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Government New public events director: Fort Worth prepares for convention center changes

New public events director: Fort Worth prepares for convention center changes

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Robert Francis
Robert Francis
Robert is a Fort Worth native and longtime editor of the Fort Worth Business Press. He is a former president of the local Society of Professional Journalists and was a freelancer for a variety of newspapers, weeklies and magazines, including American Way, BrandWeek and InformatonWeek. A graduate of TCU, Robert has held a variety of writing and editing positions at publications such as the Grand Prairie Daily News and InfoWorld. He is also a musician and playwright.

When Michael E. Crum begins his new job as director of the city of Fort Worth’s Public Events Department in February, he’ll have plenty on his plate.

On Dec. 3, the City of Fort Worth announced that Crum, currently vice president for business development and chief financial officer for the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority, would take up leadership of the city’s Public Events Department that oversees the operations of downtown’s Fort Worth Convention Center and the Cultural District’s Will Rogers Memorial Center.

The Will Rogers Center is getting some renewed attention courtesy of the recently opened Dickies Arena and the Fort Worth Convention Center is expected to get an overhaul now that the arena is up and running.

“Mike Crum brings an impressive résumé in facility management to Fort Worth,” Assistant City Manager Jay Chapa said. “As Fort Worth looks toward expanding and renovating its downtown convention center, we will rely on Crum’s experience in developing convention business and bringing new and exciting venues online.”

There’s talk of the straightening of Commerce Street, the demolition of the 50-year-old arena and creation of a new connection to the rest of downtown.

City staff recommended a phased approach to minimize business loss and impact on the area, during an April meeting on convention center plans.

The first phase of the projected changes would include the design and straightening of Commerce Street which currently makes a curve around the east side of the Convention Center.

That phase would also include a ballroom level kitchen and the demolition of the south annex and the north annex. Cost of that part of the project is estimated at $48 million with an annual debt service of around $3 million with a start date of 2022 and completion by 2024.

Work on the second phase would begin in 2024 and be complete by 2027 and would cost more than $328 million.

That phase would include taking down the storied arena, building the northern expansion and a strategic renovation of the existing building and site, according to the April report.

The private sector is also involved with additional hotels coming onboard in downtown, such as the recently opened The Sinclair, a Marriott Autograph Collection Hotel.

On the drawing board are plans for the historic W.T. Waggoner Building, at 810 Houston St., to become a new Sandman Signature Hotel – the second hotel of its kind in the United States. Sandman Signature is owned by Canada-based Northland Properties, owned by Tom Gaglardi, who also owns the Dallas Stars.

This project will add another full-service hotel to downtown Fort Worth just as the city is preparing to upgrade the Fort Worth Convention Center. Furthermore, the move aligns with the city’s Economic Development Plan.

Crum has experience with collaboration among public and private entities.

He was responsible for the efforts between the CRVA and its community partners, as well as overseeing the agency’s accounting budget, audit, information technology, strategic planning, research, business analysis, application delivery, security and risk management functions.

Crum went to Charlotte in 1989 as director of finance for the Auditorium-Coliseum-Convention Center Authority, and in 1997 was named the Authority’s managing director.

In this capacity, he was at the center of Charlotte’s efforts to retain the NBA Hornets and in 2002, helped negotiate the agreement that led to the development of Spectrum Center and the return of an NBA franchise to the market.

In 2004, Crum oversaw the merger of the Authority with Visit Charlotte, Charlotte’s convention and visitors’ bureau, to create the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority. He subsequently served as the CRVA’s chief operating officer until the reorganization of the CRVA’s management structure in 2012.

Prior to coming to Charlotte, Crum worked in the Facility Management Division of the Pacer Basketball Corp. in Indianapolis from 1987-1989.

During his tenure in Charlotte, Crum was involved with national events like the 1994 NCAA Men’s Final Four, 1996 Women’s Final Four, 1991 and 2019 NBA All-Star Games, 2012 Democratic National Convention and 2020 Republican National Convention.

He also participated in the development of the Charlotte Convention Center, NASCAR Hall of Fame, and renovations of Bojangles’ Coliseum and Ovens Auditorium.

Crum holds a master’s degree in sports administration from Ohio University and a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

He has served on the boards of directors for the Charlotte Regional Partnership, Charlotte Sports Foundation and Champions for Education, the organization that oversees the operation of the Wells Fargo Championship.

He is a member of the International Association of Venue Managers and Charlotte Rotary.

The City of Fort Worth’s Public Events Department oversees the operations of downtown’s Fort Worth Convention Center and the Cultural District’s Will Rogers Memorial Center.

Crum and his wife Kelly have three sons.

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