Industry vet Garnett to lead facilities division’s planned expansion to new area

At Oak View Group Facilities’ Philadelphia headquarters (from left): Marissa Dionne, senior director of marketing; Tom Paquette, senior vice president; Monique Brycki, senior director of development for facilities; Hank Abate, president; Peter Luukko, chairman; Shura Garnett, senior vice president of convention centers; Doug Higgons, senior vice president; and Ike Richman, communications consultant. (Oak View Group Facilities)

Oak View Group Facilities has opened a convention center division and named Shura Garnett senior vice president of convention centers.

Expansion is the goal. She will also oversee OVG Facilities’ current convention center account, Two Rivers Convention Center in Grand Junction, Colo. She will report to OVG Facilities President Hank Abate, who is based in Philadelphia.

OVG Facilities is a division of Oak View Group, which also owns VenuesNow.

Garnett will continue to reside in St. Charles, Mo., where she last worked for Spectra as a regional vice president and oversaw the St. Charles Convention Center. Garnett is also a VenuesNow Woman of Influence, Class of 2008.

Her days are full of researching convention center management contract expiration dates and new construction, looking for opportunities for OVG Facilities. She is personally precluded from soliciting existing accounts and existing employees of Spectra through October 2019 per her non-compete with that firm.

Peter Luukko, chairman of OVG Facilities, told VenuesNow that he sees a lot of potential in convention center management, particularly with a firm like OVG that is willing to invest in venues.

“I have had the pleasure of working with Shura over the past 20 years, and I know firsthand the impact she will make on our convention center business,” Luukko said in a statement.

Garnett, who left Spectra three months ago, is excited about the potential for expansion at OVG Facilities. She has over 25 years of experience in the venue industry, including her most recent stint in St. Charles, where she served as divisional senior vice president overseeing the company’s 5.2 million square feet of convention center space, and Midwest region of facilities, including Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, Iowa, and Chaifetz Arena on the campus of Saint Louis University.

Garnett started her career as an events manager at the Amarillo (Texas) Civic Center and then became director and CEO of the Midland (Texas) Convention Center and vice president of visitor development for the Midland Chamber of Commerce.

She admits that “nothing gets the adrenaline going like producing a show,” and misses that aspect of the business in convention center management. But the St. Charles Convention Center was so successful that there was little room for events, though convention centers today are hot properties for electronic dance music concerts and esports, as she is well aware.

Garnett previously served as a board member of the Trade Show Executives Exposition Forecasting Board and the Center for Exhibition Industry Research Foundation.

Formerly, Garnett was on the board of directors for the St. Charles Chamber of Commerce and elected to the Texas Department of Economic Development’s Tourism Advisory Committee.

An active member of the International Association of Venues Managers, her contributions there included serving on the Diversity and Inclusion Committee and, previously, as chairman of the IAVM Convention Center Committee, member of the Industry Affairs Committee, member of the board of governors, chair of the Board of Education, and chair of the Diversification Committee. She was then elected first vice president of IAVM and worked her way through the chairs to become the chairman of the board.

She is a member of ASAE, IAEE, IAVM, MPI and PCMA. Honors include the 2008 St. Charles Zonta Yellow Rose Award, the 2005 IAVM Presidential Citation and IAVM’s prestigious Charles A. McElravy Award in 2014.

Oak View Group was founded by Irving Azoff, Tim Leiweke, with Madison Square Garden Entertainment and supported by Silverlake. OVG Facilities is a full-service venue management company that creates customized management plans for each of their venues. The Group currently manages arenas, theaters, convention centers and amphitheaters all over the U.S. and specializes in event programming, venue assessments, and security and emergency preparedness.