Subaru Park in Chester, Pa., shown during the Premier Lacrosse League championship game in September, is among the venues operated by Philadelphia-based Spectra. (Getty Images)

At least four VPs let go amid COVID-19 industry shutdown

Spectra, a provider of facility management services, has laid off about 40 employees, sources said. The action comes after the COVID-19 pandemic shut down sports and entertainment venues across North America and follows moves by other companies in the same areas of business.

The cuts affect all divisions in which Spectra operates: building operations, food service, ticketing, marketing and business development. All told, they account for one-third of Spectra’s corporate structure, including Philadelphia headquarters and regional offices, sources said.

At least four layoffs were vice presidents: Scott Swiger (culinary excellence), Jacque Holowaty (client experience and ticketing) and Dave Leibowitz (business development finance and strategy), plus regional VP Tim Murphy, who served as Spectra’s general manager of Subaru Park, home of Major League Soccer’s Philadelphia Union.

Spectra officials declined to comment on the situation, spokesperson Blair Cardinal said.

Mike Ahearn, a senior vice president at Spectra and who’s been at the company since 1999, has taken over as GM of Subaru Park, said Tim McDermott, the Union’s chief business officer.

The moves don’t include other Spectra employees that received furloughs in the company’s corporate headquarters in Philadelphia, and in the field, where the firm serves about 300 clients, sources said. Those employees could potentially return to their jobs. 

Spectra is co-owned by private equity firm Atairos and Comcast Spectacor, owner and operator of Wells Fargo Center and owner of the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers. The moves contrast with action taken by Comcast Corp., parent firm of Comcast Spectacor. Earlier this month, Brian Roberts, CEO of Comcast, announced he had committed $500 million to support employees whose jobs were affected by the coronavirus.

The pandemic has led to belt-tightening at other companies doing business with sports and entertainment venues. With tours canceled, family show producers Feld Entertainment and Cirque du Soleil have both had major layoffs.

On the food service side, Delaware North placed two-thirds of its 3,100 full-time workers on temporary leave and cut salaries of top executives including the Jacobs family, owner of the company, media outlets reported. Aramark put some employees on furlough and reduced senior executives’ salaries by 25%.

In addition, Charlotte-based Compass Group North America, owner of Levy and Bon Appeitit, two big league food providers, has furloughed workers, although company officials would not disclose how many people have been affected, according to local report. Parent company Compass, headquartered in the United Kingdom, is the world’s largest food vendor with 600,000 employees. Last year, its total revenue exceeded $32 billion.

Cuts at the local level have been reported across the food service industry.

Learfield IMG College, whose owners include Atairos, reportedly instituted furloughs and salary cuts as temporary measures. Live Nation, the world’s biggest concert promoter, made salary cuts for a half-dozen executives, and CEO Michael Rapino gave up his $3 million salary for the rest of 2020.

At Spectra, the four vice presidents affected all have extensive industry experience.

Murphy alone has more than 30 years of experience running venues such as Wells Fargo Center and the old Pittsburgh Civic Arena when he was employed with SMG. He also ran back of house operations at Citizens Bank Park. Most recently, Murphy had oversight of 16 facilities and one outdoor venue in the northeast and Canada.

Swiger spent about four years with Spectra and six years with Aramark over his career in the food service business. 

Holowaty worked 15 years at Spectra in ticketing and operations at arenas in Colorado, Pennsylvania and Canada. She was promoted to vice president of ticketing in 2014 and VP of client experience and ticketing in 2018.

Leibowitz spent more than seven years with Spectra in finance and was promoted to vice president in 2018. He worked for about 14 years at SMG.

In addition, Frank Russo, who carried the title of executive vice president, is no longer with Spectra, sources said.

For the past several years, Russo served as a consultant for Spectra in business development. Russo became an arena manager in 1983 at the Hartford (Conn.) Civic Center and worked for the old Ogden Entertainment before joining Global Spectrum, now Spectra, in 2000.

Spectra is among four companies that specialize in running public assembly facilities. 

VenuesNow’s parent firm, Oak View Group, extends to OVG Facilities, which has deals with about 35 venues in development, operations, and booking and marketing. To date, there have been no changes in the corporate structure, said Peter Luukko, chairman of OVG Facilities.

ASM Global, the industry’s biggest facility management firm, runs a half-dozen NFL stadiums, plus multiple NBA and NHL arenas among 300-plus accounts. Bob Newman, ASM Global’s president and CEO, did not return an email for comment.

VenuWorks, based in Ames, Iowa, operates about 50 arenas, theaters and convention centers. Steve Peters, the firm’s president and owner, did not return an email for comment.

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated since it was originally posted.