Backbeat: VenueConnect Conference Brings Together Venue Managers, Ticketing Companies and More in New Orleans

Sworn enemies Matt McDonnell, left, assistant executive director of the Mississippi Coast Coliseum in Biloxi, and Tim Reese, GM of the Thompson Boling Arena at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, managed to put their differences aside for this photo


The mood has been generally upbeat at VenueConnect -- the 87th annual conference and trade show for the International Association of Venue Managers (IAVM) -- which is running July 27-30 at the Morial Convention Center in New Orleans. The conference, which attracts those in the business of public assembly and executives from convention centers, arenas, performing arts centers, civic centers, theaters, etc., was well attended (though trade show exhibitors were down), most noticeably among ticketing companies.


Hugh Lombardi, left, senior VP and GM of the TD Garden Arena, with Allen Johnson, executive director of venues for the City of Orlando, center, and Todd Hunt, GM of the BancorpSouth Arena in Tupelo, Mississippi

Billboard was there, though, and a steady stream of arena managers stopped by the Billboard booth to catch up on details of the 10th Annual Billboard Touring Conference & Awards, set for Nov. 13-14 at the Roosevelt Hotel in NYC. That conference is programmed by Billboard’s Ray Waddell, who was set to moderate a panel of agents and promoters at VenueConnect later today. In general, arena managers are reporting steady-to-strong business this year, though arena managers in secondary markets did report issues in attracting solid ticket sellers to their respective markets.

Travis Janovich, left, CEO of eTix, heads to the French Quarter with Jim McCue, SVP bookings, SMG

Scott Mullen, center, executive director of the iWireless Center in Moline, Ill., catches up with Brock Jones, right, VP of bookings for Global Spectrum, and Paul Beard, VP/COO, Smith Center for the Performing Arts, Las Vegas, at the Billboard booth