The Fort Smith Convention Center has a new general manager with the new year. Tim Seeberg left his position as the general manager Jan. 4, and Marc Mulherin began as the new general manager.
Beginning Jan. 4, Mulherin will lead the Oak View Group team in selling and marketing the Fort Smith Convention Center, securing live entertainment, increasing meetings and conventions, consumer and trade shows, as well as local corporate and social events, a press release on the new hire said. Mulherin is a 20-year veteran of U.S. convention center and hotel operations. Mulherin has a bachelor’s degree in business management from Bryant University in Smithfield, R.I.
The Fort Smith Board of Directors unanimously approved a contract to allow Los Angeles-based Oak View Group (OVG) to manage the Fort Smith Convention Center beginning Jan. 1. The contract has an initial 3-year term, with options for up to seven subsequent one-year terms. The city will pay a management fee of $8,500 a month, subject to annual CPI adjustment, plus commission on food and beverage sales. There also will be possible performance and sales commission incentives.
OVG will invest up to $500,000 to put a full-service commercial kitchen in the convention center. They would recoup that expense through $50,000 annual installment payments for 10 years that would come from the facility’s operating fund. That rate would be prorated over the number of years the agreement was in effect if the contract is terminated before 10 years, the agreement states. OVG also will make a $25,000 investment for an initial “Solicitation of Events” fund.
The city will continue to own the convention center, including the use of designated rooms for public meetings and as an emergency facility in support of the city’s memorandum of understanding with the Arkansas Department of Health.
“We are confident that Oak View Group is the right team to reestablish Fort Smith as a premier destination for meetings and conventions. Marc has a proven track record and an outstanding reputation for leading venues like ours to great success,” said Fort Smith City Administrator Carl Geffken.
Before joining Oak View Group, Mulherin was the general manager for the Branson Convention Center in Branson, Mo., since 2014 where he led building operations, finance, food and beverage, and sales and marketing. During his career he also worked as assistant general manager at McCormick Place in Chicago; food and beverage director at TD Garden in Boston; and director of catering at Lancaster County Convention Center in Lancaster, Penn. He also worked for Aramark, a leading food and beverage sales for several convention centers, including Boston Convention & Expo Center and Hynes Convention Center in Boston; the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, Calif; and the Los Angeles Convention Center and Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles.
“Marc has an extensive knowledge of facility management with an emphasis on sales, events, and food and beverage,” said Shura Garnett, OVG senior vice president. “He is a strategic business leader and adept at driving new financial growth in sales, food and beverage and building operations revenues. At Oak View Group we take great pride in making sure our local, on-site leadership quickly becomes engaged within the community and we know Marc will do great things for the City of Fort Smith.”
In addition to securing the contract for the Fort Smith Convention Center, OVG recently added the Charleston Convention Center in Charleston, W.V., the Jackson Convention Center in Jackson, Miss., and the Fredericksburg Expo and Convention Center in Frederick, Md.
The Fort Smith human resource department did not have a starting salary for Mulherin because he will be an employee of OVG. Seeberg’s salary was $80,745.08, according to Shari Cooper, communications manager for the City of Fort Smith. She said they do not know whether Seeberg will stay in Fort Smith after the first of January.