Faces of the Final Four
Senior Vice President, Guest Experience & Blue Ribbon Service | Tampa Bay Sports & Entertainment – Amalie Arena & Tampa Bay Lightning
1. You are currently involved in your third Women’s Final Four as a member of the Local Organizing Committee and you’ve also attended many events as a fan — what are some of the things you’ve learned from previous Women’s Final Four events that you will bring to this year’s efforts?
We have some amazing loyal fans for the Bolts that I have watched develop over the last 20 years. If there is one thing I have learned from the last 2 Women’s Final Four events we have hosted, it is that Women’s basketball fans are loyal and very passionate. Every team and every fan that has come to Tampa for this event wants a complete experience within the city they visit and we strive to provide that to them, inside and outside our building.
3. Amalie Arena has undergone a list of improvements since the Women’s Final Four was last here in 2015. What are some of the things that fans can expect when visiting the venue in 2019?
We have recently renovated our Club level and added some improved food and beverage options that have locally inspired menus from some of Tampa’s favorite restaurants. On top of that, we have also installed a new LED Lighting. It is being used for the first time in our building and promises to improve the arena experience for the athletes, fans, and broadcasters.
4. The downtown area, especially immediately surrounding the Arena, is currently undergoing a dramatic evolution. Name 3 can’t miss things that you think visitors must experience.
There have been so many exciting new additions to the downtown area. The Tampa Bay Riverwalk connects so many other of my favorites spots! On the north end, you have the Sail Pavilion where you can rent a water bike, jump on the Pirate Water Taxi or see Tampa Bay’s scenic skyline from an eboat. The newest addition to our downtown is Sparkman Wharf, the brand new outdoor waterfront destination. Situated along the Garrison Channel it celebrates the best of Tampa, great weather, waterfront views, music, craft beer, and exceptional dining!
5. Amalie Arena has long been recognized for being environmentally conscious, due in large part to your passionate leadership. Why do you feel it's equally important for visiting events to undertake sustainability efforts?
The arena has implemented various sustainability initiatives over the last few years, including a large-scale recycling program, different ways to conserve water and energy in the arena and most recently the addition of a hydroponic garden. The EzGro Garden at Amalie Arena will be featured during the Women’s Final Four All-Access Tourney Journey, which provides locally and sustainably grown produce for concessions. Additionally, the committee will be purchasing carbon offsets to and diverting waste through a robust recycling program as part of the process. We have tried to set the stage for green initiatives at stadiums, arenas and other public spaces around the globe. We all live on this planet, let’s protect it. It truly does take an effort from everyone.
6. The 2019 Women’s Final Four will aim to be certified by the Council for Responsible Sport. Explain to us what that means and some of the initiatives that we will see incorporated at the events.
This will be the first sporting event in the Tampa Bay area to be formally recognized by the Council for its environmental and social responsibility. As part of the pursuit for Evergreen Certification (the highest level available from the Council for Responsible Sport), Amalie Arena will be responsible for reducing waste, water, and energy use throughout the championship weekend. It gives us a scorecard and allows us to see the impact of our collective efforts. We want to raise the bar so for other cities to duplicate. By partnering with key community partners, this initiative will bring awareness to key sustainability issues in our area in what is truly a group effort to showcase our green championship campus and inspire future events.
7. You’re a former college coach. How does that influence your role as Vice President of Guest Experience at Amalie Arena?
Creating memories for fans and visitors is what I strive to do every day. To be able to create memories for these women athletes is so special. I know first hand how important these memories will be for these athletes that have worked so hard to get to Championship weekend.
8. What is your most memorable women’s college basketball experience?
It was so much fun watching the University of Tennessee cut down the net after winning in our building in 2008. After the team was done and had left the floor an employee of mine pointed out that they had left about a 2-inch piece of the net behind that was still attached to the rim. He climbed up a ladder, pulled that piece of net down and gave it to me. This man was an usher that could have kept it for himself as a memory, but he knew how hard I had worked on the tournament and felt I should have it.