce subcommittee hearing on ticketing legislation. He urged the subcommittee to pass a single bill that requires disclosure of ticketing fees, a ban on speculative or fake tickets, and a ban on the use of deceptive URLs and websites by ticket resellers. The Ticket Act, H.R. 3950, as amended by the House Energy and Commerce Committee achieves these goals.
“I’m so happy to see that the items that I proposed during my testimony on behalf of IAVM and Fix the Tix Coalition to protect our fans in the ticket purchasing process were incorporated into the bill approved by the House Energy and Commerce Committee,” said Touhey. “During my testimony, I emphasized the need for a ban on speculative tickets and deceptive websites. It’s incredible to see the Energy and Commerce committee add those items to The Ticket Act. This will help protect our fans and ticket buyers.”
“IAVM congratulates the Committee for this accomplishment and pledges to work tirelessly for its members and member venues until The Ticket Act, H.R. 3950, is enacted into law,” emphasized Mayne.
Gareth James left an amazing legacy in the venue industry. He was, in effect, the Charles A. McElravy of the Venue Management Association of Australia. Just as McElravy saw a need of an association of auditorium managers in 1924, if for no other reason than to exchange ideas and viewpoints related to facility management, resulting in what is now IAVM, James did likewise.
As per Linton Lethlean’s detailed obituary of the visionary and industry leader, who passed away Nov. 18, James “envisaged that an Association of those involved in the venue management industry, particularly sports stadiums and entertainment centres, would provide an opportunity for its members to share their knowledge and experience in the management issues they dealt with on a daily basis.”
That vision resulted in formation of the VMA.
A leader at venues from Melbourne to Sydney, most recently Olympic Park Trust in Melbourne from 1997 until his retirement in 2005, James mentored many in the industry. His contributions and extraordinary life story are detailed in Lethlean’s collaborative goodbye, found below
Gareth Anthony William James
3 May 1949 – 18 November 2023
Gareth was the son of RAF pilot Hugh Glanffrywd James and Elizabeth James (nee Jones) and had three siblings Robert, Jennifer & Jeffrey and two half siblings Sarah and Huw. His dad’s official log book records the birth at 11.35 Zulu. That note explains Gareth’s later attention to detail!
Brother Jeff describes his and Gareth’s siblings’ childhood as peripatetic moving every two years around RAF bases in southern England including a two year stint in Alaska during the 1950’s. During his school years he moved from Kesgrave Prep in Woodbridge Suffolk to boarding at Christ College Brecon some 65kms north of Penarth, Cardiff in Wales where the family had settled in 1962. This movement according to Jeff disrupted his education much to Gareth’s chagrin but it also inspired his zealous appetite for learning, history and literature and wider horizons (and partly explains his zealous endeavors to establish the VMS in later years).
Whilst not a sporting hero at school he excelled outside of school hours in yachting, fly fishing, hill walking and cadet training in the Brecon Beacons landscape and was a recipient, along with a small team of boys, of a Duke of Edinburgh Award Gold medal in his final year as an A1 level student which was presented to him at Buckingham Palace.
1968 he started his first job as a trainee clerk with Lloyds Bank in Cardiff and after two years moved to head office in London and stayed there until early 1971.
Gareth was always interested in travel and was inspired by the round the world sailors Francis Chichester and Robert Knox-Johnson and so when he left the bank he hitchhiked to Spain and worked as a barman for close to a year in Lloret de Mar. Returning to the UK in 1972 he worked in a variety of jobs in and around London including a stint with HR Owen the leading Rolls Royce and Bentley dealer and amused himself driving the showroom cars.
Then after a brief working experience in the steelworks in Cardiff as a strike breaker he decided to try his luck in Australia not as a 10 pound Pom but on a self-financed 100 pound fly/sail excursion ticket to Perth via Singapore (where he was subject to a compulsory haircut under the entrance rules of Premier Lee Kwan Yu). After landing in Perth he hitchhiked across the Nullarbor to Sydney and on to Melbourne and so began his career in show business.
