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Sanford Center introduces new interim executive director

BEMDIJI – The Sanford Center’s new interim executive director, David Ross, was introduced during an advisory board meeting Monday morning.

Ross has worked in the facility management industry for 27 years, with most of that time spent as director emeritus of the Show Me Center in Cape Girardeau on the campus of Southeast Missouri State University. Ross was there since the center was built in 1987.

The Show Me Center seats up to 7,600, while the Sanford Center seats about 4,700 during hockey games and 6,000 during concerts.

Ross was also president of the International Association of Venue Managers from 2005 to 2006.

Ross announced in February that he was retiring from his post at the Show Me Center at the end of May. Tammy Koolbeck, vice president of venue services for VenuWorks, said in an email that Ross is a contract employee for VenuWorks and is not being considered for the permanent position.

Ross said during the Monday meeting that his role is to provide perspective to staff while looking for potential improvements in operations. He also said he would be “working the phones” for events.

“Just by human nature, you want to take a look at operations,” Ross said.

Ross said he spent time at the Bemidji State University hockey games over the weekend to observe how things work. Overall, he said, there were no red flags in operations.

“The facility is nice, it’s extremely clean,” he said during the meeting.

Ross comes in at a time that VenuWorks, the company that the city has contracted to operate the Sanford Center, is looking for someone to fill in the role permanently. City manager John Chattin wrote in the city’s weekly newsletter last week that the interim executive director would be here for four to six weeks.

One candidate for the permanent job was interviewed Oct. 12 and more candidates will be interviewed in the coming weeks. Andy Long, VenuWorks’ vice president of events and entertainment, said last week there’s no set timetable for the new director to take over. 

John Hageman

John Hageman covers North Dakota politics from the Forum News Service bureau in Bismarck. He attended the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities, where he studied journalism and political science, and he previously worked at the Grand Forks Herald and Bemidji Pioneer.  

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