Summer Fun in Erie

by Sandra Olsen, Sales Manager

Welcome to SUMMER!  As you may have heard, Erie had one of the snowiest seasons on record in 2017!  On December 24th & 25th we broke a record for the largest two-day snowfall with 53” of snow falling.  Maybe not something to be overly excited about, but if you live in Erie, you sure learn how to drive in the snow!

And, if you live in Erie, you live for the summer!  It is said that Erie has the 2nd most beautiful sunsets of anywhere in the world.  While we are fortunate enough to experience all four seasons (sometimes in just one day!) summer is really where it is at for Erie.  It seems like there is always something going on every day of the week.

  • Mondays – there is Buck Night at the SeaWolves with $.25 cent draft night at the Plymouth
  • Tuesdays – 8 Great Tuesdays at the Amphitheater
  • Wednesdays – Sunset Music Concert Series on Presque Isle State Park
  • Thursdays – Block Parties downtown
  • The weekends are all about the Festivals! (Just to name a few!)
    • June – Food Truck Festival and the Poker Run
    • July – Greek Festival and Roar on the Shore
    • August – Jazz Festival and Celebrate Erie
  • Don’t forget live horse racing From Mid-May through Early October. Racing is live Monday – Thursday and from June on Sundays as well.

We are lucky to have Presque Isle State Park right in our backyard.  With 13 miles of beaches and so many other activities going on there you should never be bored in the summer in Erie.  If you are more of a thrill seeker, season passes to Waldameer Amusement Park are a must!

I feel like I could go on for days talking about summer in Erie!  There is truly something for everyone.  With the Erie Art Museum, the Erie Zoo, Brig Niagara and Maritime Museum, Asbury Woods Nature Center, Bicentennial Tower, and the Tom Ridge Environmental Center you can see that Erie offers a diverse selection of things to do! And, of course, we have plenty going on here at the Bayfront Convention Center! Feel free to take time on a nice sunny day to check us out!

A Day In the Life of Our Groundskeeper

IMG_0033by Brandon Schanz, Head Groundskeeper

A picture of an employee gathering for employees who had been with Erie Events for 10 years hangs from a wall in my office. My 20-year plaque from the Erie SeaWolves is to its right on the other side of the wall. My walls say it all: I’ve been here ever since UPMC Park, then Jerry Uht Park, was built.


One clarification before we begin: saying “the walls in my office” is a bit of a misnomer. It’s really more of a shed behind centerfield, and I also have quarters in Erie Insurance Arena. If I had to actually pick an “office” for myself, it would probably be the field itself.

I wasn’t always in grounds keeping. I came out of high school in the summer of 1995 working in the kitchen area. By the end of the first season, I became assistant director of concessions at the age of 18. I worked there until 1998. I knew the groundkeeper at the time and he convinced me to join his staff in 1999. After my second year in that department, I became his main assistant and worked at the Warner Theatre in the winter. From there, I took over as head groundskeeper in 2004.

There’s hard days, certainly, but I wouldn’t have been here so long if I didn’t like it. The people I’ve met, the players I work with – it’s not too shabby. If you’re curious, Curtis Granderson was one of the nicest players and Matt Walbeck (who managed in 2007) was one of my favorite managers. One of my all-time favorite players was Josh Rainwater, a pitcher who played from 2008-2010.


Always working with the team to ensure we’ve got it all right.

Before the team plays, my team is in charge of getting the field ready for them. We have a total staff of 17. There’s me, my assistant (full-time seasonal) and other part-time staff. Most have been around for over two years – their longevity in the job really helps us get a lot done efficiently.

Walking you through a typical day is difficult, but here’s this for starters: our day often starts at 8 a.m. and doesn’t end until an hour after the conclusion of the game. Yeah. We put in some long hours.

Cutting the grass once usually takes an hour of time. If we’re doing a new pattern, it can take up to five hours. It’s always fun thinking up new designs and doing things that haven’t been done. I don’t usually have a design in mind, though – I usually just get on the mower and see how I’m feeling.