After a time in the finance department of JC Williamson Theatres he was transferred to the position of Assistant Manager of the Comedy Theatre in Melbourne. It was here that he was known to wear a purple suit to work on alternative days to his co-worker Fred Hunter wearing it on the other days! Then followed positions with show promoters Kenn Brodziak (of Beatles fame) and Malcom Cooke.
In 1974 he worked as a Tour Manager (treasurer) for a number of Michael Edgley’s shows including Shirley Bassey and the Georgian Dancers, a position he handed over in 1975 to Peter Payne, who later on was one of the early members of the Venue Managers Association. He then became Treasurer/House Manager of the Perth Entertainment Centre from December 1975 to August 1980. He then was appointed Theatre Manager of His Majesty’s Theatre in Perth for twelve months until he returned to the Perth Entertainment Centre as its Manager from August 1981 to June 1983.
It was during those years in Perth that he formed a long term friendship with Stacy Mitchell which endured with her and her four boys up until his death.
In 1983 he returned to Melbourne as Assistant Director at Olympic Park responsible for the management of its Sports and Entertainment Centre and the Glasshouse. In 1984 he was appointed General Manager of the Sydney Entertainment Centre and after two years in that role he returned to Olympic Park as its Chief Executive a position he held for the next ten years until December 1996.
During those early days he was also closely associated with Andrew Guild, Greg Hall, Wayne Stevens, Jim Cranfield and Fred Hunter who retained contact with him in the years to follow.
There was a short period from January 1997 to June of that year when Gareth joined Ogden IFC to manage Stadium Australia in Sydney in the lead up to the Olympics but when the opportunity presented itself to him to manage the amalgamated Olympic Park Trust and Flinders Park – the Melbourne and Olympic Park Trust he returned to Melbourne as CEO of that organization from 1997 until his retirement in 2005. The foundations of the extraordinary sporting and entertainment complex that it is today was laid by Gareth and his team.
The Venue Management Association
It was during the early 80’s, based on his then Australia wide experience in management of venues that Gareth envisaged that an Association of those involved in the venue management industry, particularly sports stadiums and entertainment centres, would provide an opportunity for its members to share their knowledge and experience in the management issues they dealt with on a daily basis.
Having had a number of conversations with various industry participants over a period of time in the mid 80’s he held a meeting at his office at Olympic Park in March 1987 at which 12 entertainment and sporting venue managers considered the establishment of an association.
That initial meeting gave Gareth the green light to go ahead with his plan and led to the first formal conference of venue industry leaders at Olympic Park Melbourne in 1989 from November 6th to November 9th under the banner of The Australian Venue Managers Conference. In that two and one half year period word had spread and ninety one delegates from every State and Territory of Australia were in attendance representing all types of venues, clubs and industry suppliers and contractors. The attendance list reads like a Who’s Who of every manager of every publicly used venue in Australia at the time. And later it drew in members from the Asia Pacific region including, in particular, a number of New Zealanders.
The inaugural address was delivered by Michael Edgley followed by a keynote address by Al Antee, CVE, then President of the International Association of Auditorium Managers (IAAM now IAVM), commencing what was to become a strong connection with that US based organization.
It is fair to say that what was to become the Venue Management Association (the VMA), which today has 1,000+ members, was conceived in 1987 and born in 1989. It is to Gareth James whose vision and commitment brought it about, that credit is due.
Gareth as host and Convenor of the 1989 Conference
Following that conference, plans were put in place for regular events to draw the industry together, and in 1991, the Sydney Entertainment Centre, 1992 Melbourne’s then Flinders Park and 1993 Melbourne’s Royal Exhibition Building hosted a conference followed in 1994 by the Brisbane Entertainment Centre, the Sydney Showgrounds 1995 and the New Zealand’s Wellington Festival & Convention Centre in 1996.
It was in 1992 that the planning committee appointed an exhibition manager for the trade show associated with the conference, which was an important step in developing a revenue base for the VMA. 1992 was also the year the VMA was officially incorporated with Gareth, Shane Hewitt, and the writer being subscribers to the original incorporation documents. Its objective was to provide managers of public assembly facilities in the Asia Pacific region with an organization dedicated to their professional development and to the growth and success of the industry.
