The City of Mankato is in the process of taking over management of the Verizon Center, a shift from years of private management of the City owned facility.
Over the last 25-years, management of the civic center has transitioned from Ogden & Company to IM Marketing, with Burt Lyman serving as the executive director of the civic center. The City’s contract with Lyman is set to come to end in 2019 and his stint as the director came to an end earlier this month after his announced retirement.
City Manager Pat Hentges says taking over management of the facility will save the city approximately 200-thousand dollars.
“You know again, there’s gonna be a lot of skills that Burt had brought to the Civic Center, in terms of marketing. As I mentioned, one of his largest accomplishments early on in his career with the City was the naming rights. We were the first small market venue in the nation, essentially, to have naming rights.”
Those naming rights to Verizon brings in around 150-thousand dollars a year.
But some issues over the last year have resulted in unhappiness with the Center after low staffing at the 2017 MSU Men’s Hockey opener led to some fans missing a portion of the game and continued ice problems at the Verizon Center, which cost the City 2.5-million dollars to fix the dehumidification unit and mechanical system. Hentges says he was involved in the resolution of both issues.
“I think there was certainly a little bit of blame to go around. Certainly both the management, both with maybe the operational staff and certainly my attention to the matter. So from that vantage point, you know, that didn’t necessarily lead to why we were making this change.”
Lyman will remain on the payroll until the end of the year and will help oversee planning for the Minnesota Air Spectacular, which takes place at the Mankato airport in June of 2019.
Current Verizon Center Marketing Manager Eric Jones and Hospitality Manager Brian Sather will serve as Co-Directors for the facility over the next 18-months.