Beekman Hired As Arena’s New GM

WILKES-BARRE TWP. — Will Beekman, who led the F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts to a new level of prominence the past four years, will start work next week as the new general manager of Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza.

Beekman, 41, had been executive director of the Kirby Center, in Wilkes-Barre, since Jan. 1, 2015. During that time, the venue attracted top acts such as Jerry Seinfeld and cracked the Pollstar list of the 100 top theaters world-wide, based on ticket sales.

On Wednesday, the Luzerne County Convention Center Authority announced that Beekman will replace former general manager Brian Sipe, who resigned last month to take a job in Kentucky.

Beekman will work for SMG, a venue management firm which manages the day-to-day operations of the multi-purpose arena in Wilkes-Barre Twp. The arena hosts a variety of events including concerts, conventions, ice shows and the home games of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins hockey team.

Beekman said the decision to take the arena position was “both easy and difficult.”

It was easy since it is a good move for his career path and since he knows the arena well, having worked for the Penguins for six years after college, he said.

However, it was difficult to leave the Kirby Center, where he worked since 2010 and made many friends, Beekman said.

When asked if he expected any changes in arena operations under his watch, Beekman replied “it’s too early to say.”

He said his management style is similar to Sipe’s and that he expects the arena to continue to work well with other local venues, including the Kirby Center.

Beekman’s departure led to staff changes and promotions at the Kirby Center, though no one was named to replace him as executive director.

Lauren Pluskey McLain was named managing director and will assume all administrative oversight for the organization. She spent the last three years as the venue’s director of development.

Anne Rodella was promoted to artistic director and will guide the theater’s overall artistic vision. Rodella has worked for the Kirby Center for more than 19 years, most recently as director of sales and marketing.

Joell Yarmel was promoted to director of development. She had served as the venue’s associate director of development.

The mood at the Kirby Center on Wednesday was a combination of excitement over new opportunities and melancholy at Beekman’s departure, Rodella said.

“We are sad to see him go but we are excited for him and his family,” she said.

Rodella described Beekman as a gifted communicator who excelled at creating partnerships.

“He changed the direction of the Kirby Center,” she said.

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