Micheal Marion, CFE
General Manager, Verizon Arena, North Little Rock, Arkansas
In 1975, I was asked by the president of the Mississippi State University Student Association if I wanted to be the Concert Chairman. I said, “Sure, What do you do?” Over the next four years, we booked Bruce Springsteen, Earth Wind & Fire, The Commodores, Hall & Oates and a lot of other big groups at that time.
I graduated and joined an agency in Los Angeles for six years and helped handle Whitney Houston, Men At Work, Tina Turner and a lot of big ‘80s acts. We had a lot of fun, but an opportunity to return to my hometown of Tupelo, Mississippi opened up, and I left to help with the design and construction of a new arena. It was in this arena that I experienced one of my biggest highlights — an agency friend had called from back in Los Angeles and, when it was all said and done, we ended up with the Eagles on a Saturday night in Tupelo.
The opportunity to help with a new arena opened up again, and I moved on to design and open an 18,000-seat venue in Little Rock, Arkansas. And here I am today.
I was aware of IAVM even during my time at Mississippi State. As an agent in Los Angeles, we would go to IAVM’s annual conference to exhibit and meet with venue managers. So once I moved over to the venue side of the industry, I immediately joined and began getting involved with the association.
Going to the Venue Management School (VMS) was a key experience for me. I met a lot of people, and gained a good understanding and overview of everything that goes on in a building. Like most venue managers, I came into my position from one area of focus (book- ing), so VMS helped me learn the other pieces like F&B, Operations and the Box Office. Now Iam able to teach at VMS and contribute back to IAVM to support the same education that helped me solidify my career as a venue manager.
Our business is a very odd business. We sell a good time, and with that type of an intangible, there is only a small group of people that understands how that works, and it is nice to be around people like that.