Casper (Wyo.) Events Center

Brad Murphy is the new GM for Spectra Venue Management at the Casper (Wyo.) Events Center, and Brian Hoffman is moving to the MPEC in Wichita Falls, Texas for Spectra. Both new 5-year contracts, which include food as well as venue management, take effect Oct. 1.

The city of Casper voted final approval of its private management deal Sept. 28. Rick Hontz, regional VP for Spectra and GM of the Budweiser Events Center, Loveland, Colo., helped negotiate the deal.

“Our ticketing company was already there,” Hontz said of Spectra Ticketing & Fan Engagement. That helped open the door. Though SMG also bid on the project, it was not a traditional RFP process. The city began looking for private management when Bud Dovala, longtime manager, retired three months ago.

Anna Rosburg, who was director of marketing, is adding assistant GM to her title and, like 90 percent of the staff stays on. Hontz added that none had to take a pay cut to make the transition. Murphy has 25 years of experience in venue management, most recently with the University of Montana, Missoula, where he got to know Spectra Ticketing personnel and Brock Jones, Spectra Events.

The deal calls for the city to pay Spectra Venue Management an annual management fee of $130,000, Hontz confirmed. Spectra can also earn an incentive payment of 20 percent of the amount it saves the city in subsidy costs, based on a benchmark of $994,000. According to local news reports, the other side of the coin is that Spectra will refund up to half its fee if the city subsidy exceeds the benchmark.

Spectra Food & Hospitality receives three percent of its gross sales. The 9,700-seat arena, which opened in 1982, averages 170 events annually. Its annual operating budget based on data from Venues Today’s International Venue Resource Guide, is in the $3 million range.

Hontz sees a big opportunity in sponsorship sales. Spectra receives 15 percent of any commercial rights it sells. A new corporate sales manager starts Oct. 10. Hontz is still looking for a few new hires, including a chef, an operations manager and a director of finance.

The city-owned Casper Events Center is the largest entertainment venue in the state of Wyoming, welcoming more than 200,000 visitors each year and generating an average of nearly $8 million in economic impact for the Central Wyoming community.

Texas Triumph

The process for winning the Wichita Falls, Texas, Multi Purpose Event Center management contract was much more competitive. Peter Zingoni, Spectra director of business development, said it was a full court press, with SMG, VenuWorks and Pinnacle Venue Services also bidding on the deal.

The nod was given to Spectra Sept. 6. Zingoni said the five-year deal, with a five-year renewal option, is for a base management fee of $122,000, with an incentive payment of 20 percent of revenue generated above a predetermined benchmark based on a three-year revenue average. It’s an all-in deal and includes food and beverage through Spectra Food & Hospitality. The operating budget is $2.7 million annually.

Spectra will also sell corporate sponsorships and Zingoni sees considerable potential in that, including the name of the venue. Spectra receives 12.5 percent of all corporate partnership sales.

“It is a unique complex with five facilities,” Zingoni said, and includes a lot of outdoor programming. Spectra is investing $300,000 in upgrades to concessions and future event financing, he said. Exact plans are still being negotiated.

Brian Hoffman, GM, MPEC, Wichita Falls, Texas

The plan in Wichita Falls is to retain the majority, if not all, of the existing staff, though responsibilities may change. There will be additions as well.

Hoffman, the new manager, comes from another Spectra property, Pueblo (Colo.) Convention Center, where the hunt is on for a new manager now. Hoffman started in the business at the Broome County Veterans Arena in Binghamton, N.Y. He joined Spectra four years ago in Pueblo but has 17 years experience in the industry.

MPEC is really four venues, Hoffman explained. The 6,500 seat Kay Yeager Coliseum, built in 2005 is home to the Wichita Falls Wildcats of North American Hockey League team and the Wichita Falls Nighthawks of the IFL. The complex also includes a 60,000-sq.-ft. Ray Clymer Exhibit Hall, 2,700-seat Memorial Auditorium and 80,000-sq.-ft. Bridwell Ag Center. It hosts the Texas/Oklahoma State Fair each September.

“We do 400 events a year between the four facilities,” Hoffman said. Hoffman is looking to hire a director of operations, box office manager and event manager. Tickets.com is the ticketing provider.

Interviewed for this story: Brian Hoffman, (940) 716-5500; Rick Hontz, (970) 619-4105; Peter Zingoni, (215) 389-9477