2003 - 2004
December 5, 2003
Coliseum board yields power to Brown
Members say the group already turned over much of its power to the coliseum director
BY MATT WILLIAMS
GREENSBORO - The board charged with overseeing the Greensboro Coliseum complex voted Thursday to turn over many of its responsibilities to Managing Director Man Brown.
Members of the War Memorial Commission, a volunteer board appointed by the City Council, said the changes merely reflect what has been the group's unstated practice since Brown was hired to run the coliseum in 1994.
Commission Chairman Dick Grubar said the changes have been in the works for several months and are not the result of an article published Thursday in the News & Record about the group's role.
"This has taken a while, but I think it better reflects what we do," Grubar said.
The commission unanimously recommended that the City Council change the ordinance that outlines the group's duties. The ordinance says the group shall "make rules and regulations for the use of the Greensboro War Memorial, including fees for its use ..."
If the changes are approved by the council, the group will merely advise the coliseum director on those regulations.
The commission also voted to change its own rules to reflect the lesser role.
Although the commission has historically played a bigger role in setting policy for the coliseum, it has taken a back seat since Brown was hired. Before Thursday, the group hadn't voted on an issue in more than a year other than to approve the minutes from a previous meeting.
Commission member Harrison Turner said the complex job of running a facility like the coliseum means that Brown should not have to get approval from a volunteer group that meets once a month.
"You've got to let a strong managing director make bold decisions," Turner said.
Brown said he appreciated the commission's work and enjoyed getting feedback from its members on policy changes and financial matters.
Last week, Brown said he wouldn't have taken the job in 1994 unless he was given broad authority to run the coliseum without undue interference from an advisory board.
In 2001, an outside auditor hired by the city to examine the coliseum's operations concluded that the commission wasn't carrying out all of its responsibilities.
The report suggested that the group either take a more active role in setting policies or be dissolved.
"Currently facility management assumes many of the roles originally designated to the commission," the report concluded. "Consequently, the Commission has limited opportunity to influence facility operations."
Grubar said the commission did serve an important role as a sounding board for Brown and to promote the coliseum and its events.
Unlike arenas in Raleigh and Charlotte that are managed by independent authorities, Grubar said the City Council gave much of that responsibility to Brown.
Commission member Kevin Green said though the commission will no longer set rules for the complex, any major decisions will ultimately come before the City Council.
Councilwoman Sandy Carmany, who serves as a liaison to the commission, said she supports the ordinance change and expects the rest of the council would agree.
Several commission members said they are displeased with recent media coverage and want to emphasize more positive aspects of the coliseum.
The economic activity generated by myriad events is often overlooked in discussions about the complex, they said. "It adds a lot to our community," Grubar said.
The commission also voted Thursday to re-elect Grubar as its chairman for the coming year. Charlotte Dumenich was elected vice chairwoman.
Contact Matt Williams at 373-7004 or email@example.com