My assistant usually works on the mounds and after that, the infields are taken care of and the dugouts are cleaned. We try to edge once every other homestand and we’ll sometimes do resodding if there’s a bad spot on the field. The field is fertilized every two weeks and once a month we aerate the field.

It’s all time consuming.


The staff does work throughout the day to get the Park ready.

Time is of the essence here, as we have to get things done before batting practice. Our ability to get things done is especially hard when there are also events that aren’t SeaWolves games. We have over 30 extra events this year, including several high school baseball games. They put wear on the grass and field, but most importantly, they cut into our time to get work done. We love kids’ camps and block parties and concerts, but they do bring about extra challenges for our job.

During the game, we’re working, too. We’re doing touch-ups throughout the game, and on bad weather days, we’re keeping the umpires up to date. I also keep in touch with Tom Atkins at WJET about what he’s seeing on radar. It’s usually my decision on whether to put the tarp out – you want the tarp to be placed just before bad weather comes, not as it’s already happening.

Rain days are the hardest, as removing water fast is difficult. But I’ve been here so long that all the issues we have start to repeat themselves and I know how to handle them. After all, I have been here since the park’s inception; I’ll be sure to have the Park ready to go day in and day out.

A New Look on the Bayfront

by Gus Pine, General Manager of the Bayfront Convention Center

In the summer of 2016, Erie Events opened up the Courtyard Erie Bayfront Hotel, starting a new chapter for us on the Bayfront.

That’s because the addition of the Courtyard Erie Bayfront Hotel, along with the existing Sheraton Erie Bayfront Hotel solidified us as major players in the convention business. With the beautiful Bayfront Convention Center and now over 400 connected hotel rooms, we added some key elements that meeting planners were looking for.

The completion of the Courtyard proved to be the genesis of our next step. As general manager of the Bayfront Convention Center, my job is not just to think about the day-to-day operations, but also to think long-term and how we shape our future growth and direction. A key question quickly emerged. We have the Bayfront Convention Center, the Sheraton and the Courtyard – but how do we pitch them? Do we list them all out, are they separate entities? Essentially, how do we best market our resources to others in a clear, yet concise, package?

The answer was found in the creation of a collective brand. The team at Erie Events has been working with Tungsten Creative Group, a marketing organization based right here in Erie, to take our three facilities and marry them with one collective message. Now, of course, when needed we are our own brand, but when pitched as a unit to potential conventions, we will now be on the same page under one umbrella. Through our overall brand, our potential customers will truly see all that we have to offer.

I’m 100 percent convinced this will help us secure more conventions.

We have a fantastic location. It’s like a convention resort down here at the Bayfront. If you haven’t been down, stop by and see our facilities. Everything overlooks the bay, and that’s a great way to get work done.

We’ve got a great story here – we just need a vehicle to do it. Our new branding efforts, which we’ll begin unveiling in August as part of a major marketing initiative, will do just that.

We’ll also be looking to tie-in our future development in the area, including that at the former GAF site, now known as Bayfront Place. We could see the development of entertainment options, restaurants, or residential housing available at the site. We aspire to be a place where locals and travelers can mingle, and the more we have going on down here, the quicker we will reach that goal.

One of the key elements to a thriving city is the reliance on the dollars of outsiders. We can trade dollars as locals, but when travelers come in and bring in additional demand, it brings the city to another level. That’s what we’re looking to do, and we’re excited to continue the process this summer.

Off-Season at Arena Welcome, But Not a Complete Break

By Ray Williams, Director of Sports Facilities

Just like in a sports league, here at the Erie Insurance Arena we have an off-season, too.

This time of year is a time of rest and recuperation for the staff and for the building. While we certainly enjoy the Otters and BayHawks, switching between ice and basketball courts and making sure all runs smoothly can be a taxing endeavor.

That said, when we say off-season, it doesn’t mean the work stops completely — we’re not lounging around outside of the Arena laying in a hammock sunbathing! It only means we have less event activity and can dedicate more time to take stock of what needs repaired, what needs replaced, and how we can make positive changes for our patrons.

