Tag Archives: St. Pete Times Forum

Cogen and Henry Team Up to Run Nashville Properties

16 Aug

David Poile, GM and Predators president of Hockey Operations welcomes new President and COO Sean Henry and new CEO Jeff Cogen. Also pictured is Tom Cigarran, Predators chairman.

It is a package deal – Jeff Cogen and Sean Henry, announced as the new CEO and president/COO of the Nashville Predators of the National Hockey League and the Bridgestone Arena on Aug. 10.

“Sean will run the building as president and COO of the building and team; we haven’t exactly decided how we will divide and conquer, but clearly he’ll have the building. He’s done a tremendous job with the St. Pete Times Forum, [Tampa, Fla.] so he will focus on programming, customer service and merch and concessions at the building and I will focus on marketing and sponsorship and ticket sales,” Cogen toldVenues Today. “We’re going to approach this as a team. That’s what we talked about over a 24-hour term.”

Though it wasn’t technically a package deal, they did literally walk in the door together. “As Sean said, he’s glad they decided to hire two and, as I said, I was glad it wasn’t two for the price of one,” Cogen said.

Both have a long history in the business of sports and entertainment. Cogen’s began as a promoter for Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus and he was based in Nashville. He credits that experience with teaching him 95 percent of what he knows about marketing and promotions. “Allen Bloom, Mike Franks and Irving and Kenneth Feld made me who I am today,” Cogen said. “I’m not doing kids-in-the-show promotions, I’m doing register-to-win-a-road-trip-with-the-team, but pretty much the promotional elements remain the same. The biggest change is technology. We’ve adapted from traditional media to technological initiatives, but generally speaking the roots of my training and present day execution are certainly with Ringling Brothers.”

He took the circus to Detroit and Mike Illitch and Jim Lites hired him to be the marketing guy for the Detroit Red Wings and Joe Louis Arena, from 1986 to 1993. From 1993 to 2001, he worked with Lites to start the Dallas Stars National Hockey League franchise. In the middle of that experience, owner Tom Hicks moved him to the Texas Rangers. From 2001-2003 he was COO of the Florida Panthers, where he worked with Henry. He came back to Dallas to the Stars in 2004 and was named president in 2007.

Asked how much impact the pending sale of the Stars had on his decision to move to Nashville, Cogen said that it was minimal. The decision was based on the fact that CEO is a promotion from president; Nashville is a town he loves and one he wants his family to grow in; it’s nine hours from his hometown of Newport News, Va.; and he believes he can have an impact on sports and entertainment in Tennessee.

Brad Mayne, CEO of Center Operating Company, which operates American Airlines Center, Dallas, home to the Dallas Stars, said of Cogen: “We hate to see him go. He’s good at generating great revenues. Jeff is always innovative. When he put his strategies together, instead of selling the best game and then the rest, he’d sell all the rest, knowing the best games would sell out. The easy inventory takes care of itself.”

Cogen is also innovative in bundle programs, helping introduce food and beverage on regular season tickets for the Stars last year and looking at the possibility of paperless tickets this season, which is a convenience for the fan and a way to mine the data on individual buying habits, Mayne said.

Cogen describes himself as a data-centric salesperson. “I don’t believe that you advertise and sell season tickets. I believe salespeople provide that service and the success of a salesperson is getting quality leads and quality leads comes from creating quality data. We will have initiatives to get names and e-mails that are or could be Predators fans and we’ll make phone calls and face-to-face appointments and we’ll approach it one fan at a time. That’s my vision.”

The Predators averaged 14,200 fans per game last year. Cogen said his goal is 15,000 this season. “I’m optimistic. The combination of some of the initiatives I hope to place there, the data-centric approach, a quality base, a good team and a good schedule should get us there.” He had nothing but praise for the team in place, including Chris Parker, who is in charge of tickets and sponsorships and is “exceptional.”

