New leadership is at the helm of the Raising Cane’s River Center.
ASM Global, the company that runs the facility for the city-parish, has named Shane Chalmers as general manager. He succeeds Les Crooks, who served as interim GM for a little more than a year.
Chalmers, who assumed his new position this week, is a native of Scotland and has managed exhibition facilities and arenas around the world. He comes to the position most recently from South America, where he managed a sports arena in Montevideo, Uruguay, for one year.
Prior to that, he spent seven years overseeing the development of a major sports arena in Istanbul, Turkey, and, before that, managed various facilities in the United Kingdom.
This is his first assignment in the U.S.
ASM Global is a newly created company, formed in the fall of 2019, when SMG—which managed the River Center for years—merged with AEG. ASM assumed the local management contract after the merger. Chalmers comes from the AEG side of the business.
“This is just day two, so really I’m going to familiarize myself with the building, the people, the staff, the clients,” he says. “So really it’s about fact finding for me right now but I’m excited to be here.”
Chalmers isn’t the only new face around the River Center. ASM also named a new director of operations, Scott Cornwell, and promoted from within a new events manager, Taylor Holloway.
The leadership changes come as the city-parish is focusing on how to maximize both the financial and economic development potential of the facility. The trio was introduced this morning at a meeting of a recently formed River Center Advisory Committee.
The committee is currently finalizing an RFP for a study that will look at ways to make the facility more competitive. Assistant Chief Administrative Officer Veneeth Iyengar, who heads the committee for the city-parish, says he hopes to issue the RFP by the end of the month.
Visit Baton Rouge is paying for the study, which is estimated to cost $125,000.
Among the items it is expected to address are whether the facility has the right mix of meeting rooms versus entertainment and exhibition space, how to make it more attractive to potential exhibitors and performers, and whether it needs an official convention center hotel.
Baton Rouge Area Chamber President and CEO Adam Knapp, a member of the advisory committee, says he also hopes the study will address whether the publicly subsidized River Center can both generate economic development activity and break even, if not turn a small profit.
“We need to look at the financial and business plan strategy around the complex so it isn’t something the city is losing money on every year,” Knapp says.