GM search for Charleston Coliseum slows as board looks at new marketing approach

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Originally hoping for a potential hire in the first two months of 2020, the Board of Directors for the Charleston Coliseum and Convention Center is slowing its roll on the search for a new executive director.

The decision comes as the board is exploring of retaining a booking and marketing firm for the facility, which could change the job description of the new head boss.

Carrie Fenwick, the president of the facility’s Board of Directors, told MetroNews the change of the job description would ultimately change who the board would look for in that role.

Carrie Fenwick

“If we decide to, after review, pursue an option like that then there likely will be help from a booking and marketing firm,” Fenwick said. “A lot of arenas have gone this route. But it will modify and affect the job description and kind of who we are looking for.”

“It (the search) will deliberately slow down to let the processes work on parallel tracks.”

The general manager search began in October when longtime GM John Robertson retired. Executive recruitment firm SearchWide Global was then hired for the search and most recently was approved by the city council to continue services in 2020. It has previously been reported that the firm will receive $37,500 for their services.

Fenwick said that contacts with SearchWide are expected in Charleston on January 27 and 28 to meet with city and arena officials and further discuss what they are looking for in the hire.

What officials are looking for in the role could all change come approving the firm idea. It came out of a board meeting in early December and a Request For Information (RFI) was quickly put out at the beginning of January, according to Fenwick.

She expects those RFIs back to the board on Wednesday, where a subcommittee will then meet and review the possibilities.

“It’s what a lot of other arenas do,” she said. “It works with the people you have in place and it helps with the consolidation of markets, booking of acts and all of that to have a bigger seat at the table.”

According to Fenwick, the new executive director would be interfacing and working with the firm, as leaders in the past worked on booking and marketing with their own resources.

Jim Smith

For now, Jim Smith remains in his role as interim executive director. Fenwick complimented Smith’s ability to lead during this time, saying he and all other officials understand the importance of this process.

“We want to make sure we get it right,” Fenwick said. “A lot of things have changed over the last couple of years in that industry. There has been a lot of consolidation in the industry in terms of booking acts and we want to make sure we are taking advantage of all that and making sure we are thinking of everything we can.”

Fenwick said a new ballpark for an executive director hire is March into April. Their goal is to narrow down the search to bring in 3 to 4 candidates for extensive interviews.