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Oak View Group taps hospitality industry veteran Samuel R. Thomas, Jr. as the top executive at McCormick Place

CHICAGO (August 3, 2023) – Oak View Group [1], the newly named manager
of McCormick Place, today named veteran convention center and
hospitality executive Samuel R. Thomas, Jr. as Senior Vice President &
General Manager of the McCormick Place campus. Thomas, who will relocate
to Chicago from Washington, D.C. where he was Executive Vice President
and Chief Operating Officer of Events DC will begin his new role the
first week of September.

OVG360 and OVG Hospitality, divisions of global sports and entertainment
company Oak View Group was recently awarded the contracts for private
management and food & beverage services, respectively, on the McCormick
Place campus by a unanimous vote of the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition
Authority (MPEA) Board. The McCormick Place campus is just one of
several recent wins for OVG360 and OVG Hospitality, as the company was
also recently awarded the contract for venue management and food &
beverage services for the 19,000-seat BOK Center and the Cox Business
Convention Center in Tulsa, Okla.

With over three decades of experience in the hospitality industry,
Thomas will not only serve as the general manager for management, but
also, oversee all operations and services for the McCormick Place
Convention Center, the largest convention center in North America, the
10,000-seat Wintrust Arena and the 4,249-seat Arie Crown Theater.

“We will have one of the best operators in the industry managing one
of the most iconic convention centers in the world,” said Greg
O’Dell, president of venue management, OVG360. “With Samuel’s
extensive experience in leading both venue management and food &
beverage operations for several first-tier convention centers throughout
his career, there is no one better to execute our vision to optimize
McCormick Place and help the MPEA and its stakeholders solidify Chicago
as an ultimate destination for meeting planners and conventions. We are
so thrilled to welcome Samuel to our team.”

Ken Gaber, president of OVG Hospitality added: “Samuel is an industry
veteran who will not only provide valuable leadership to our day-to-day
operations but will also create a people-focused culture that will
inspire innovation and creative expression. Samuel is a welcome addition
to our team.”

At Events DC, Thomas managed daily operations for Washington, D.C.’s
convention and sports authority inclusive of the Walter E. Washington
Convention Center, the Entertainment & Sports Arena, RFK Stadium &
surrounding Festival Grounds, the DC Armory, and several communities
assets. His responsibilities included oversight of all aspects of
facility operations, event management, sales and marketing, public
safety, labor relations, organizational development, and other venue

Under Thomas’ leadership, the Walter E. Washington Convention Center
developed into one of the most-well regarded venues in the country and
was recognized with several national and international awards during his
tenure. In 2022, _Successful Meetings Magazine_ honored the convention
center with the prestigious Stella Award as “Best Convention Center”
in the country, and _Exhibitor Magazine _recognized the venue as one of
the top 30 Centers of Excellence in the last three years.

O’Dell and Thomas worked together at Events DC before O’Dell left
the company to join OVG360 in April 2022.

Thomas said, “This is an opportunity of a lifetime, and I’m excited
to join the first-class team at McCormick Place. We will partner with
MPEA continues to deliver a high level of customer service to our
clients and guests while finding innovative ways to elevate each event
experience. This is a people business, so I am elated to reunite with
Greg in addition to working with my new team members. I can’t wait to
get started.”

Prior to joining Events DC, Thomas held multiple sales and convention
management positions with Marriott Corporation. In addition, he served
as Regional Vice President and General Manager at Centerplate/NBSE for
the Walter E. Washington Convention Center as well as serving in several
executive leadership roles with the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center
in New Orleans, Pennsylvania Convention Center, and Greater Columbus
Convention Center for the Aramark Corporation.

Thomas earned a Bachelor of Science in business administration from the
University of Maryland University College.

# # #

About Oak View Group (OVG)
Oak View Group (OVG) is a global sports and entertainment company
founded by Tim Leiweke and Irving Azoff in 2015. OVG is focused on being
a positive disruption to business as usual in the sports, live
entertainment, and hospitality industries and currently has eight
divisions across five global offices (Los Angeles, New York, London,
Philadelphia, and Toronto). OVG oversees the operations of Climate
Pledge Arena at Seattle Center; UBS Arena in Belmont Park, NY; Moody
Center in Austin, TX; Acrisure Arena in Greater Palm Springs, CA; and
the newly opened CFG Bank Arena in Baltimore, MD; as well as the arena
development projects for Co-op Live in Manchester, UK; Anhembi Arena in
São Paulo, Brazil; FirstOntario Centre Arena in Hamilton, ON; a New
Arena and entertainment district in Las Vegas, NV; in Cardiff, Wales;
and Vienna, Austria. More information at [2], and
follow OVG on Facebook [3], Instagram [4], Twitter [5],
and LinkedIn [6].  

Samuel Thomas
Samuel Thomas Jr. - Senior Vice President & General Manager of the McCormick Place campus
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