After nearly four years at the helm, Michael Day is leaving his position as general manager of the Raising Cane’s River Center at the end of the year.
He’s relocating to Reno, Nevada, where he has accepted a position with another facility operated by SMG, the company that manages the River Center.
Day will be replaced by Les Crooks, a veteran SMG administrator, who will serve as interim GM until a permanent replacement is named. Crooks knows the Baton Rouge market, having worked at the River Center in the early 2000s.
During his tenure in Baton Rouge, Day has overseen several significant events in the history of the more than 40-year-old River Center and also faced some unforeseen challenges.
Following the August 2016 flood, the arena was transformed for several weeks into a shelter for hundreds of flood victims, which forced the cancellation of several planned events.
Later that fall, the facility inked a 10-year, $3 million deal with Raising Cane’s to become the named sponsor for the arena, exhibition hall, ballroom and galleries.
More recently, work has begun on an expansion and overhaul of the River Center Performing Arts Theater, a project that is expected to cost some $18 million and take more than 18 months to complete. Officials hope to have it completed by August 2020.
Remediation work to remove asbestos from the theater was completed earlier this month. The city-parish is currently accepting bids for a general contractor for the project, which will include the addition of new concession stands, cross aisles, private and corporate boxes, a VIP/subscribers’ lounge, expanded lobby and elevators that go from the garages to the top of the balcony level.
“It will be with mixed emotions that I leave, as the flood was a major setback, and I have a number of improvements in the works that I would have liked to see through,” he says. “But the timing didn’t work out for that. There are a lot of good things coming to the River Center.”