SOUTH BEND — The private firm contracted by the city to run Century Center is seeking a new general manager for the facility.
Kurt Brown resigned Wednesday as general manager, confirmed John Page, chief operating officer for Global Spectrum, the Philadelphia-based company that manages Century Center.
Page said Brown decided to leave after the company had a "number of different discussions with Kurt relative to the direction of the conference center."
Page declined to comment on those discussions.
Reached today at his Granger home, Brown also declined comment.
When making its pitch to the city to operate Century Center in late 2006, Global Spectrum officials said they could bring in convention business from other facilities it manages around the country.
But in a 2009 report, several board members told The Tribune they had been disappointed that those new events never materialized.
Page today acknowledged that Century Center’s revenues have been down in recent years, compared to when the city ran the facility before 2007. He attributed the decline to the recession.
Mayor Stephen Luecke said he agrees the recession has been largely to blame.
"It’s been a difficult time," Luecke said. "I think everybody is disappointed that the level of activity is down. I think Global Spectrum has done a good job managing its budget."
Page said the company has offset those slumping revenues by cutting costs.
Several employees whose jobs have been eliminated have filed discrimination complaints against Century Center with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. At a recent board meeting, Brown asked the city to pay the attorney costs to defend against those complaints, but Luecke refused, saying it’s a cost that Global Spectrum should pay.
Luecke said he has sent Global Spectrum a letter stating the city doesn’t believe it should pay the cost, and the company has replied with a letter maintaining that it thinks the costs are owed by the city.
"We’ll work through it and see if we can come to an agreement," Luecke said.
Matt Rose, head of sales and marketing at Century Center, will serve as interim general manager until Global Spectrum hires someone permanently for the position, Page said.
Carmen Piasecki, president of the Century Center Board of Managers, said she believes the city’s contract with Global Spectrum gives the board some say in selecting the general manager, including interviewing applicants.
"We can approve or disapprove the candidate," Piasecki said. "We’ll be working with them to make that selection."
Page said he wasn’t certain whether the contract speaks to the board’s level of involvement in the general manager hiring process, but Global Spectrum will abide by whatever the contract says in that regard.
Piasecki said she remains excited and confident about Century Center’s future.
"(Brown) did a lot of good things to get that building refurbished and renovated," she said. "We’ve got a lot of good things going."