Posted on October 23,2018
In Misun's #MyDowntownRochMN story she shared the many memories she has had at the Mayo Civic Center with her family and how much she enjoys attending events there. So we took the time to sit down with the Managing Director, Andy Krogstad and Marketing Manager, Erin Okins to get the inside scoop on upcoming events, day to day operations and more.
Samantha: Hi Andy and Erin, thanks so much for getting together with me to talk about the Mayo Civic Center. Want to start off by telling me a little about why you enjoy your job?
Andy: The event business is a fast-pace industry. I’m proud of how our team works together to execute successful events to fulfill our mission as SE MN’s premiere event facility. Compared to other venues this size, we have limited staff and resources; staff engagement and dedication is critical for our team to be efficient and effective. We do it well, and maintain a very positive rating from our event clients. The most fun part of my job is seeing the joy in kids’ eyes when a family show like “Paw Patrol” or “Sesame Street” takes the stage. The kids get so excited. These are the events that I find the most rewarding and fulfilling.
Erin: The most fun part for me is that no two events are alike. We could be hosting a high school championship basketball game on one side of the building and a comedian, like Brian Regan (coming in November), on the other side of the building. It’s so awesome to work in a place where people come to have fun! Attendee energy is contagious!
Samantha: That sound like a great job, I love the variety, but aside from event space, what else does the Mayo Civic Center offer?
Erin: Well, it’s not as well known that we have two outdoor spaces. Mayo Park and our new Riverfront Plaza with Rochester’s new art sculpture are other great locations for hosting events – weather depending. We’re not just renting four walls, we have intergrated technology and professional event coordinators that are assisting events from start to finish. As a public assembly facility, we understand large crowds and know what it takes to help develop successful events.
Samantha: Technology is always such a huge part of any event, so it's great to know that you have some options available there, but speaking of large crowds, what is the biggest event that has been hosted at the Mayo Civic Center?
Andy: We’ve had many large events over the years. Our largest ongoing event has been the Christian Congregation of Jehovah Witnesses. This convention group brings over 20,000 people each summer to Rochester. Hosting high school basketball and wrestling tournaments also brings thousands of attendees each season. We hear every year that the Auditorium is the best place to play a basketball game – it has that Hoosiers (movie) feel. Plus, annual events like the Rochester Area Builders Home Show, Festival of Trees, and the Eagles Cancer Telethon continue to see growth each year.
Samantha: Now I know the Mayo Civic Center just went through a large expansion, can you tell me a little about that?
Andy: We are now able to attract larger convention groups and offer the modern amenities that meeting planners are looking for. The building currently offers more than 200,000 square feet of flexible meeting and event space. The convention center’s innovative design and amenities make it ideal for many different industries. We are also able to host multiple events simulatenously – something we couldn’t always previously do.
Samantha: The building is beautiful and I also love that it is centrally located in the heart of Downtown. Do you feel like that has affected your business?
Andy: Mayo Civic Center is a vital cultural and economic asset to our residents and local businesses. Last year, Mayo Civic Center hosted over 297,000 attendees to coventions, entertainment, social and sporting events. Our events and conventions bring people to Rochester and while they are here, they stay in our hotels, eat at our unique local restaurants and shop Downtown. Everything is walkable and convenient and we hear often that people appreciate this.
Samantha: Well we know that Downtown is going through a lot of change right now, what does the future look like for the Mayo Civic Center?
Andy: One of our goals is to continue to be a significant and sustainable economic generator for the city and community. As Rochester grows, we’ll continue to attract more regional and national business.
Erin: I agree, it’s also important for us to be a community partner and we are looking at new ways to connect with the community. Our team strives to create memorable experiences for all guests, so looking for ways to provide exceptional customer services is a priority for us.
Samantha: That's great, thank you for your continued commitment to the community. Now I want to know what your favorite memory thus far?
Andy: It’s hard to pick a favorite because they are all fun. For me personally, picking up Jay Leno from his hotel and bringing him to Mayo Civic Center and meeting former president, then senator, Barack Obama. I also enjoyed driving Loretta Lynn around the building and watching her give our staff hugs – she appreciated our team.
Our staff also put together a Christmas celebration for country band Little Big Town. They were touring during the holidays with their families so we thought it would be fun to create a festive gathering space for them. They really appreciated it!
Samantha: That sounds amazing! Now to end this interview, I'm hoping you can give me the inside scoop on upcoming events?
Andy: We’re working on some things but our lips are sealed for now. The holiday season always brings festive concerts and annual events that people look forward to like Festival of Trees.
Erin: If you’re into blues rock, Kenny Wayne Shepherd’s concert on Friday, November 16 will be a great show. His hit, “Blue on Black” is definitely catchy!
Samantha: Thanks so much for sharing, I will have to look up that song!
Want more #MyDowntownRochMN stories? Check out the links below.
Disclaimer: the views, comments, and opinions located within this blog are those of the community individual, not those of the Rochester Downtown Alliance (RDA).