Number of honorees on VenuesNow’s inaugural list of industry All-Stars

With the September issue, we present the debut of the VenuesNow All-Stars, a group of 50 extraordinary people and places changing the face of the venues business. It’s a franchise that we’re excited to introduce and one that we plan to build on in the years to come.

To come up with our fabulous 50, being saluted at a reception Sept. 9 in New York City to kick off our third annual VenuesNow Conference, members of the editorial team researched candidates and vigorously debated their merits, as well as reached out to members of the industry for feedback. We assembled the list with the idea of representing the many sectors that make up the business: venue management, from clubs to stadiums and festivals; branding, sponsorship and sales; architecture and construction; concessions; technology; operations and security; and ticketing. We also looked at commissioners, building and franchise owners and college officials who influence arenas and stadiums as well as content executives who supply the shows.

As we evaluated individuals for the list, factors included documented excellence, innovation, financial success, commitment to diversity, and leadership in their field. We paid close attention to what they had done in the last year, though not to the exclusion of the rest of their careers, so consistency and reputation also were part of the picture.

Not everyone on this team has been in the business a long time, but sports all-star teams are like that, too: a mix of future hall of famers, wily veterans and hot phenoms. It’s part of the chemistry we were looking for.

We are proud that nearly a third of the 40 individuals among the VenuesNow All-Stars are women. It’s a reflection of our increasingly inclusive industry. That said, we know we can do better. There is not enough racial diversity on this list, something we strive to change as our industry, indeed the world around us, in that regard changes for the better. 

In addition to the 40 individuals on the All-Stars roster, we have 10 venues on the list (well, nine venues and a trend, if we’re being precise) in categories. There we placed more emphasis on the preceding 12 months of performance. Hosting mega-events; producing big numbers in our Pollstar Boxoffice-supplied data; and generating discussion for innovation in design and operations were all taken into account.

Then there’s the OVG question: OVG Media & Conferences, VenuesNow’s owner, is a division of Oak View Group, a company that’s unquestionably part of the industry we cover. Although there are worthy, viable candidates for All-Stars within the company (truthfully, no one could seriously argue that OVG executives are not significantly impacting the venue industry in myriad ways), we decided not to include any of them on the inaugural list. We want the spotlight directly on our first class of honorees, not on whether it was appropriate to include one of our own among them.

We’ll re-evaluate that decision, and every other decision that went into the inaugural All-Stars list, as we look to make a good thing better. (We’d welcome your contribution to the discussion; email VenuesNow Managing Editor Rob Knapp at rknapp@oakviewgroup.com.)

This wasn’t an easy task — scores of high achievers work in and around venues, more than can fit on a list of 50 — but we’re committed to honoring the best of this ever-evolving industry. Meet our Class of 2019 here, and we’ll start thinking about 2020.