We’re almost halfway through our off-season and as we look toward the rest of the summer and then the fall, we have about three more months before the Otters training camp begins and another exciting season can commence. We have a lot of work to do between now and then, and we look forward to welcoming our fans back to the Arena on a consistent basis when hockey starts!


Local Teams’ Futures Offer Excitement At Erie Events

by Brandon Boyd, Coordinator of Communications

We’ve been blessed to see great athletes pass through Erie Insurance Arena and UPMC Park throughout the years.

For the Erie Otters, it’s been NHL MVP Connor McDavid, Dylan Strome, Alex DeBrincat, Andre Burakovsky (about to participate in the Stanley Cup this year), Mike Rupp and Brad Boyes.

For the SeaWolves, we’ve seen Cy Young winner Justin Verlander, Curtis Granderson, Michael Fulmer, Omar Infante, and plenty of other Detroit Tigers starters through the years.

The BayHawks have offered Jeremy Lin, Seth Curry, Danny Green and others who have seen significant NBA playing time.

Here in Erie, we get to consistently see the future of professional sports. It’s a unique honor that proves to be a lot of fun time and time again.

At Erie Events, we’ll be honoring a few of our past athletes in a way that can be seen by many — but we’ll talk about that later.

With all the past athletes we’ve seen come through our city, it’s only a matter time before the next greats come through. Some of them are already in our midst. Let’s have a look:


Erie SeaWolves: If you haven’t caught a game, you’re missing out! With plenty of promotions on game days and top players in the Detroit Tigers minor league system, a day at UPMC Park is one that will highlight your summer.

There are several players to look out for on the team. Beau Burrows, pitcher, has posted a strong season for the SeaWolves. As the Tigers #4 ranked prospect, has a 2.61 ERA and has shined as a starter thus far.

Pitcher Kyle Funkhouser is a top-ranked Tigers prospect as well, and though his 0-3 record might not show it, he has a lot of promise as a player. Second baseman Will Maddox is currently batting .382 and while he’s not ranked highly in the Detroit Tigers system, he’s playing high-quality baseball that will quickly get him noticed.

The future of the SeaWolves looks bright, too, as three top-100 MLB prospects could see time in Erie. Pitcher Franklin Perez, obtained in the Tigers’ Justin Verlander trade, was to be playing for the SeaWolves before an injury. When healed, he should see time in Erie and will likely wind up a future pro. Pitchers Matt Manning and Alex Faedo, currently in lower level baseball, will possibly see their baseball futures wind up in Erie as well. The Tigers and Toledo Mud Huns (AAA) roster boasts plenty of former SeaWolves, and this year’s roster will prove to be similarly fruitful for the Tigers organization.


Erie Otters: The benefit to a less-than-ideal season is a high draft pick. The Otters drafted fourth in this year’s OHL Priority Selection Draft and took defenseman Jamie Drysdale. Drysdale is a well-spoken, affable athlete whose on-ice demeanor is just as impressive as when off the ice. Drysdale led his team to a GTHL Championship and was named the GTHL’s Player of the Year.

2017 first round CHL Import pick Stephane Patry represented Switzerland at the 2018 IIHF World Under-18 Hockey Championship, and in addition to Drysdale, four Erie Otters prospects were selected to participate in the OHL’s Gold Cup, an annual showcase event.

Names to watch on this year’s Erie Otters team include Hayden Fowler, a 2017 first rounder acquired from Sault St. Marie, and Emmett Sproule, 2017’s first round pick. The Otters quickly expected to start succeeding again and relive the magic of the past few years.

Erie BayHawks: As the G-League affiliate of the Atlanta Hawks, the BayHawks are primed to see a few promising players on the team. The Hawks currently have three first-round picks (#3, #19, and #30) as well as pick #33 in the second round of the NBA Draft. The Hawks are a young, rebuilding team, and it’s likely that at least one, if not more, of their picks ends up playing for the BayHawks. The future roster of the BayHawks will likely clear up a bit after the NBA Draft.

