More than 200 attendees representing arenas, theatres, convention centers, and stadiums throughout Florida gathered last week for the annual Florida Facility Managers Association (FFMA) conference along with sponsors and guests for networking, programming, and learning. FFMA celebrated its humble beginnings 30 years ago in Amelia Island when a few venue executives gathered to discuss common issues among the various in-state venues. It is believed this is the only statewide organization in existence that meets annually while also having a legislative lobbyist and executive director to handle day-to-day business.
The meeting began with an opening reception sponsored by Spectra Food Services on Sunday, June 21, at the Palm Beach Convention Center, an FFMA member and host. The conference continued on Monday with an educational session titled “The Role of the Inspiring Leader,” led by Mary Gardner of Winter Park. Other sessions included “Capital Planning,” presented by Mitch Silverman, a Ticketmaster presentation, venue-specific roundtables, and a discussion on facility signage. The afternoon concluded with an annual business meeting, which included updates as well as a by-law revision to increase the number of directors at large from three to five, which was approved.
Kim Stone, executive vice president and general manager of the Heat Group/American Airlines Arena, moved to become immediate past president. Jason Rittenberry, president & CEO of IRG Sports & Entertainment, ascended to president, while Scott Glaser, University of South Florida Athletics, became vice president, and Dave Anderson, Palm Beach Convention Center, became the secretary and treasurer. New board of directors at large serving a one-year term are Zane Collings, SMG Jacksonville Venues; Renee Musson, Stephen O’Connell Center at University of Florida; Mitch Silverman, Florida Atlantic University; Trent Merritt, SunDome at University of South Florida; and Orlando Castellano, War Memorial Auditorium in Ft. Lauderdale. Additional board members are comprised of former FFMA presidents including Ron Spencer, retired; Mary Bensel, Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall; Mike Lapan, retired; Bill Becker, ex-officio; Lionel Dubay, University of Florida; Rick Hamilton, Tampa Convention Center; Roger Englert, Donald Tucker Civic Center, Tallahassee; Mickey Farrell, Tampa Sports Authority; and Allen Johnson, Orlando Venues.
Tuesday’s sessions began with networking opportunities at the Raymond F. Kravis Center accompanied by Florida Presenters, FFMA’s sister organization. The final session included a distinguished panel of promoters, agents, and presenters including Kristine Marshall, agent at ICM Partners; Jeff Meyer, senior vice president, Feld Entertainment; Dave Pitman, director of touring arenas, Cirque du Soleil; John Valentino, president of AEG-SE; and Mario Tirado, agent at CAA-NY. The well-attended session included discussion of current industry trends including festivals, the need for more programming, and how to work better together.
The FFMA conference ended on Tuesday evening with a traditional dinner where Feld Entertainment and other partners donated merchandise so that all attendees left with a gift. Next year’s conference is set for June 20, 2016, returning to the Four Seasons in Palm Beach.
This year’s sponsors included AEG Live; Andy Frain Services; Aramark; Bigelow Companies; Centerplate; Clarin; Contemporary Services Corp.; Crossroads Consulting Services; Dade Paper; Daktronics; Delaware North Companies; Feld Entertainment; First Coast Security; GFS Associates; HOK; Hunt Construction Group; Hussey Seating; ISS Facility Services; Irwin Seating Company; Johnson Controls; Kravis Center; Levy Restaurants; OAI; OUI Vend; Owens Facility Services; Palm Beach Convention Center; POPULOUS; Pritchard Sports and Entertainment Group; Robbins Sports Surfaces; Sentry Event Services; Signs Now-Tampa; Spec Seating; Spectra Food Services; Staff Pro; StageRight; and Ticketmaster.