Kletra Newton has been named chief operating officer of the San Mateo (CA) County Event Center.
The COO is a new position designed to provide more emphasis on strategic planning, customer satisfaction and efficiencies of the venue’s thriving corporate event business. “Kletra is a collaborator, a visionary, and has a unique understanding of the importance of business to business relationships,” said Dana Stoehr, chief executive officer of the San Mateo County Event Center. “She is an exceptional event planner and at the same time an impressive senior executive. That combination is what makes our venue sought-after by seasoned event planners who depend on venue collaboration and event expertise for their corporate event success.”
Newton joined the event center management team in 2014 to assist in onboarding of the venues in-house food and beverage services. In 2016, she was tapped to assume responsibility as director of event sales and services. While originally hired in a leadership role, her venue responsibilities expanded exponentially as she implemented a new vision for the event center. These executive responsibilities resulted in her being named chief operating officer in less than four years after joining the center’s management team.
Newton, the first minority woman to hold an executive position at the event center, has managed more than 500 events, as large as 25,000 guests. Her unwavering commitment to guest satisfaction and increased efficiencies is evident in the numbers. Under Newton’s leadership, the event center’s corporate business has increased 25 percent. During the same period, the event center achieved its highest grossing sales month in a decade.
“Our mission is to transform the guest experience,” Newton said. “Our commitment to that mission is why our corporate business continues to thrive. In less than two years, our team has reinvigorated its event planning processes, procedures, and precision. We understand our event planners’ needs and we share their goals.”
“I have worked with Kletra on some large-scale events which demanded a high level of attention to detail and with lots of flexibility,” said James Kim, corporate events manager for Netflix Events. “Kletra was an amazing partner and really made you feel like she was invested in the success of your event. Her communication style was straight and to the point which made the entire planning process very smooth and stress free.”
“Kletra is a true event professional,” said Ellie Platis, senior event producer for Electronic Arts, Inc. “Her passion and perfection in her work exceeds clients’ expectations.”
“I view my role as COO not only as the senior executive leader of our venue’s event business, but also as an executor of strategy, a change agent, a corporate partner, a mentor, and a complement to our CEO’s knowledge and penchants.” Newton said.
The Massachusetts Convention Center Authority (MCCA) Board of Directors voted to approve a contract with Populous Architects for a Boston Convention & Exhibition Center (BCEC) campus master plan and feasibility study. This data driven financial and industry marketplace analysis will provide an opportunity to evaluate potential future options at the BCEC’s 70-acre campus by taking into account the dramatic development of the South Boston Waterfront and rapid evolution of customer priorities in the global conventions, meetings and events industry.
“The Authority is eager to work with the world class team from Populous to determine the best path forward for the BCEC,” said David Gibbons, Executive Director of the MCCA. “We are asking them to evaluate the convention market to ensure the future competitive position of the BCEC in the conventions, meetings, and events industry.”
Populous is based in Kansas City, Missouri, with offices around the world, including Boston. The firm, which was recently named Fast Company magazine’s Most Innovative Company in Live Events, has a strong and impressive global portfolio of convention center projects across the United States, and also includes signature projects in Australia, India and the Middle East. Their diverse team in Boston has strong local representation with several firms that have first-hand experience working on the BCEC, including the original construction of the center and subsequent projects at the facility since.
“The opportunity to help position the BCEC for future success is exciting, and we look forward to applying our nearly 20 years of planning and design expertise to this new project,” said Todd Voth, Senior Principal and Convention Center Practice Leader at Populous.
In November of 2017, Populous was selected as the winning bid among four finalists by the MCCA’s Designer Selection Panel. Following a vote of the MCCA’s Board of Directors on November 16, 2017, contract negotiations commenced. The study is currently scheduled to be completed in the first quarter of 2019 and the total design fees approved by the MCCA’s Board of Directors is not to exceed $2.2 million.
The Baltimore Orioles announced a new initiative that will allow paying adult fans to take their children to home games free-of-charge.
Adults that purchase tickets in the regularly-priced upper deck area of the team’s Oriole Park at Camden Yards can bring up to two children aged nine or under for free, via the aptly named ‘Kids Cheer Free’ scheme.
Tickets are subject to availability and will be offered on a month-by-month basis as the MLB 2018 season progresses. Fans can now secure their tickets to games through April 29.
“Baseball is the bedrock recreational institution in American life, where childhood memories are born and family bonds are forever formed,” Greg Bader, vice president for communications and marketing for the Orioles, commented to the Associated Press. “It is our hope that this unprecedented program will bring the magic of Orioles baseball to families from all walks of life and ultimately grow our game.”
