By ASM Global
As part of ASM Global’s new strategic convention and meeting space initiative, its U.S. Bank Stadium recently hosted VeeCon, the first-ever NFT-ticketed convention, launched by social media mogul Gary Vaynerchuk. Held May 19-22 in Minneapolis, the inaugural VeeCon, produced by VeeFriends, drew nearly 7,000 attendees from 47 states and 70 countries, of which 83% were first-time visitors to Minnesota, said VeeCon spokesperson Maha Abouelenein. VeeCon generated an economic impact of $21+ million in Minneapolis, according to calculations by VeeFriends.
As the world emerges from the global pandemic, ASM has seen pent-up demand at events produced at its portfolio of 350+ premier venues worldwide. “It’s more important than ever to gather communities together in person,” said Ron Bension, president and CEO of ASM Global, which manages 98 convention centers—including some of the largest and busiest U.S. venues such as McCormick Place, Moscone Center, and the Los Angeles Convention Center. “Hosting VeeCon offers U.S. Bank Stadium and ASM Global the opportunity to lead these large-scale events back to live. This launch event continues the upcoming business-meeting boom that we are seeing in Minneapolis and worldwide.”
In the last month alone, ASM Global venues have hosted several high-profile events, including the National Restaurant Association Show in Chicago, Connect Marketplace in Puerto Rico, and the American Thoracic Society International Conference in San Francisco. Among the largest, the National Restaurant Association Show was held May 21-24 at McCormick Place in Chicago with 50,000 attendees and 1,200 exhibiting companies covering 600,000 net square feet.
“VeeFriends and VeeCon was the culmination of my business and creative passions; this made it special to me to see the first inaugural VeeCon come to fruition here in Minnesota,” said Vaynerchuk, CEO and creator of VeeFriends, an NFT project inspired by his desire to build a community around his creative and business endeavors using NFT technology. “I am so grateful to bring iconic figures together to meet the VeeFriends community and speak about topics I’ve been passionate about my whole life.”
U.S. Bank Stadium, home of NFL’s Minnesota Vikings, provided the perfect backdrop for the A-List speaker lineup that included best-selling authors and icons in business, music, art, Web3, sports, and popular culture. Speakers who attended the in-person event included filmmaker Spike Lee; actresses Mila Kunis and Eva Longoria; author Deepak Chopra and Mark Manson; Logan Paul; Liam Paine; music artists Pharrell and Snoop Dogg; and sports icons Ricky Williams, Chuck “The Iceman” Liddell, and Baron Davis, to name of few.
“We were honored to host the first major gathering of the VeeFriends community,” said John Drum Jr., general manager of U.S. Bank Stadium, which has been operated by ASM Global since its opening in July 2016. “There’s a ‘wow’ factor for attendees and first-time guests when they come into a venue like ours that has hosted Super Bowl LII and the 2019 NCAA Men’s Final Four. It was exciting to maximize the versatility of the stadium for a B2C event like this, and the VeeCon team took advantage of the unique space the venue offers.”
The stadium floor, which typically serves as a playing field, featured the main stage with 3,500 seats, four side stages for concurrent sessions, a five-stories tall Ferris wheel, a batting cage, lawn games, six food trucks, and more. VeeCon made use of the entire stadium, building incredible activations in the concourses while using the cabins and club suites to create unique experiences for attendees. The four-day event featured nightly entertainment with concert performances by Wyclef Jean, GARZI, Lian Faz, Immasoul, Lil Polo Tee, Fresco Trey, Miguel.
Since it was the first-ever NFT-ticketed event, venue staff were trained on how to verify access through the show app. According to VeeCon, 10,255 NFT tokens, which included access to VeeCon for three years, were purchased before the event. “The stadium has 5G connectivity, free public Wi-Fi capability throughout the venue, and we added additional antennae on the floor to supplement the existing infrastructure,” Drum said. “We are used to hosting large-scale events, like the Super Bowl in 2018, so we have the bandwidth to make sure the tech runs smoothly. VeeCon used the video boards and LED ribbon boards to enhance the main stage set.”
U.S. Bank Stadium and VeeCon worked closely with Meet Minneapolis to promote the event. “We were excited to welcome VeeCon attendees to Minneapolis. These large conventions play a vital role in supporting our tourism and hospitality industry,” said Melvin Tennant, CAE, president and CEO of Meet Minneapolis. “The value to our local community is supporting the tens of thousands of workers in our industry through the economic impact of visitor spending. In addition, we anticipate many of these first-time visitors to Minneapolis will return now that they have seen what our city has to offer. We’d like to thank the VeeCon team and our partners at U.S. Bank Stadium for their efforts in hosting this successful event.”