Upon incorporation, certain formalities had to be addressed with the appointment/election of directors and office bearers. Many of us assumed that Gareth would put his hand up to lead the VMA as its first President – but Gareth in, what the writer was to see over many years, his typical trademark unassuming way, dismissed that suggestion and suggested that Maddie Whitworth the General Manager of the Sydney Entertainment Centre should get the gig. So high was our regard for both Gareth and Maddie that she took up the role unopposed as the inaugural VMA President leading a team of directors being the late Bob Carr (Secretary), Bill Hindson (Newsletter) Shane Hewitt (Treasurer and Membership Secretary), the writer, John Benett (Q), Gillian Houser (NZ), Jacqueline Kueck (Singapore) & Daryl Cullen (Tas). Other key participants in those early years were the late Lyn Hunter (Vic), Christine Howe (SA), Laurie Jackson (NSW), Len McPherson (SA), Susan Molloy (Vic) Colin Sanders (NSW), Ian Fraser (SA), Rod Pilbeam (Q), Harvey Lister (Q), Lyn Hunter (Vic), Ian Perth (WA), Colin Dyer (NZ), Gordon Ragg (NZ), Michael Ryle (Vic) and Tim Worton (NSW).
And so Gareth, having overseen the establishment of the VMA without seeking any set leadership role, quietly went about putting his stamp on how the VMA should run, sitting unobserved as Vice President and keeping his team in order. The writer followed Maddie in the role the following year only to be tapped on the shoulder two years later and told “it’s Shane Hewitt’s turn”. Such was one’s trust and faith in Gareth’s subtle ability as kingmaker that his views were always accepted. It was only a year or so later when Shane stepped down to take on the Executive Officer role of the VMA that Gareth reluctantly filled the President’s role until the next conference when John Benett who was later to take over from Shane Hewitt as Executive Officer, became President.
By 1994 the future of the VMA was well established and it was in the hands of its members with an active board of Directors and with various subcommittees covering such activities as a newsletter, the school, the convention and trade show, membership, secretarial services and finance. By then Shane Hewitt as Executive Director was also being ably assisted by Sally Greaves in the many administrative tasks.
The leading role he played in the establishment and early management of the VMA was one of Gareth’s three outstanding and significant contributions to the industry.
The Public Venue Management School (VMS)
His second contribution was the implementation of his plan for the establishment of the VMS assisted by academics Jim Kable and Jennifer Radbourne from the Business Faculty of the Queensland University of Technology. It was modeled on the IAVM’s successful Oglebay school. His specially formed subcommittee wasted no time in getting the VMS started in late 1994 at Kooralbyn Resort Hotel some 90 kms inland from the Gold Coast using a team of instructors from within the ranks of the VMA membership and IAVM’s Oglebay school. Participants have been able to enhance their network of professional contacts within the venue industry, learn advanced management practices and leadership.
The International Association of Venue Managers (IAAM – now IAVM)
Gareth’s third contribution was the connection he made with the IAVM (the US/Canada venue managers organisation) and the assistance he obtained from it in those early years.
As regular attendees at the IAVM annual conference and Trade shows Gareth and the writer accepted an invitation to address an IAVM Board meeting in Los Angeles in 1992 to present the VMA case for
IAVM support of the VMA in its formative years. Gareth eloquently presented such a strong case that a succession of IAVM Presidents and lecturers from its school came to Australia for many years. In addition IAVM accepted all VMA members as associate members of IAVM. Subsequently Gareth became so well regarded by the IAVM that he was invited to join its Board as the first non-American mainland Director. Gareth put the International into the IAVM which had a number of overseas members but tended to focus on its USA and Canadian membership and activities.
He forged particularly strong relationships with two of its Presidents, namely the late Dick Walsh from Los Angeles and Dexter King, CVE, from Boise Idaho, so much so that their personal involvement and commitment to the VMA led to them being honoured as Life Members.
