A visit to the multiuse Maverik Center near Salt Lake City several weeks ago proved “very enlightening” for the Idaho Falls Auditorium District board of directors, chairwoman Terri Gazdik said.
“We got to understand the depths of the management team — from the people operating the Zambonis to those doing ticketing and marketing,” she said. “We saw what it takes to run one of these centers.”
The Maverik Center is run by Utah-based Centennial Management Group. A memorandum of understanding tentatively attaches Centennial to manage the eventual Idaho Falls Event Center, though the contract isn’t binding and most details must be worked out.
But the visit “really solidified our understanding of the expertise Centennial has” as well as the company’s leverage with regional touring acts, Gazdik said.
“The management team has contacts with all those acts,” she said. “And the Maverik Center’s proximity — under 300 miles away — is important to us. We can take advantage of acts that go to the Maverik Center and piggyback onto their schedules. We can bring in shows we may not be able to otherwise.”
The Maverik Center’s 20-year history also could prove instructive.
Gazdik said touring the facility reinforced the need for operations personnel to review the Idaho Falls Event Center blueprints for potentially flawed design characteristics: whether there’s sufficient room and flow to move equipment or concessions, whether construction allows strong Wi-Fi connectivity, how layout can optimize security, etc.
“That way we can say ‘What would you do differently after 20 years?’ We have the opportunity to incorporate those things into our plan before we build. Their insight and wisdom is critical to making this successful,” Gazdik said.
The board of directors likely will hire an executive director before diving into management contract negotiations with Centennial, or another management group.
Job listings are live and human resources firm TEG Global had three qualified applicants as of Friday, Gazdik said. Directors hope to fill the position by Jan. 1.
The search coincides with a fundraising “readiness campaign” by Utah-based consulting firm Pathways Associates, which previously reported on the philanthropic potential to be expected by the Auditorium District.
The Auditorium District will pay Pathways $20,000 for three to four months of work in preparation for a campaign to raise the necessary funds to initiate construction of the Idaho Falls Event Center. Fees for the fundraising campaign proper haven’t been negotiated.
The board will commission an additional event center operations feasibility study in advance of the fundraising campaign. The previous study, detailing management costs and event booking expectations, among other things, was originally released in 2008 before the Auditorium District was formed.
“The board felt an update to our feasibility study was necessary to update to today’s economy and to provide current information as we go out and raise funds. When the public asks questions we’ll have a document to answer those questions,” Gazdik said.
Reporter Kevin Trevellyan can be reached at 208-542-6762.