SMG Scores Three Venue Management Contracts; Partners with Europe-based Artexis easyFairs

October 27, 2014

Venue management company SMG has had a busy few months, scoring three new venue contracts, as well as forming a joint venture with Europe-based Artexis easyFairs.

The three venue contracts all occurred in the past three months and include not only a long-awaited new convention center in Albany, N.Y., but also the highly anticipated new Minnesota Vikings Stadium and the Tucson (Ariz.) Convention Center.

The Tucson Convention Center, Tucson Arena, Tucson Music Hall and Tucson Leo Rich Theater contracts began Oct. 1. The firm was selected after a recent “request for proposal” process conducted by the City of Tucson. 

“We are pleased and excited to welcome the Tucson Convention Center to our family of SMG-managed properties and are confident the facility will thrive under our leadership, combined with SMG’s booking network, client base and other resources and generate a greater economic impact and higher activity level for the City of Tucson,” said Gregg Caren, SMG executive vice president for convention and exhibition centers.

Construction has already begun on $8.8 million in renovations to the Tucson Arena. The focus of the upgrades includes new seats, updated concession stands, a new sound cluster and video board.  A grand opening event is slated for Jan. 3

“We are pleased to welcome SMG as the new facility management company, and we look forward to enhanced business activity in our facilities as well as a renewed focus on customer service for our guests,” said Greg Jackson, contract administrator for the City of Tucson.

The new convention center on tap in Albany will be called the Albany Capital Center and will provide the city with a contemporary, meeting, ballroom, and exhibit venue. 

The new facility will, at a single 82,000 square foot location, accommodate meetings, banquets and exhibitions simultaneously on two levels, insuring the best visitor and exhibitor experience. 

The new Vikings Stadium is set to open in 2016 and will feature 1.75 million square feet of space, double the size of the existing Metrodome.

Caren said the bidding process was highly competitive, adding, “It will be as much a trade show venue as sport and special event venue; very cool!”

He added that there have been several SMG contract wins during the past few years.

On the larger front, SMG has welcomed (in chronological order) Cobo Center, McCormick Place, the Pennsylvania Convention Center and Cleveland Convention Center since Q4 of 2010.  

“In the category of under 100,000 prime square feet, we have been selected to run the James L. Knight Miami Convention Center, Blue Water Area Convention Center (Port Huron, MI) and seven others in the same period of time,” Caren said.

Also recently, Eric Everard, CEO of Artexis easyFairs, and Wes Westley, SMG president and CEO, announced that they have finalized a strategic alliance and established a joint venture company, Artexis-SMG, which will be based in Brussels and will offer highly specialized venue management services in Europe and other locations.

“SMG is the world’s leading company in venue management, with a portfolio of 74 exhibition and convention centers. It sets the ‘gold standard’ in public facility management and I am delighted that we will be working together,” Everard said.

He added, “Here in Europe, there is strong demand from public and private owners of congress, convention and exhibition centers for specialist expertise to maximize revenue streams and to help them host top quality events. Our new joint venture, Artexis-SMG, is better placed than anyone to meet this demand.”

Westley added, “I have been very impressed by the professionalism of Artexis operations at its eight venues in Belgium and Sweden. We share similar values and a belief in the energizing effect that venues can have on local economies. With his extensive experience of managing multi-format venues and as one of Europe’s recognized industry entrepreneurs, Håkan Gershagen is the ideal choice as Artexis-SMG’s Vice President, Business Development.”

The new joint venture will function independently from Artexis easyFairs’ activities as an event organiser. It will adopt SMG’s formula for professional venue management and apply them in the European context. 

“Property owners benefit from the full force of SMG working to send business their way, and events planners gain the ability to check SMG venues and available dates 24/7,” Caren said. “We are hugely excited at the prospect of our joint venture offering a similar added value proposition in Europe.”

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