Michael Sulkes is a company man. Solid and steady, he’s not the kind of guy who abandons the ship for the latest and greatest opportunity; he’s content to stick to what he knows and with the people he knows. Proof of this is the fact that Sulkes has spent his entire adult working life at the same place — Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia.
Sulkes’ father, Neil Sulkes, has been in the industry for close to 40 years. He’s held a number of positions throughout his career beginning with Electric Factory, then SMG, Global Spectrum and World Café Live. 
Never intending to go into his dad’s business, Sulkes went through an “astronaut phase,” a “hockey player phase” and a “teacher phase,” but at some point he decided that a career in sports and entertainment was for him after all.
“Growing up around the industry, I was lucky enough to attend a lot of events and learn the basic ins and outs,” said Sulkes. “I never really thought I’d actually get into it, but in high school and college everyone’s advice was, ‘do what you love.’ And like (Seinfeld’s) George Costanza once said, ‘I like sports, I can do something in sports.’ So I thought, ok, well I know the business, let’s give it a shot.” 
Sulkes’ first foray in the industry was as an intern for the Philadelphia Flyers. His first paying job was as a coordinator for the Ed Snider (former owner of the Flyers) foundation. In 2012, Sulkes made a sharp turn into venue management and took the job of event manager at Wells Fargo Center.
“I was event manager for a few years and then became the director of events, overseeing the other event managers and all the events in 2014,” he explained. “When John Page took over as president of the building in September 2015, he made me assistant general manager of the venue.”
“I have my hand in a little bit of everything and help John Page in any way I can,” said Sulkes.
Sulkes downplays his accomplishments and avoids touting his achievements, but there are many. He’s highly involved in the managing of the day-to-day operations at the Wells Fargo Center and oversees all the bookings. He’s been instrumental in pursuing new business opportunities for the facility.
Sulkes has also taken the lead on many marquee events the venue has hosted, including the recent 2016 Democratic National Convention (DNC), National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Frozen Four, multiple NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournaments, the National Hockey League draft and major global touring concerts including last spring’s historic Pearl Jam concerts, Paul McCartney’s 2015 Out There tour and the Rolling Stones’ 50th Anniversary tour. Sulkes also played a key role in Wells Fargo Center’s 20th anniversary campaign and led the charge to create a free, community open house birthday party.
“Our late founder, Ed Snider, believed in hiring good people and letting them do their job,” said John Page, president, Wells Fargo Complex. “Michael Sulkes is a by-product of our culture. He has grown up within our company, starting as a coordinator of hockey operations with the Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation working his way up to his current role as AGM of the Wells Fargo Center.”
“As a second-generation arena operator, he was raised in this environment and knows the ins and outs of the industry,” said Page. “As a leader, he has an incredible ability to rally his team together to achieve great things. This past August we celebrated the Wells Fargo Center’s 20th Anniversary and the current fiscal year is one of our busiest ever.”
“Michael was our liaison with the DNC and his team was challenged to transform the arena into the site for last summer’s Democratic National Convention. He also oversaw the 2016 NCAA Men’s East Regionals last March. Michael is an integral member of our team’s success and is well respected among the staff and his peers throughout our company and the industry.”
“Everyday is different,” said Sulkes. “I work with a lot of really great people here. We all work hard but also have a lot of fun while we’re doing it. There’s definitely a true team atmosphere here.”
Sulkes described “the coolest thing I was involved in,” which was when his favorite band, Pearl Jam, played their 10th straight sell out at the center. “We hung a banner from the rafters that said “TEN,” which, coincidentally, is the name of Pearl Jam’s  first album. When they came out, they had the lighting people throw all the spotlights up on the banner and then they played the “Ten” album from beginning to end, something they’ve never done live. It was incredible.”
Sulkes lowpoint was when they lost a concert due to a production issue. “Good communication made getting everyone out of here safely,” he recalled. Another surprise was when Wells Fargo Center had a Pope-visit related event and the guests arrived 10 hours before the start time. “None of us envisioned pulling into the parking lot at 8 a.m. and seeing thousands of people waiting to get into an event scheduled for much, much later.” Sulkes opened the doors early, called in staff and made everyone as comfortable as possible.
Another memorable event for Sulkes was the Democratic National Convention. “We worked on this for a year and a half leading up to the event,” he said. “As it got closer and closer, and boots landed on the ground, it was full-on and nonstop. We had the Secret Service to deal with, the Democratic National Committee, the media and dozens of different organizations. Trying to coordinate that was difficult, but I learned a lot from the experience.”
Finding a work/life balance has been a little daunting for Sulkes; he wants to be there for every event. “I’ve had to learn how to not be here for certain things and try to enjoy life outside the center. It took awhile, but I’m getting better at it,” he offered, not quite convincingly.
Sulkes doesn’t see leaving the venue world anytime soon. “I love this side of the industry,” he said. “It’s sports, major concerts, family shows, that’s what makes the job so exciting.”
Sulkes hopes, as any stalwart company man does, that one day he’ll move up, with parent-company Comcast, of course, and get his own building. But it may mean leaving Wells Fargo Center, the only place he’s ever known. “That would be a tough transition,” he said. “I’m so used to coming here I’d probably drive straight here on autopilot for weeks.”