Concert business veteran Gene Felling, who served as GM of Inglewood, Calif.'s Forum from 2005-2007 is returning to his old post at the legendary arena.

Facility management company VenuWorks has signed a memo of understanding with the 18,000-capacity arena's owner, Forum Enterprises, to begin a five-year management contract of the building beginning Sept. 1. The Forum's previous facility manager was SMG.

In addition to GM, Felling has also been tapped to serve as VenuWorks' Western regional VP. He most recently served as COO/GM of Broomfield Sports and Entertainment in Broomfield, Colo. His career also includes stints at Universal Concerts, Kroenke Sports, Clear Channel Entertainment and SMG.

Here, Felling discusses his upcoming plans as the Forum's new GM.

You were the Forum's GM from 2005-2007. Why did you return to the building?
I had been running the Broomfield Events Center (now 1stBank Center in Broomfield, Colo.) and they had a management change there. The folks from the Forum called and wanted to know if I'd be interested in coming back and I jumped at it. It's a great arena; the people love it and the bands love it. I had a great time when I was there before. We had a lot of success and I hope to continue that.

What will your booking strategy be?
A lot of the bands like to rehearse there, and then do a show or two in association with their rehearsals or routed back in on their tours. So we'll try to keep that success going. The Forum has great sound and 18,000 seats, and the bands make a lot of money there. And the fans really love it. Generation after generation has grown up in the Los Angeles market going to concerts at the Forum. So it's a very well known building and people love going there.

How many events would you like to book annually?
We hope to increase what's happened over the last few years. The building has had a certain measurement of success in the last five years. We'd like to grow that; not only bring additional concerts in and rehearsals, but also family events and whatever we can, like motivational events or religious events. It's just a great building and it's in a great market. When the bands play there, they're kind of awestruck at the history of the place.

Have you booked any dates since taking over the post?
Not yet. It's making sure people know the building is available and ready to rock'n'roll.

How will you compete with the other venues in the Los Angeles market?
There is certainly a lot of competition. We have a lot more available dates and don't have the sports tenants that a lot of the other buildings have. We're not going to pretend to compete with them; we want to offer the Forum as a viable alternative. A lot of bands prefer playing the Forum and a lot of bands prefer playing at [Staples Center] and the other arenas. We're an alternative for the entertainers that want to play the market, and perhaps Staples doesn't have an available date or one of the other arenas are not available. We certainly want to be there and be able to serve them.

Are there any new opportunities at the Forum that didn't exist when you left three years ago?
The building is in great shape. My predecessors and the church owners have done a great job maintaining the building. We could do a concert there tomorrow. Indeed, the Lakers played there last year for their 50th anniversary and filled the place up with over 17,000 people. It's kind of like a step back in time when you walk into the building, because everything is exactly the same as it's always been. If you were at a concert 10 years ago at the Forum, it's going to look the same. A lot of people like that.

Are there any renovation plans in the works?
I think every building can stand some sort of update. As we progress we'll look at the areas and concentrate on fan comforts and artist comforts. But at this point it's very premature. Right now we're just trying to get some activity into the building. Then we'll see what we've got to do to spiff it up. But it really doesn't need it. You drive by and the place looks great. Then you go inside and it looks even better. It looks better now than it did when I left three years ago.

In addition to booking, you'll also be responsible for selling sponsorships and advertising. Elaborate on what you'll be doing in that role?
It's a tough time. And without events you don't have sponsors or advertisers. We want to concentrate on bringing a few shows back in and a variety of programming, and dovetail that with some facility sponsors.

You've also been named VenuWorks' Western regional VP. Will you be routing shows from VenuWorks' other buildings into the Forum?
Specifically, I'll be responsible for booking The Alerus Center in Grand Forks, North Dakota, which is a beautiful complex. It's a great arena, convention center and hotel. So I'll be booking that and trying to take some of those bookings and move them into the Forum, and vice versa.

Felling can be reached by phone at 310-330-7308 or by e-mail at gfelling@venuworks.com.