Tag Archives: Faces and Places

McCue Replaces Evans at SMG; Sipe Heads to Big Sandy

20 Aug

Jim McCue has been hired as the new Sr. VP of Entertainment for SMG and will oversee national bookings and tours for the company’s 70 arenas and 40 Performing Arts Centers.

“We’re bringing someone on who really understands the landscape of the sports and entertainment industry,” said Bob Cavalieri, the company’s Sr. VP of Sales and Development. “Not only does he have plenty of experience to bring to our booking division, he has the ability to expand our nationwide reach and boost our presence abroad.”

McCue has worked in nearly every facet of live entertainment serving as a booking agent, facility executive, promoter and producer. He replaces Mike Evans, who left the company in June to serve as president for Arenas, a newly appointed position at Live Nation.

“There was a bit of a leadership gap when he left,” Cavalieri said, later adding  “Jim (McCue) has had quite a career and I can’t imagine a better fit.”

McCue is currently based in Denver, where he worked as co-producer and co-promoter of the popular Walking with Dinosaurs show, and worked in booking for ArenaNetwork. From 2003-2005 he worked as the Sr. VP of House of Blues Denver, overseeing the club of the same name along with the Red Rocks Amphitheatre, the former Fiddler’s Green (now the Comfort Dental Amphitheater) and the Paramount Theater. Before that he spent seven years working at the Rose Quarter in Portland, Ore., and served two years as the Director of Events for Palace Sports and Entertainment in the Detroit area. He began his career as an agent at International Creative Management.

He will oversee a staff of seven, including Jon Petrunak, VP of Entertainment for Arenas and Bob Papke, VP of Entertainment for Theaters, both out of Philadelphia, and Chris Wright, VP of Special Events, based at the Nassau Coliseum in Long Island, N.Y.

McCue will oversee the regional divisions as well, including Bob Belber who heads the Northeast, Cyndee Pennington who heads the Southeast, Jerry Goldman who heads the Midwest and Dan Spellens who oversees the West Coast.

Cavalieri said McCue will take the helm during a slow period in the concert business, but added that he expects things to pick up in 2011 with a number of artists reserving holds throughout the year.

Brian Sipe is leaving the Sovereign Center in Reading, Pa. for his first GM position at the Big Sandy Superstore Arena in Huntington, W. Va. Sipe will begin his duties at the SMG managed facility on Aug. 30, replacing A.J. Boleski who was hired to manage the Intrust Bank Center in Wichita, Kan.

“My first goal is to get into town and continue to bring strong bookings to the building,” said Sipe, who will oversee shows by Sugarland and Chris Tomlin. “My biggest goal will be to continue to bring concerts to the facility,” he said.

Built in 1977, the arena seats 9,000 for concerts and will host the Huntington Hammer of the United Indoor Football League beginning in the 2011 season. Sipe will also book the nearby 2,500-seat amphitheater and work with the 20,000-student Marshall University to bring more campus events to the arena. — Dave Brooks

Interviewed for this article: Bob Cavalieri, (610) 729-7920; Brian Sipe, (304) 696-5566

SMG’s Boleski Returns to Kansas

11 Jul

A.J. Boleski

A.J. Boleski is going home again, as new general manager of Intrust Arena, Wichita, Kan., for SMG. He will begin those duties on July 26. “I am from Kansas,” he told Venues Today when contacted at his current post, general manager of the Big Sandy Superstore Arena, Huntington, W.Va. “I will miss the hills, though.”

He spent his first two years in the business working for SMG in Topeka at the Kansas Expocentre after attending Ft. Hays State University. SMG then moved him to the Canton (Ohio) Memorial Civic Center, prior to relocating to West Virginia, where they are now conducting a search internally for a new general manager. He has been in Huntington for four years.

Boleski is looking forward to maintaining momentum for Intrust Arena, which opened less than a year ago. “They’ve booked big events there in the first six months,” he noted. – Linda Deckard

Interviewed: A.J. Boleski, (304) 696-5990

Veteran Moves: Evans to Live Nation; Zito to Andy Frain; Andersen to Northlands; Williams to Hawks; Neece to Austin City Limits

26 Jun

Mike Evans has joined Live Nation in the new position of president of Arenas. He will work out of Live Nation’s Philadelphia office and will be liaison between the promoter and arena managers in a fashion to be determined.

Evans has been booking shows for SMG for the past 11 years as executive vice president, sports and entertainment. And he will continue to interact with SMG venue managers. “SMG is very important to Live Nation, which is indicative of how we were able to do this. We have a longstanding history of working together,” Evans said.