By R.V. Baugus
Andy Gorchov, General Manager of State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, gets to be the “home team” when VenueConnect rolls into Phoenix in just a month from now. In fact, as this newsletter reaches IAVM members it is in fact one month exactly when Gorchov will present the keynote address to the Stadiums Sector on July 21 from 11 am-11:45 am at the Phoenix Convention Center about a pair of, oh, fairly major events coming up at the stadium that is home to the Arizona Cardinals. We will get into that shortly as we get to know Andy a little better and what he will be speaking on at VenueConnect.
Share a little of your background and your current role at State Farm Stadium.
I serve as General Manager for ASM Global at State Farm Stadium where I am responsible for overseeing the day to day and event operations of the stadium and for booking all non-football events. Prior to joining State Farm Stadium, I spent 15 years with the Denver Broncos at Empower Field at Mile High including five years as stadium general manager. I started my career in college with SMG working at the Pittsburgh Civic Arena. I additionally served as SMG’s Director of Operations for Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio during pre-opening and the first full operating season. I also worked for CAA Icon, an industry leading owner’s representative and strategic management firm for public/private sports & entertainment facility owners and operators, where I served on the project team overseeing the renovation of Wrigley Field in Chicago. I am a native of Philadelphia with a degree from the University of Pittsburgh.
We understand you happen to have two of the biggest sporting events in the world coming up in 2024. What are those and how are things going early on in preparing for them?
State Farm Stadium will be hosting its third Super Bowl in February 2023 and its second NCAA Men’s Final Four Basketball Championship in 2024. Planning efforts are going well. Working in partnership with the NFL along with Arizona’s well-established and experienced local organizing committee, we are excited to deliver an outstanding experience for all involved.
What do you expect to be sharing with your audience at VenueConnect?
In addition to providing a general overview of State Farm Stadium and the planning efforts associated with the Super Bowl and Final Four, I want to provide some insight regarding our current efforts in improving the employee experience to assist with the staffing challenges that many venues are experiencing today.
Everyone likes a main takeaway that they can return to their venue and use. What will be a takeaway you would like to leave for the audience?
Regardless of the bells and whistles of your venue, it’s the people that make the place. Delivering a world-class experience for our guests requires an equally world-class experience for our staff.
By Bonnie Goodman for Live Arts Centers of North America
Responding to the challenges of structural racism in performing arts institutions across the U.S. and Canada, Live Arts Centers of North America (LACNA), a coalition of more than 50 of the largest performing arts centers in both countries, and the LACNA Foundation announced the launch of the BIPOC Executive Leadership in the Arts Program. Supported by AMS Planning & Research Corporation, NAS, and Stanford University, this first-of-its-kind program is designed to accelerate the development of management and leadership skills among qualified mid-career BIPOC professionals and provide them with a pathway to pursue executive positions in the two nations’ most significant cultural institutions.
The BIPOC Executive Leadership in the Arts Program supports the growth of future C-suite executives including chief executive officers, chief operating officers, chief financial officers and chief advancement/chief development officers. According to the LACNA Foundation, while 53% of principal administrators of major performing arts centers are female, only 7% of the leaders of these arts organizations are BIPOC, and only 16% of the leadership teams of these organizations include BIPOC representation. The BIPOC Executive Leadership in the Arts Program tackles this challenge head-on as a statement of commitment from these organizations to change their cultures and to diversify their leadership. The program will help recognize and support the myriad qualified BIPOC arts professionals who are viable candidates for senior roles positions and strengthen their capacities to lead large civic cultural organizations into the future.
“Leaders of performing arts centers understand that the immense public investment in these institutions compels them to operate as deeply relevant organizations that reflect and matter to the communities they serve,” said Josephine Ramirez, executive vice president, The Music Center, and co-chair of the BIPOC Executive Leadership in the Arts Steering Committee. “This work will be transformative as we find and support changemakers who have the vision, energy and determination to reimagine and lead.”
“Systemic racism affects who and how we hire, and demographic representation of executive-level staff does not yet reflect the communities we work in,” said Kendra Ingram, CEO of Marcus Performing Arts Center, co-chair of the BIPOC Executive Leadership in the Arts Steering Committee, and chair of the LACNA Foundation. “While this program won’t provide all the solutions, it is a critically important step for the arts as we move towards an inclusive future for performing arts centers.”
In the beta year for this program, the LACNA Foundation named six inaugural fellows who were nominated by performing arts centers’ CEOs. Eligible candidates must be BIPOC with 10-15 years’ experience working in the arts field, with those interested in CEO positions spending at least five of those years working at a performing arts center. All must have some management experience. The selected fellows are:
Dacquiri Baptiste, Orpheum Theatre; Memphis, TN;
Faustina Brooks (pictured), Fox Theatre; Atlanta, GA; To read a story on Brooks from the Georgia State University J. Mack Robinson College of Business, please click here.