The BayHawks will likely be returning some members of last year’s playoff team. It remains to be seen who might stick with the Hawks next season, but the success of the BayHawks should remain next season.

All told, just as the past, the future of sports in Erie is bright with plenty of young athletes ready to start telling the stories of their successful careers. You just might want to come read them while you can.

Ticket Delivery Options 101

by Ann Noble, Box Office Manager

When purchasing tickets for events, there are several options you can choose to receive you tickets.

  • If you are purchasing tickets in person at the Erie Insurance Arena, you will receive your tickets in hand.
  • Tickets can be purchased by calling the box office at (814) 452-4857. Most often tickets are mailed out the same day as they are purchased. They are mailed to the address provided by the purchaser.
  • If your purchase is made within 7 days of the event, your tickets will be held at Will Call, and you will be instructed to pick them up with your ID.
  • If you purchase online at you have a few options. You can choose to have them mailed out, or left at Will Call. You can also opt to use the “Print At Home” option. If you choose this delivery, you will receive an email confirming your order, and in the body of the email there will be a hyperlink that reads “click here to print your tickets.”

Now this topic could be a blog all by itself! Please check your surroundings to make sure that you do, indeed, have a printer, and if you do…please make sure it has ink and is capable of printing in more than a microscopic font. “Print At Home” does not mean bring your phone with you and show us your tickets on said device…although in some instances, we can scan the bar-code if you enlarge the screen and have the brightness turned up.

In all seriousness, though, if you do have an issue printing your tickets you can call the box office at any time and we will be glad to help you.

Brantley Gilbert Concert

Here’s the “Need to Know” on our Brantley Gilbert concert on Saturday, May 12:

  • Doors open at 5:30.
  • VIP Doors are at 5.
  • Our parking garage opens at 5:30 p.m. It’s located right by the Erie Insurance Arena and it costs $5 (cash only) to park. Handicap parking is available in the garage and around the arena.
  • NOTE: All patrons MUST GO THROUGH METAL DETECTORS. When going through metal detectors, please remove your phone, keys, electronic devices and large metal objects. You do NOT have to remove belts, coins, wallets, jewelry or watches.
  • Bags and purses are subject to additional check. WE DO NOT RECOMMEND YOU BRING A BAG OR PURSE. This will slow down lines as well.
  • Cameras are allowed as long as they aren’t professional-style ones with attached lenses.
  • There is food for sale here as well as beverages! As for the temperature of the arena, it’s comfortable but may depend on personal preference. If you run hot, dress light. If you run cold, maybe bring a jacket just in case you need it.

Additional questions? Just ask!

What’s the Latest at the Warner?

by Barry Copple, Operations Manager

Hello, Erie!

Another year has come and gone, and what a winter we had! Typically, we don’t do very many concerts in the summer, so there’s not a lot to report on the concert scene at this time. However, that doesn’t mean we aren’t busy here at the Theatre. The month of June is extremely busy with our local dance companies such as Little’s, Long’s, Marguerite’s, and Spotlight Dance Studios. With graduations, wedding receptions, dance rehearsals and load-in days all happening as well, June generates 19 event days. Busy, busy!

Something new to the Theatre this past year was the addition of sippy cups. I know what you’re thinking — sippy cups? — but hear me out. While we don’t allow food or drinks in our auditorium, you can purchase the Warner Theatre cup for $3. After purchase, you can bring it to the Theatre for most shows and refill it for the cost of the drink only. You’ll be able to use it again and again for just the cost of the drink. Not bad! This has been a great success for us and for our patrons, making it more convenient for all involved. Next time you’re here, ask one of our servers about it.

Before I go, I’ll leave you with a little history lesson about the Warner Theatre. It was built by the Warner Brothers (yes, THOSE Warner Brothers) and opened in April 1931 at a cost of $1.5 million. Other than a few weeks during ownership changes, the Theatre has been in constant operation. I have had the privilege of giving tours of our Theatre to many artists and their staff from around the world, and I get the same response over and over: “This is one of the most beautiful theatres I have ever seen.” That means a lot not just to me, but to this community. Erie, we have our problems, sure, but there is so much to be proud of. I consider it an honor and love being the caretaker of this magnificent treasure.

