Venue Solutions Group is dedicated to continually improving facility performance through direct experience, benchmarking and the use of industry “BEST PRACTICES.” We take pride in being recognized as industry leaders in the programming, planning, preparation and performance of public assembly facilities worldwide.
The firm was launched in 2011 by three industry professionals bringing over sixty-five years of collective experience in the management and operations of public assembly facilities. Their history involves direct management of a variety of facility types, working closely with municipalities, professional sports organizations, universities, and private firms. The expertise of these individuals includes venue operations and engineering, security/safety, guest services, sustainability, and administration. The VSG Partners are active with the International Association of Venue Managers, Stadium Managers Association, TEAM Coalition, and The National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security. Click here for our firm profile.
Russ Simons, Managing Partner
Over the past three decades, Russ Simons has been involved in nearly every facet of the sports facility industry, from design and construction to safety and security, marketing, public relations and operations. In his past role as a senior principal at Populous, Russ directed that firm’s facility operations, evaluation and analysis efforts. He has worked with operators at every level from collegiate to every professional league. His work went hand-in-hand with the firm’s architects to create facilities designed to be safe, efficient, revenue positive and sustainable. The wide variety of clients he has served includes the Orlando Magic, San Diego Padres, the Cajundome, Pittsburgh Steelers, Nashville Predators, Keeneland Equestrian Facility, Major League Soccer and the University of Oklahoma.
Prior to joining Populous, Russ was a senior vice president for Leisure Management International and general manager of Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, home to the Nashville Predators. Russ received his bachelor’s degree in sports marketing from the University of Connecticut. He also graduated from the International Association of Assembly Managers’ (IAAM) Venue Managers School and is the immediate past chair of the school’s board of regents.
He was presented the 2009 Ray W. Ward Award from the Venue Managers School’s board of regents in recognition of his service to the school. He is a member of International Association of Venue Managers and serves on its Life Safety Council. Russ is a past instructor for the Academy of Venue Safety and Security and serves on the editorial board for Facility Manager magazine. In 2004, he was honored with the GIGI Award of Excellence from the Event and Arena Marketing Conference and was inducted into that organization’s Hall of Fame. He is on the board of advisors for the Center for Spectator Sports Security Management and he is a member of both the International Facilities Management Association and the Stadium Managers Association.
Russ is also a past recipient of the Pollstar Facility Manager of the Year.
Mike Wooley, LEED AP
Mike Wooley is a proven veteran in the public assembly facility industry. Throughout his career, Mike has focused on operations, engineering and financial management. Mike uses his hands-on experience to lead the VSG team in over 40 facility condition assessments for a wide variety of facility types including Cleveland Browns Stadium, PNC Arena in Raleigh, NC, Oriole Park at Camden Yards and M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, MD, Giant Center in Hershey, PA, Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio and multiple athletic facilities at the University of Oklahoma and Northwestern University. He has also lead operational reviews at the University of California Berkeley and Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, NC.
Recently, Mike assisted Baylor University on the operations and development of their new on-campus stadium, McLane Stadium. He has also assisted the University of Nebraska-Omaha on the development of their under construction 7,500 seat arena. Mike assisted the City of Orlando and the Orlando Magic in support of the opening of the Amway Center.
Prior to starting VSG with his business partners, Mike was a Principal for global design firm Populous and also served in increasingly senior roles at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee, from event coordinator to assistant GM to interim GM of the facility. He is founding member of IAVM’s sustainability task force and is a LEED Accredited Professional.
Tom Williams, LEED AP
Prior to creating Venue Solutions Group with Russ and Mike, Tom spent 14 years in the public assembly facility industry followed by four years as a facility operations consultant for the Nashville office of the global design firm Populous. His experience includes a series of progressive positions at the former Pyramid Arena in Memphis, Palm Springs Convention Center, Bridgestone Arena, the corporate office of Leisure Management International, and as the General Manager of the CenturyLink Center in Bossier City, Louisiana. At VSG, in addition to directly managing and assisting on a variety of client projects, Tom also manages the daily operations of the firm as relates to insurance, legal, marketing, IT, and finance.
During his career Williams has directly managed staff involved in event coordination, risk management, operations, booking, marketing, guest services and security. He has been involved with numerous facility grand opening teams, and has filled interim positions with a variety of buildings, in addition to his own permanent roles. With VSG, his recent projects include executing a large guest experience program across multiple facilities for a contract management firm, conducting a facility condition assessment of the Knoxville (TN) Civic Auditorium and Coliseum, and performing a financial and operational review of Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln, NE. A LEED Accredited Professional, Williams is a graduate of Tulane University (B.S.) and Centenary College (MBA), and is a member of the International Association of Venue Managers, where he is a past Chair of the organization’s Sustainability Committee.