Achia Floyd, Atlanta Music Project; Atlanta, GA;
Tania Palkhivala, Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts; Orlando, FL
Marisol Sanchez-Best, Seattle Theatre Group; Seattle, WA; and
Jennifer Tsukayama, New Jersey Performing Arts Center; Newark, NJ
Fellows will benefit from a multifaceted and experienced-based curriculum with five interlocking components: training on leadership theory and practice, residencies-in-practice at participating performing arts centers, one-on-one leadership coaching, networking opportunities and participation in a leadership summit. Throughout the program, the fellows will explore ways to transform anchor performing arts organizations to become more equitable, diverse, inclusive, accessible and reflective of the communities they serve. They will participate in workshops with Stanford faculty and engage with leadership of Stanford’s Institute for Diversity in the Arts, as well as its performing arts presenting organization, Stanford Live. Each fellow will work with a dedicated coach from NAS, which has created a first-of-its-kind cohort of coaches who are arts and culture leaders themselves and have the lived experience needed to support clients working to redefine the structures, practices, and policies of the status quo; the fellows will also have direct access to performing arts center CEOs in both the U.S. and Canada. Each will also receive a stipend to support their continued professional development once the program concludes.
Fellows will participate in residencies at 18 performing arts centers including:
Adrienne Arsht Center; Miami, FL
Apollo Theater; New York, NY
Broward Center for the Performing Arts; Fort Lauderdale, FL
Columbus Association for the Performing Arts; Columbus, OH
Denver Center for the Performing Arts; Denver, CO
Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts; Orlando, FL
Fox Theatre; Atlanta, GA
Marcus Performing Arts Center; Milwaukee, WI
The Music Center; Los Angeles, CA
National Arts Centre; Ottawa, ON
New Jersey Performing Arts Center; Newark, NJ
Omaha Performing Arts; Omaha, NE
Ordway Center; St. Paul, MN
Pittsburgh Cultural Trust; Pittsburgh, PA
Proctors Collaborative; Schenectady, NY
Seattle Theatre Group; Seattle, WA
Straz Center for the Performing Arts; Tampa, FL
Tennessee Performing Arts Center; Nashville, TN
Seed project funding for the program is provided by the performing arts centers themselves with additional support from Pivotal Ventures, a Melinda French Gates company, and The Ralph M. Parsons Foundation. NAS will evaluate the program in its beta year; feedback from participants will also inform the evolution of the program for future years.
The program is led on behalf of the LACNA Foundation by a steering committee that includes Deborah F. Rutter, president, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts (Washington, D.C.); Kendra Ingram, president and CEO, Marcus Performing Arts Center (Milwaukee, WI); Rachel S. Moore, president and CEO, The Music Center (Los Angeles, CA); John Schreiber, president and CEO, the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (Newark, NJ); Joan Squires, president, Omaha Performing Arts (Omaha, NE); Carol Wallace, president and CEO, San Diego Theatres, Inc. (San Diego, CA), and Jennifer Turner, president and CEO, Tennessee Performing Arts Center (Nashville, TN). The LACNA Foundation is committed to operating the program for a minimum of five years with Stanford committed to the program’s beta year.
For more information about the BIPOC Executive Leadership Program in the Arts, visit performingartscenters.org
Bonnie Goodman is with the Live Arts Centers of North America.
The New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center has earned two major awards from the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality for major and impactful initiatives aimed at reducing the facility’s environmental footprint. The Environmental Leadership Program Awards, given to the Convention Center in the Community Environmental Outreach category, as well as the Energy and Water Pollution Reduction category, recognize outstanding activities and projects that demonstrate environmental leadership and the pursuit of a cleaner, safer environment.
New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center representatives were recognized for their efforts at the Environmental Leadership Program Awards on June 9 in Baton Rouge. To be considered for the awards, facilities were required to report and describe their most impactful projects as well as how the projects benefit their local communities.
The Community Environmental Outreach Award recognizes innovative projects that contribute to enhancing the quality of the environment for the local community. For this award, the Convention Center highlighted an October 2021 project that, as part of a waste audit in pursuit of LEED certification, saw members of the facility’s Executive Leadership Team, as well as staff managers and team leads, sort through over 400 pounds of a representative sample of waste materials.
For the Energy and Water Pollution Reduction category, the Convention Center was able to demonstrate a deep commitment to the reduction of water and energy use in its facility. They did so by implementing several major energy efficiency projects, which add up to be one of the largest energy-saving initiatives ever undertaken in the region. Through these initiatives, the Convention Center awarded $11 million in contracts to small and emerging businesses (SEBs) in the community and participated in Energy Smart, a comprehensive energy efficiency program developed by Entergy and the New Orleans City Council.
“We could not be happier with the recognition our cutting-edge environmental projects are receiving,” said Convention Center President Michael J. Sawaya. “These awards are meaningful to every single person who has worked on these projects and also provides a blueprint that other facilities of our size can follow if they want to create positive change in their environment and local communities. It is also what our event planner clients expect.”
