CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Monday was the first day on the job for Patrick Leahy as the General Manager of the Charleston Coliseum and Convention Center.
Leahy, who joined Oak View Group (OVG) at the Charleston Coliseum and Convention Center (CCCC) on November 1, began as the Director of Booking. OVG Facilities signed a deal with the City of Charleston in September to take over operations and booking for the facility.
Leahy told MetroNews he wants to follow the benchmarks of the previous administration. The facility has not had an official general manager for more than a year, following the retirement of John Robertson in October 2019.
The search for new leadership was greatly slowed by the COVID-19 pandemic and a new marketing approach as the entertainment industry came to a near halt.
“I’m starting from an existing, well-managed organization of how to care for a building,” Leahy said of the previous regime.
“In terms of how to turn it over, how to clean it, how to maintain it, how to make sure you’re providing the right environment for events.”
Leahy is a 25-year entertainment industry veteran with experience in North and South America, Australia, Middle East and the UK as a senior operating, programming, and development executive in the live entertainment business, according to OVG.
Before joining OVG, he was the Vice President of Programming for the Straz Center for the Performing Arts in Tampa, Florida. There he led artistic programming and producing efforts across 5 theaters.
His experience includes a variety of industry segments, including Arts Presenters, Concert Promotion, Hospitality and Tourism, Professional Domestic and International Sport, Retail, Food and Beverage, Real Estate Development & Property Management.
Leahy is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati’s College Conservatory of Music earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts.
Leahy said one of the factors that attracted him to Charleston was the depth of the facility. He said it’s not just an arena but a chance to manage the small meetings rooms, large scale conference centers, and an amphitheater. The facility underwent a multi-million dollar renovation in 2018 that resulted in great expansion.
The CCCC has been nearly event-less for the past 10 months due to the ongoing pandemic and has most recently held mass COVID-19 vaccination clinics.
Leahy said his group, with Andrew Thompson as Assistant General Manager and Veronica Ratcliff as Marketing Manager, has taken advantage of the downtime to ‘put our system in place.’
“We’ve looked at this as an opportunity to grow staff, cross-train. We’ve taken that advantage,” Leahy said.
“We’ve also been able to take a look at what we want to do in the future and how do we want to approach it.”
Leahy expects the first annual event to come back to the facility is the boys and girls high school basketball tournaments in March. He said that if the virus numbers continue on their current downward trend, his team has a concept in place of a socially distanced basketball event.