Eric Grilly, CEO of VStar Corp., headquartered in Minneapolis, shares the stage at VenueConnect with Sesame Street characters with IAVM's new logo as background. (VT Photo)

REPORTING FROM MINNEAPOLIS — The International Association of Venue Managers used its annual VenueConnect here July 23-26 as a podium to introduce major organizational changes going forward to its 4,929 members.

New President and CEO Brad Mayne, who took the reins July 19, was greeted by two standing ovations and credited his career in arena and stadium management to the association. “I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for IAVM,” he said, promising to bring the association back to relevance.

Brad Mayne, second from right, new IAVM CEO and president, at the Minnesota Convention Center the first full day of VenueConnect. With him are Sherman Bass, Amarillo (Texas) Civic Center Complex; Erin Wylie, Kennesaw (Ga.) State University; and Mark Herrera, IAVM. (VT Photo)

To do that, the board has voted to re-incorporate sector meetings (Arena Management Conference, Performing Arts Managers Conference and International Convention Center Conference) into one, all-encompassing VenueConnect. Though AMC, ICCC and PAMC will have 2016-17 meetings as planned, those will be the last.

By IAVM’s 92nd annual VenueConnect, set for Music City Center in Nashville, Aug. 7-9, 2017, programming will incorporate a strong focus on those sector tracks. Bill Jenkins, IAVM director of membership, explained the yearlong process that led to the decision to consolidate meetings.

The rationale began with the fact that attendance at VenueConnect, which is the major generator of revenue for the nonprofit association, had shrunk from 1,600 in 2000 to 651 in Baltimore in 2015. Attendance in 2016 was comparable to last year's as well. At the same time, sector attendance has remained flat, in the 200-per range.

Registration revenue is near $500,000 for VenueConnect, $100,000 or less for the sectors. VenueConnect trade show revenue, which is the main source of income for IAVM, was $1,000,000 in 2008 and 2009, and had shrunk to $590,000 last year, partially blamed on the decrease in attendance on the trade show floor.

The key to the decision, however, was that net profit from VenueConnect was $424,667 last year. Net profit for sector meetings is in the $10,000-$20,000 range.

“It’s a crowded marketplace,” Jenkins added, showing a graphic that listed the multitude of industry conferences now held, including IAVM’s own. “We need to make VenueConnect an essential choice,” he said.

Going forward, the objectives for the summer conference are to protect ithe intimacy and focus of the sectors while securing IAVM’s relevance in the marketplace.

The board also opted to run Monday-Wednesday in 2017 rather than the traditional Saturday-Monday. Foundation fundraising events will be on Sunday. “We will also increase the food and beverage events at VenueConnect,” Jenkins said.

Summarizing, he said VenueConnect 2017 will improve education, expand the reach to include stadiums, universities, amphitheaters and fairgrounds, create savings for the association and for members, and will move off the weekend.

In the future, IAVM will work to increase the number of private meetings held by businesses in the industry, including private management firms and industry-centric corporations, co-located with VenueConnect, Jenkins added.

Keynote speaker, Daymond John, famed Shark Tank shark and Fubu founder, talks about being experience architects, telling venue managers, “you're more important that people understand.” (VT Photo)

IAVM introduced its new logo here as well. Rebranding was also a yearlong process.

“It was essential that the new IAVM brand have many fingerprints on it—and it does. Hundreds of members provided input along the way, and months of collaboration with the staff and leadership of the association ensured that the final outcome would embody the passion, commitment, and contributions of the great collective of people at the heart of IAVM,” said Lauren Wanski, design manager with Gensler’s brand and analytics studio in Chicago.

The new tagline was most significant for Mark Mettes, IAVM incoming chair and CEO of Herberger Theatre, Phoenix. He told Venues Today his vote was won as Gensler revealed the final two words of “Creating Connections for Life.”


During its awards luncheon Monday, IAVM honored Jimmy Earl, Erwin Center, Austin, Texas, with the prestigious McElravy Award, as planned. Earl accepted with words of wisdom from his Mom, “Never forget the bridge that carried you over.” He remember David DeWald, who introduced him to the industry and to IAVM. He still has a card from DeWald when Earl was named IAVM president, which reads: “I knew you could do it.” Another bridge, Dean Justice, wrote to Earl on winning the McElravy Award, welcoming him to the club.

Jimmy Earl, Erwin Center, Austin, Texas, with his wife, show off the McElravy Award. Earl thanked the fellow IAVM members that helped along the way. (VT Photo)


Venue Excellence Award winners announced that day include:

• Arenas: Moda Center, Portland, Ore.
• Complexes: Fair Park, Dallas
• Performing Arts Center: Tobin Center for the Performing Arts, San Antonio
• Stadiums: EverBank Field, Jacksonville, Fla.

Fair Park also received the 2016 Education and Service Award, which recognizes member involvement through community outreach, educational opportunities, mentorships and internships that demonstrate excellence within the venue management industry as well as giving back to the community.

Below, Venues Today honored its 2016 Women of Influence with a Purple Rain reception in honor of Prince's hometown. Appropriately dressed are Sandy Dunn, DCU Center, Worcester, Mass.; Michele Swann, Cobb Galleria, Atlanta, and Samantha Le, Venues Today. (VT Photo)