Amid contract talks, Miami Arena operator shifts managers
By Paola Iuspa
Amid negotiations to renew its contract to manage the Miami Arena and after announcing the venue has a deficit of nearly $1 million, SMG is replacing the site's general manager.
Robert Franklin, who is to step down Aug. 31, said he is accepting a job to run the Tampa Ice Palace, an 18,000-seat arena also run by SMG.
"I have been in the Miami Arena for over 11 years," he said. "I felt it was time for a personal change. I also realized the past of the arena is not relevant to its future."
Mr. Franklin managed the only arena in the area until 1998, when the National Car Rental Center opened in Sunrise. American Airlines Arena opened blocks away in 2000, pulling sports franchises and events from the older facility.
Mr. Franklin said he wanted to hand over his seat to someone with the experience needed to overcome the 17,000-seat Miami Arena's "future challenges."
Beatrice Segui, his assistant, will become general manager and take over contract negotiations with Miami Sports and Exhibition Authority, the arena's landlord, he said. The SMG contract expires in September.
One of Ms. Segui's responsibilities will be to attract more community events and concerts to boost revenues, she said. The arena's losses have been projected to hit $976,309 by Sept. 30, end of the fiscal year. Next year's deficit has been estimated at $678,699, according to an SMG report.
Ms. Segui has been assistant general manager since 1995, coordinating major day-to-day activities, including the box office, finance, marketing and operations departments. She joined the arena in 1989, while Decoma Miami Associates managed the venue. SMG bought Decoma's management rights a year ago, she said.
Ferey Kian, authority finance director, praised Ms. Segui's performance.
"She is very detailed-oriented person," he said. "She knows the business from a financial prospective. She used to be the arena's director of finance before becoming assistant general manager. Rob used to depend on her to analyze the financial impact that events would have on the arena."
If the authority decides to renew SMG's contract, Ms. Segui would be in charge of implementing a new strategy to increase revenues that Mr. Franklin unveiled two weeks ago. The plan includes hiring an advertising sales manager and working closely with the new manager of business development, Marcia Tonda-Escalante.
While James Jenkins, authority executive director, welcomed Ms. Segui in her new role, he said no decision has been made about whether to retain SMG. He said he is studying hiring his own staff to manage the venue.
The sports authority pays SMG about $1 million yearly in salaries and $150,000 in management fees.
Mr. Kian said terms to be negotiated include sharing gain as much as revenue loss. The authority also wants to revisit salaries and management fees and have more say in the running of the arena.
"Franklin did good things for the community like creating the Ticket to Paradise, which gives tickets to nonprofit groups, and the Celebration of Black Achievement," Mr. Kian said. "But the game changed, and what used to work suddenly it doesn't anymore."