Prior to his stint with SMG, Evans spent 23 years working for the late Abe Pollin and Washington Sports & Entertainment in D.C. His first day on the job with Live Nation was June 21 and he was flying to Los Angeles to meet with his new firm the rest of this week.

In a press release, Live Nation described Evans’ role as “responsible for managing Live Nation’s dealings with Live Nation’s North American arena partners. In 2009, Live Nation promoted more than 1,000 North American arena shows, attracting more than 9 million fans and generating net gross ticket sales of approximately $600 million. Evans will report to Live Nation CEO of Concerts, Jason Garner.”

Steve Zito, currently senior VP–operations and entertainment for the Memphis Grizzlies of the National Basketball Association and FedEx Forum, is also taking on a newly-created position. Effective July 12, he will be president of Andy Frain Services sports and entertainment division. He, too, will not be moving. He will open an Andy Frain office in Memphis two miles from home. His role will be to increase awareness of Andy Frain’s Crowd Management Engineering services, founded in 1924, representing the firm to venue managers.

Zito has been with the Grizzlies since 2005. Prior to that, he was vice president of facilities and events for the San Antonio Spurs of the NBA from 2002-2004; and worked with the Alamadome, San Antonio, from 1993-2001.

Andy Frain Services is headquartered in Chicago and has been Safety Act Certified since 2006, a Department of Homeland Security designation. The firm currently has more than 20 clients in sports and entertainment. Zito leaves the Grizzlies July 9.

Richard Andersen has announced his plans to serve as president and CEO of Northlands, a 600-acre campus that includes a convention center, the Rexall Place arena, home to the Edmonton Oilers of the National Hockey League, plus a number of events including Indy Racing League and the Canadian Rodeo Finals.
“The entire facility is owned by the public. We’re a public trust and serve as the stewards (of the campus). All the profits from Northlands are placed back into the community,” he said.

Andersen is the former GM of the Petco Park in downtown San Diego, and is the second vice chair of the International Association of Assembly Managers Board of Directors.

“In terms of the move, I don’t think it will be that dramatic of a change,” said Andersen. “My wife and I lived in Pittsburgh before we lived in San Diego, and Pittsburgh had some long, cold winters and we loved it there.”

Bob Williams, an anomaly in this business where moving up usually means moving on, has moved in a full circle, adding president of the Atlanta Hawks to his many titles. He started his career 35 years ago with the National Basketball Association team, offering to work for free to get his dream job out of college. They said they couldn’t let him work for free, but they could pay him next to nothing, he joked, adding the pay was $500 a month.

Since that auspicious beginning, Williams has made vertical or lateral moves within the organization to keep his interest high. His first move was to the now-imploded Omni, which he managed. The worst day in his career was in 1997, telling the Omni staff of 120 that the building was going to be torn down to make way for the new Philips Arena, which he also managed. He was able to hire many of them back after the 28-month construction phase, he added.

Williams was named president of Philips Arena in 1999 and still holds that title. But now he is also president of the Atlanta Hawks and continues as executive vice president of Atlanta Spirit, which owns the Hawks, the Atlanta Thrashers and Philips Arena operating rights. Don Waddle is president of the Atlanta Thrashers and exec VP of the Atlanta Spirit.

And finally, veteran talent buyer and manager Tim Neece is leaving his post of seven years with Texas Performing Arts at the University of Texas, Austin, to become general manager of the Austin City Limits Live 2,750-seat Moody Theater. The property, co-owned by Stratus Properties, includes a W Hotel and Condos, retail and restaurants and is to open in late December 2010 or early January 2011.

Neece started his career with his own management firm and in 1980 hit it big with client Christopher Cross. He moved to Los Angeles and worked with Irving Azoff’s Frontline Management for 13 years before deciding to move back to Texas. In 1996, he joined Direct Events in Austin, which managed the Backyard Amphitheater and Austin Music Hall. After four and a half years, he joined NextStage, which built what is now Nokia Theatre in Grand Prairie, Texas.

Neece said the new facility is a unique challenge. It is the TV studio for Austin City Limits for all their broadcasts and will be booked for other events, concerts and corporate events, the rest of the year. Besides being a TV studio, it is attached to a luxury hotel. The four-story building that is Austin City Limits Live consists of a ground floor of retail and three floors of performing arts. The loading bay can handle three semis and a bobtail all at once, with equipment loaded onto a freight elevator. “It’s well thought out,” Neece said.

He will leave Texas Peforming Arts next week and starts with Austin City Limits Live at Moody Theater July 6. — Linda Deckard and Dave Brooks

Interviewed for this story: Mike Evans, (610) 784-5447; Steve Zito, (901) 205-1501; Richard Andersen, (619) 933-6514; Bob Williams, (404) 878-3003; Tim Neece, (512) 471-2787