That strong bond between the IAVM and the VMA still exists today and memories of those early IAVM contributions namely by Dick & Dexter, Denis Finfrock, CVE, Bob Mayer, CVE, Warren Buckley, Al Antee, CVE, Cliff Wallace, CVE, Dick Shaff, Frank Russo, CVE, John Swinburne and John Christison, CVE, remains today.
The Later Years
After retirement from the Trust he re-joined Ogden IFC as Coordinator of the venue management component for the Singapore Sports Hub Bid in 2006 & 2007 and as a venue development consultant in Abu Dhabi. He was also for a short time the CEO of the statutory authority responsible for the Falls Creek Alpine Region and its facilities.
In about 2004 Gareth had been diagnosed with throat cancer and for nearly 20 years courageously battled the ongoing limitations and afflictions that beset him.
He was the patron of a small group of retired Melbourne based VMA participants (the Feather Dusters) consisting of Shane Hewitt, Peter Payne , John Howie, the writer and Gareth. The group met two or three times a year for lunch at its clubhouse in North Melbourne and Gareth despite his inability to consume anything other than some warm soup and a cup of tea always contributed to the conversation if his raspy vocal cords allowed. He never once looked for pity or sympathy and remained a keen attendee at all times.
As Dexter King recently wrote to John Benett –
“This man Gareth James was truly a visionary and stalwart venue professional with a passion for enhancing both organisation and individual success. He was the standout example of genuine interest of individual and corporate hospitality. A servant leader he widely gained the trust and faith of all his colleagues and acquaintances. We became good friends, allied with a mutual view of what the benefits of a global network of venues might achieve. During my tenure as President and then CEO of IAVM I was often reminded of the foundation that was established by Gareth forming the incredible relationship between VMA and IAVM today. Thank you Gareth. You will be missed and in memory always cherished”.
Apart from family, one’s best friends tend to be those you see on a regular basis where you live, work, or relax. But then there are those keep in touch with after you have gone your separate ways and yet always pick up the conversation where you left off the last time you met. Gareth James was one of those. The VMA, IAVM and all of us, have lost one of our best friends.
And during all those development phases – the formation of the VMA, the establishment of the School and the development of the relationship with IAVM – there was always a shared camaradarie at the conferences and in committees in whatever city they were held. It is summed up in the writer’s view by the title to a great old documentary about the music group the Seekers entitled “Wasn’t that a Time!”.
Notwithstanding the work load, we all had a considerable amount of fun and met new friends in all parts of Australia, the Asia Pacific and North America.
Vale Gareth and thanks for the companionship and the memories.
Mae’n amser i orffwys nawr. (It’s time to rest now)
Obituary written by – Linton R. Lethlean, VMA President 1993 – 1995 (With welcome input from Gareth’s siblings Robert & Jeff James, Stacy Mitchell and VMA friends Peter Payne, Shane Hewitt, Rod Pilbeam, Laurie & Maddie Jackson & Meg Walker).
The Lancaster Event Center celebrated a momentous occasion today with a ribbon-cutting ceremony to mark the official commencement of the $7.125 million 15-year naming rights agreement, which takes effect December 1, 2023. This agreement marks a significant milestone in the Lancaster county fairgrounds’ 22-year history as it rebrands itself as the Sandhills Global Event Center and rebrands its eight largest event spaces. The ceremony also marked the kickoff of a groundbreaking $10 Million Fairgrounds Infrastructure Modernization Project, supported by a $5 million grant from The Nebraska Department of Economic Development and complemented by $5 million in matching funds.
The Sandhills Global Event Center, while continuing to serve as the home of the Lancaster County Super Fair, plays a pivotal role in generating an annual economic impact of up to $72 million in out- of-county/state visitor incremental spending. With approximately 500 event days and up to 600,000 visitors per year, this transformation reaffirms the Sandhills Global Event Center’s position as one of the region’s premier fairground-style event complexes. The first event under the Sandhills Global Event Center name is the Nebraska Ag Expo, the second largest indoor farm show in the nation, utilizing every square inch of the 9.2 acres of indoor space at the Sandhills Global Event Center.