So get up and go, Erie! Have a great summer.

We’ll talk again. Until next time!



Work, Life, and What I’ve Learned

by Lisa Di Luzio, Director of Marketing and Sales

Each morning, I wake up, say goodbye to my husband, and then I head home and see my family.

No, I’m not living some sort of double life. I’ve been the Director of Marketing & Sales here at Erie Events for five years now, and for me, the Bayfront Convention Center feels like home, and the people I work with feel like family.

It’s truly a pleasure being here. You’re surrounded by a lot of great people. Here at the Bayfront Convention Center and at our other Erie Events locations, we have some of the best employees the area has to offer. In my years here and in my 23 years at the Bel-Air, I’ve learned a few things about work, relationships at work, and life in general that I would like to share. I don’t think I know it all, but I’ve certainly been through a lot!

Be Comfortable with the Uncomfortable – No two weeks, two days, or even two minutes are the same at the Bayfront Convention Center. We consistently have meetings, conferences, conventions, dinners and other events that our team is involved in. The staff has to be comfortable with the uncomfortable and be open to change. Our constant is change, and especially when we have multiple events, we have to leave our comfort zones. That might mean assisting with set up, tear down, being out on the floor, and more.

During my time at the Bel-Air, I had a moment where I didn’t want to accept change. A superior had me read “Who Moved My Cheese? An Amazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and in Your Life” by Dr. Spencer Johnson and it changed my outlook on change. I highly recommend the book!

Even within our staff we’ve had to be comfortable with change. Since January 1, I’ve re-transitioned an employee, developed others, and hired a new event coordinator. Through all of it, our staff has been amazing.

Respect Your Employees and Build a Relationship – As I mentioned earlier, my Bayfront Convention Center family feels like family just as much as my real family. But it doesn’t become like that overnight. There’s a few elements that go into it. The people I work with here mean the world to me. We have a close relationship, but the respect is also good. I set the tone right out of the gate with an open-door policy. I don’t do drama – if there’s a problem, I’m here to talk. I’m of the mindset that you go right to the top with problems. But when you come with a problem, also come with a solution. It’s easy to have an issue, but it’s more productive to also have an idea of how to solve it.

We have an open and communal area, so good, bad, and otherwise, it’s all out there! When something happens, good or bad, we make sure to let it be known and use it in the future. As an example, we had Kwik Fill come in for a convention last week. It was a home run and the client described it as “perfect.” So when Country Fair came in this week, we were able to use that as an example and have a blueprint for how to provide them with their own “perfect” experience.

My management style has been to let my employees do their job. It sounds simple, and it is when done right. That means no micromanaging. I empower everyone to make choice and do their job, though it all comes across my desk eventually.

In the end, everyone who knows me knows I’m a “kumbaya” type of person. I’m high energy, I get excited about my work, and as I’ve been told, I always have that patented Lisa smile on. We all work hard to respect each other and have an open work environment. We spend so much time here, you better darn well get along!

Appreciate Your Clientele and Build Relationships – The common denominator we all have here is doing what’s right by our building and by the client.  We have a clientele that we’re blessed with. It’s awesome to walk in and out of here each day knowing that you were able to provide an experience for everyone who came in.

When we have weddings, galas, conventions – that’s when we network and build relationships. Our location and our building help us to sell, certainly, but our relationships with people are what makes the difference. It’s one thing to have someone fill out a survey and give us a high rating – it’s another to have them come back again and again or recommend us to others. It’s the “show, don’t tell” of event coordinating. The biggest compliment we can get is when our clients come back.

There are so many times you leave here and you can hold your head high – even if you can’t do much else because you’re physically exhausted from a long day. I am so, so lucky to have the job I have and be able to work with the people I do. I’m often the last to leave, and usually it’s dark and I’m always parked far away to keep close spots available for our guests. It gives me time to reflect as I’m walking back to my car, and only one word comes to mind at the end of my day: Wow.