Cal U. terminates convocation center management contract

VenuWorks contract terminated

August 26, 2013
The exterior of the California University of Pennsylvania convocation center - Jim McNutt / Observer-Reporter Order a Print

California University of Pennsylvania will terminate its contract in November with the firm it hired to manage the school’s new convocation center because it can no longer afford the cost.

The university will pay the $10,416 basic monthly fee through Nov. 30 to Iowa-based VenuWorks. It also will pay $44,000 to cover severance packages to two of VenuWorks’ management-level employees and for terminating the contract early, Cal U. announced Monday in a news release.

“As we examined our budget for the 2013-14 fiscal year, it became clear that Cal U. could not afford to continue paying for VenuWorks’ professional services,” Cal U. interim President Geraldine M. Jones said.

The termination schedule permits the firm to produce the Nov. 5 performance by John Fogerty at the $59 million, 6,000-seat center.

“Naturally we are disappointed about the university’s decision, but we understand why it was made,” VenuWorks President Steven L. Peters said in the release.

Cal U. in September fired the executive director VenuWorks assigned to the university at a time when the school’s debts were increasing and enrollment was declining. Meanwhile, students at Cal U. have complained about the center offering concert acts that didn’t necessarily appeal to younger audiences.

Hired in 2012, VenuWorks has brought to the center Kenny Rogers, Bob Dylan, The Newsboys and the Original Harlem Globetrotters.

The university said it will maintain conference service operations and seek other revenue-generating opportunities for the center.

Cal U. spokeswoman Christine Kindl declined to say Monday whether expenses exceeded revenues at the convocation center during the last fiscal year. She said the university’s budget will be discussed at the faculty and staff convocation at 11 a.m. Thursday in Steele Hall.

The university said it had yet to determine the status of a concert in February that is to feature country music singer Justin Moore, the only other performance that has been announced at the convocation center.

The Sept. 19 Pittsburgh Diversity and Leadership Conference featuring Colin Powell will take place as scheduled, Kindl said.

Scott Beveridge is a North Charleroi native who has lived most of his life in nearby Rostraver Township. He is a general assignments reporter focusing on investigative journalism and writing stories about the mid-Mon Valley. He has a bachelor's degree from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a master's from Duquesne University. Scott spent three weeks in Vietnam in 2004 as a foreign correspondent under an International Center for Journalists fellowship.

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