Shawn Peed, Chief Executive Officer of Sandhills Global, expressed his enthusiastic support for this transformative naming partnership featuring a total of eight Sandhills Global brands, stating, “We are thrilled to be part of this exciting chapter as the Sandhills Global Event Center will provide positive impact to our community and our economy. This partnership aligns strongly with our brands, and we look forward to contributing to the ongoing success of this venue.”
Kendra Ronnau, Ag Society President, spoke warmly about the significance of this partnership, saying, “This naming rights partnership connects us back to our roots. It echoes the spirit of our founders from 22 years ago, who set us on this remarkable journey at Lancaster’s county fairgrounds. We’re all about continuously improving the annual Super Fair, nurturing our 4-H, FFA & other local youth year-round, and bringing ag education and community events right to the heart of our local families.”
The venue-specific name changes that underpin this exciting transformation:
• Lancaster Event Center –> Sandhills Global Event Center
• Pavilion 1 –> Currency Pavilion
• Pavilion 2 –> EquineMarket Pavilion
• Pavilion 3 –> LivestockMarket Pavilion
• Pavilion 4 –> TractorHouse Pavilion with Amy Countryman Arena
• Multi-Purpose Arena (MPA) –> FR8Star Pavilion
• Grandstand Arena –> AuctionTime Grandstand Arena
• Campgrounds –> RVUniverse Campgrounds
• Lincoln Room –> Ag Society Hall
In addition to these changes, the Sandhills Global Event Center is embarking on a $10 million infrastructure modernization project to elevate visitor amenities to be completed by 2026. This comprehensive upgrade will encompass improvements such as lighting, digital signage, flooring, kitchen capacity, restrooms, horse stalls, drainage, and parking lots, ensuring a future of positive event experiences.
Amy Dickerson, Managing Director shared, “As the Sandhills Global Event Center embraces this exciting chapter, it extends gratitude to Sandhills Global Inc., the Department of Economic Development, and the community for their steadfast support. The Event Center is committed to continuing its impact serving as a unique hub of ag events from education to tourism and business while serving as the county’s largest community center for a wide range of planned and emergency uses. “
As part of the launch, The Sandhills Global Event Center invites you to explore its new website, SandhillsGlobalEventCenter.org, which not only showcases its rebranded identity but also features the most recent impact report, highlighting the positive contributions the Event Center brings to the community.
Eventex has officially announced The 50 Most Influential Venue Professionals for 2023, and IAVM is pleased to share that our President & CEO, Brad Mayne, CVE is featured on the list. The index recognizes outstanding professionals who have left a mark on this particular events industry area with their creativity, vision, and capacity for innovation.
“This Eventex index shines a light on the most deserving individuals whose creativity, innovation, and achievements keep inspiring and raising the bar, both in their field and for the rest of the industry. These remarkable professionals deserve recognition and we are honored to facilitate this process. Congratulations to everyone included in the list!” comments Ovanes Ovanessian, Co-founder of Eventex Awards.
“Brad’s passion for our association and commitment to excellence for our members has not only elevated IAVM, it has left a lasting mark on the venue management and events industries,” said Kerry Painter, CVE/CEM/CMP, Chair of the IAVM Board of Directors. “The IAVM Board congratulates Brad on receiving this well deserved honor.”
The list is decided entirely by public vote, where the events community first gets to nominate and then vote for those they believe have had the most notable impact on the industry. This year, a total of 830 professionals from 56 countries were honored with an Eventex index nomination, while 21,787 votes were cast to determine the results. Those with the most votes in their respective industry area made the top 50 list, with their names published in alphabetical order. To see the full list, visit.
“I am honored to be named in the Top 50 Most Influential Venue Professionals,” stated Mayne. “This honor is a testament to the IAVM leadership and staff, whose collaboration and passion for our industry has resulted in only the best educational and resource opportunities for our members.”
Founded in 2009, Eventex Awards has become the most recognizable symbol of excellence in the world of events and experience marketing. The competition gives big and small companies alike the opportunity to showcase their outstanding work and get universal events industry recognition.