John Angelos, executive vice president at the Orioles, added: “The Orioles’ mission, and that of the national game of baseball, is to cast a broad community outreach. That effort starts with thoughtfully expanding our initiatives benefiting kids and families. The Orioles are committed to sustaining the access for families from all walks of life to our great game, and that commitment is reflected in the Kids Cheer Free initiative and our many other family-focused programs.”
The Stadium Managers Association (SMA) recently held an annual vote for the 2018 Board of Directors at the association’s Seminar in San Diego, California. Troy Brown, vice president of stadium operations, Cleveland Browns, was elected to a one-year term as president.
The Board recognized Mark Burk, formerly of Rice-Eccles Stadium, University of Utah, who completed his term as college director. Burk also served as president of SMA in 2016. Troy Hoberg, vice president of business development with Hunt Construction Group, AECOM, also completed his term and was thanked for his four years of board service.
Matt Kastel, Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Baltimore Orioles, was reelected to serve a three-year term as stadium manager director.
Mario Coutinho, director, vice president of stadium operations and security, Rogers Centre, Toronto Blue Jays Baseball Club, was elected to serve as stadium manager director.
Nicole Andrews, Managing Director of Global Sales with Matrax, Inc. was elected to serve a four-year term as corporate director.
Following the general election, the Board elected officers to serve a term of one year beginning in February 2018. In addition to Brown, Joe Abernathy, vice president of facility planning and engineering with the St. Louis Cardinals, was elected as vice president. Matt Kastel, manager, Oriole Park at Camden Yards, was elected as secretary/treasurer.
Ex-Officio advisors include Seminar Chair Rick Nafe, vice president operations, Tampa Bay Rays; Assistant Seminar Chair Jim Folk, vice president ballpark operations, Cleveland Indians; Legal Counsel Mike McCormick, McCormick & Associates, LLC; and Emeritus Directors Bill Wilson and Jim Minish.
You, as an IAVM member, are our most important asset. Without your commitment to the association and to the venue management industry, we wouldn’t be here. Because of your support, we are featuring member profiles in our I Am Venue Management series. If you are interested in participating in the I Am Venue Management series, please visit http://www.iavm.org/i-am-venue-management-share-your-story.
If I wasn’t doing this I would: give owning a bike shop a go!
Most impressive person I’ve ever met is: my wife.
I unwind by: being a road cyclist. I drive everywhere, so I can bring my bike and explore.
On my desk right now is: an Oglebay VMS bell and mug full of cold, bad coffee.
My favorite IAVM program I ever attended was: Venue Management School.
If I were on the other side of the seats, I would: bring back the circus. I’d ride my bike across a tight rope!
One trait an up-and-coming venue manager should have is: to be a leader and take ownership. Be willing to learn and grow, because you will never know it all.
One up-and-coming venue star in the industry is: Ross Girouard, the director of operations and production at Allen Event Center. In addition to his stellar on-the-job performance, he was one of the first CVP’s, is involved with IAVM committees, is a VMS grad and has VMS-GI on the horizon.
One of my goals for this year is to: develop a number of “mini” special events to take place on the exterior of the venue before hockey games to help drive additional economic activity to the area and assist the hockey team with the overall fan experience. The ultimate goal is to be successful in the execution and garner positive results.
How do you plan to help elevate the profession? I serve on the IAVM Membership Committee as vice chair. The committee is a passionate group, and we have worked hard to grow membership and continually improve member benefits. I hope to continue to be part of the exceptional group for years to come. I’m a believer in the value of IAVM schools and programs. I promote and encourage staff and other professionals to participate. Allen event staff presence at VMS has become a norm, and I don’t see that changing.
Where do you see new growth opportunities in the profession? In security. We are already seeing better alignment and communication among venues, professional associations, first responders, and state and federal engagement. It’s unfortunate on how we got to this point, but the discussion and collaboration has made for safer venues. Others include the trickle-down technology to improve fan engagement, and how A/V and enhanced in-game production options are becoming increasing affordable.
How do you stay current with industry trends and developments? Read, and you can’t do it enough. Athletic Business, Sports Business Journal, Facility Manager, The Meeting Planner Magazine, etc. I take advantage of webinars and industry trainings. Paying attention to federal, state, and local legislation is important as well.
Who are three people you’d invite to a dinner party and why? I’m a family guy, and while there are great people in the world, none are better than my family. I have six siblings and a large extended family, so my dinner party of three would be crashed.