“Our success in sustainability is thanks to the efforts from our committed staff who reached these major milestones in energy reduction through planning, design, and management,” said Adam J. Straight, Convention Center Vice President of Operations. “We also appreciate the strong response from community leaders who encourage us to share our results and best practices with local organizations to help make sustainability a major focus in New Orleans. I’m so proud of everyone involved.”
These awards are not the first recognition for the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center’s sustainability efforts. Earlier in 2022 the facility was given the “Love Your City Award” in the Best Overall category. This award highlights individuals and organizations that assess, improve, and address their impact in their communities through reductions in energy use, contributions to the local economy, commitments to providing equitable opportunities for all, and more. The Convention Center Director of Sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility, Linda Baynham, spearheaded these initiatives.
Pictured: Adam J. Straight, Vice President of Operations at the at the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center (Left) and Linda Baynham, Director of Sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility at the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center (Right), accept an award from the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality Secretary, Dr. Chuck Carr Brown (Center) in the Community Environmental Outreach and Energy and Water Pollution Reduction categories.
Monumental Sports & Entertainment (MSE) has teamed up with professional services company KPMG to reimagine the arena suite concept at Capital One Arena.
MSE, which owns Capital One Arena, along with its two major league teams, the NBA’s Washington Wizards and NHL’s Washington Capitals, has transformed an existing suite at the venue into the newest KPMG Ignition Center.
KPMG Ignition is a specialized team that seeks to think and work differently to produce differentiated results for the company’s clients. The Capital One Arena site is the latest Ignition Center, joining other facilities in Atlanta, Chicago, Denver, New York, and KPMG Lakehouse in Lake Nona, Florida.
The renovated suite is equipped with the latest technology and will serve as a meeting place for KPMG and its clients to collaborate and solve business problems together, 365-days-a-year, at any time of the day, regardless of the evening game scheduling of the Capitals, Wizards or other live concert or event. When a game, concert, or event is hosted in the arena, KPMG will also be able to offer traditional live-event hospitality to its clients.
“When KPMG and the senior executives at Monumental Sports came together on this idea, I thought it was brilliant,” said Ted Leonsis, founder, chairman and CEO of Monumental Sports & Entertainment.
“Taking a suite normally used to host clients to watch Capitals and Wizards games and innovate within it – bringing customers into an environment that’s unexpected and creating a destination to engage people to think differently – is such a big idea.
“This reinforces the notion that arenas play a central part in the business community’s ecosystem — and that we are now creating a new real estate category of shared workspace — turning suites normally used a few hours per game day into workspace, all day and year-round.
“I believe the shared space will be seen as a very economical investment given the dual benefits of suite usage for entertaining at games and then office space for meetings, working, and demo centers for the benefit of customers.
“This reimagining of suite space is another innovation our team is bringing to our community of business partners. So, I congratulate the leaders at KPMG for being a first mover and an exemplar in finding new uses for the convening operation we have built, and I’m sure others will soon join them.”
The concept, creating the most experiential Ignition Center yet, came about through KPMG’s business need to engage in-person with its clients in an innovative and unique setting and MSE’s pursuit of developing additional daypart uses for an otherwise dormant arena.
The 28-person ‘mega-suite’ has 500-plus square feet of open space that can be transformed to meet clients’ needs. From its walls to its furniture, the suite’s modular and movable functionality seeks to create a unique room design for each business session.
The suite is fully equipped with cutting edge technology. The central video wall displays stories and demonstrations to facilitate discussions. Interactive screen displays are scattered throughout the room, along with high-resolution monitors on the ceiling and at the entryway that showcase relevant visuals during meetings. Plus, video streaming enables people to join sessions from anywhere in the world.
Tim Gillis, KPMG Washington DC area office managing partner, said: “This is the first partnership of its kind – an innovation space in a sports and entertainment facility – and a forward-thinking blueprint for arena suites of the future.
“Innovation can happen anywhere, anytime. KPMG Ignition – DC will provide an opportunity to engage with clients in a collaborative environment outside of their traditional office spaces to lean into disruption and uncover opportunities to create value.
“The KPMG brand is synonymous with disruptive transformation and innovation. This partnership with Monumental Sports & Entertainment is a representation of how we are transforming our own business and how we bring that same approach – and our ever-evolving capabilities – to help organizations in the DC area do the same.”
MSE in January announced plans for District E Powered by Ticketmaster, a new multi-purpose live-event venue next to Capital One Arena. The space will span nearly 14,000 square feet and offer year-round immersive experiences in esports, music, event programming, and community events, along with pre- and post-event activations for fans attending Capitals and Wizards games or other events.
In May 2021, a William Hill sportsbook officially opened at Capital One Arena, becoming the first sports betting venue to launch within a US professional sports facility.