Henry has been consulting CEO with the Tampa Bay Lightning of late, and had been COO of the team and arena since 1999. His expertise helped turn the St. Pete Times Forum into one of the busiest buildings in Florida.

Ed Lang, current president of the Nashville Predators, will be leaving the organization after a transition period. The arena is run by Powers Management, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Nashville Predators, and there has not been a venue manager per se since Hugh Lombardi moved to Boston to be general manager of TD Garden in January.

The Predators 2010/2011 season kicks off Oct. 9 against the Anaheim Ducks. Both new executives will be in Nashville in two weeks. Cogen is back in his Stars office today to interact with Hicks on a transition plan. Mayne said there are three bidders for the Stars and Hicks has said he expects the sale to be done before the regular season begins. — Linda Deckard

Interviewed for this story: Jeff Cogen, (214) 387-5586; Brad Mayne, (214) 665-4220

Quote of the Week

23 May

“It’s normally our quietest

time of year during this

period, so we’re putting

heads in beds when Tampa

needs it the most.”

— Bill Wickett of the St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa Fla., on the arena’s plans to host the Republican National Convention in July 2012.

Bookings: St. Pete Times Forum Lands GOP Convention

22 May

St. Pete Times Forum, Tampa, Fla.

Tampa Bay and the St. Pete Times Forum will host the 2012 Republican National Convention (RNC). The largest non-sporting event ever hosted by the city, the RNC is expected to attract more than 40,000 visitors to the area during the last week of August.

“One of the reasons the RNC picked Tampa is because we have one of the best venues in the country to host a convention like this,” said Ken Jones, co-chairman of the host committee. “The layout and design of the Forum are perfect for this event, and the staff and people that work there are incredibly professional.”

The impact of the 2008 convention in Minneapolis was estimated at nearly $170 million in new spending, along with approximately 2,800 new jobs that produced $100 million in wages.

The host committee is projecting a budget of $49 million, which will be raised from private donations. “We are a not-for-profit organization, so our job is to promote Tampa Bay’s cities and alleviate the financial burden on the city’s government in connection with the event,” Jones said.

Along with this funding, RNC will receive a direct grant from the Federal Election Commission of approximately $18 million. In addition, because this event has a National Special Security Event (NSSE) designation, the city will receive $50 million from the federal government for security costs related to the RNC.

Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio and Ken Hagan, chairman of Tampa’s Hillsborough County, were instrumental in winning the bid for the city, said Jones.
Tampa Bay was asked to bid on the RNC in both 2004 and 2008, and was a runner up to Minneapolis, which hosted the last convention.

“The RNC requires a venue with at least 18,500 seats and 2,500 seats on the floor,” said Bill Wickett, executive vice president of communications for the St. Pete Times Forum. “The committee also looks at the building’s square footage and suite count for ancillary events. The Forum sets up well for these needs.”

The Forum is situated in Tampa’s Channelside District on the waterfront. It’s within walking distance of the city’s convention center and hotels, which are all located within a three-block area.

“We also have 100,000 sq. ft. of exterior plaza space and five and a half acres of adjacent land that can be utilized for the media, trade show booths and whatever else is needed,” Wickett said.

The RNC will take over the venue for six weeks at the end of July 2012 until the convention’s completion. An extensive build-out, including upgrades and changes, will take place inside the Forum prior to the convention.

Although the biggest challenge will be coordinating the move in and out of the RNC from the facility, the event is scheduled during the venue’s slow period.

“It’s normally our quietest time of year during this period, so we’re putting heads in beds when Tampa needs it the most,” Wickett said.

There were a few pending events scheduled at the Forum during the convention period that Wickett said will now not be pursued.

The RNC is soon expected to move staff members to Tampa and begin working with the city’s organizing committee to put plans together for the event.

“This is a non-partisan effort, and we’re doing it for the good of Tampa Bay,” Jones said. “We will get to work and raise the money needed to put on the best show of any convention.” — Lisa White

Interviewed for this article: Ken Jones, (813) 226-6101; Bill Wickett, (813) 301-6500