NEPA Scene Staff

Mohegan Sun Arena in Wilkes-Barre extends contract with Penguins, names new general manager

Mohegan Sun Arena in Wilkes-Barre extends contract with Penguins, names new general manager
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From a press release:

The Luzerne County Convention Center Authority announced today that they have come to terms on contract extensions with the National Hockey League’s Pittsburgh Penguins and SMG Management, keeping both organizations at Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza in Wilkes-Barre Township for the foreseeable future.

“The Luzerne County Convention Center Authority was fortunate in the past to have made the decision to associate with two stellar organizations: our management company and food and beverage provider, SMG, and the Pittsburgh Penguins organization with its American Hockey League team, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins,” said LCCCA Board Chairman Gary Zingaretti.

“The partnership between the authority and these fine organizations has served the citizens of Luzerne County and all of Northeastern Pennsylvania for almost 20 years. I would like to personally commend SMG, the Penguins, my fellow LCCCA Board members, County Council members, and local politicians, both past and current, for their efforts over these past 20+ years and during the recent negotiations. We are proud of our joint efforts to produce mutually acceptable, long-term extensions of these relationships.”

The LCCCA unanimously voted Wednesday on a resolution on a 10-year contract lease extension with the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins to keep the American Hockey League’s Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in Northeastern Pennsylvania. The agreement calls for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins to remain and play its seasons in the authority’s Mohegan Sun Arena for an additional 10 years, commencing in July of 2019, subject to terms of the lease.

“The Pittsburgh Penguins are excited to extend our long-term partnership with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and the many fans and community partners who have made it such a success,” said David Morehouse, president and CEO of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

“We especially want to thank Senator John Yudichak and Authority Chairman Gary Zingaretti for their leadership and support. As we like to say in Pittsburgh, this is a ‘great day for hockey.’”

As part of the negotiations, the LCCCA has committed to invest nearly two million dollars over the next six years in venue enhancements, including the installation of a state-of-the-art LED ribbon board and LED lighting system.

“The authority is committed to ensuring our venue remains a first-class facility providing our tenant, events, and guests with the latest technological and energy-efficient accommodations,” Zingaretti said.

“With the addition of the ribbon board and lighting system, along with the venue wifi project, we are making substantial improvements to the fan experience.”

Contract extensions were also announced on Wednesday with the venue’s management team, SMG, and food and beverage services provider, SAVOR…Wilkes-Barre. Both contracts are for 10-year terms beginning in January of 2020. SMG has been the venue’s management services team since 2000, when SMG acquired Ogden Entertainment. SAVOR…Wilkes-Barre has been the food and beverage services provider since 2010.

The LCCCA also announced that Will Beekman, current executive director of the F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts in Wilkes-Barre, has been named the new general manager of Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza, effective May 13, 2019. Beekman joins SMG after nine years at the Kirby Center, which included the last six years as executive director. Beekman will take over for previous General Manager Brian Sipe, who accepted the position of booking manager for the Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky last month.

“We are delighted to have Will be joining the SMG team and confident that through his proven leadership skills and involvement in our community that our venue will continue its great success and remain the premiere destination for entertainment in the region,” Zingaretti said.

“I’d also like to publicly thank Mr. Brian Sipe for his years of service to our venue and community and wish him and his wife Kaitlyn all the best in their new life ventures.”

Beekman served as both venue manager and talent buyer and has helped lead the Kirby Center into uncharted waters, including being ranked No. 93 on Pollstar’s list of worldwide theater venues, based on tickets sales for the 2018 calendar year.

Beekman is a two-time graduate of Penn State University and has worked for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins from 2001-2007 and the Bryce Jordan Center in State College from 2007 to 2010 as the marketing manager.

Beekman received the Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Commerce’s 2018 Innovator of the Year Award and, on June 6, he will receive the 2019 Distinguished Leadership Award at Leadership Wilkes-Barre’s 38th annual dinner and graduation. He also sits on the board of directors for the Penn State Wilkes-Barre Advisory Board, Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Commerce, Diamond City Partnership, and Wilkes-Barre YMCA. Beekman currently lives in Duryea with his wife, Katie, and their daughters Hannah, 6, and Allie, 3.

The Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza is owned by the Luzerne County Convention Center Authority, a government body appointed by Luzerne County. The arena is managed by SMG, the world leader in entertainment and sports facilities management, with catering and concessions services provided by SAVOR… at Mohegan Sun Arena.

Founded in 1977, SMG provides management services to 243 public assembly facilities, including convention and exhibition centers, arenas, stadiums, theaters, performing arts centers, equestrian facilities, science centers, and a variety of other venues. With facilities across the globe, SMG manages more than 19 million square feet of exhibition space and more than 1.5 million sports and entertainment seats.

SMG provides venue management, sales, marketing, event booking and programming, construction and design consulting, and pre-opening services for such landmark facilities as McCormick Place & Soldier Field in Chicago, Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco, Houston’s NRG Park, and the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans. SMG also offers food and beverage operations through its concessions and catering companies, currently serving more than 140 accounts worldwide.