Jeff Esposito took on his new role as general manager of the Owensboro Convention Center and Sportscenter on May 26, ahead of a busy summer.
Four conventions this month are expected to draw nearly 5,000 people to the convention center.
And the Sportscenter hosted the Kentucky-Indiana All-Star basketball game on Friday.
Esposito said he would wait about six months before considering any changes to the way the facilities operate.
He commended the cooperation between convention center staff and Owensboro-Daviess County Convention and Visitors Bureau staff.
“It gives us a bigger squad,” he said. “It helps us maintain a diverse business and fill our convention calendar.”
Both the convention center and the sports center have struggled during the coronavirus pandemic.
But Esposito said: “Things are coming back. We are optimistic. Our calendar of events is looking good. We are seeing a sharp increase in activity.
He said he wanted to come to Owensboro with his wife, Richelle, and their 14-year-old daughter, Olivia, because his research showed the community “is a wonderful place to raise a family.”
Owensboro, Esposito said, “is a real vibrant city. And it’s an award-winning building with a great team”
He replaced Laura Alexander, who left Feb. 13 to become vice president of sales and operations for Lexington’s 200,000-square-foot Central Bank Center Convention Center.
Esposito came to Owensboro after four years as executive director of CAM-PLEX multi-event facilities in Gillette, Wyoming.
It features a 1,100-acre mixed-use facility with a 900-seat performing arts theater, 230,000 square feet of convention space, 1,600 RV sites, equestrian facilities, an ice rink, a racecourse and a grandstand.
Prior to Wyoming, he was co-manager of Walmart stores in Erie, Pennsylvania. And from 2008 to 2016, Esposito served as general manager of the Bayfront Convention Center in Erie.
“We spent 24 years in Erie,” he said. “I’ll take the humidity in Owensboro on the snow in Erie.”
A 121-room Home2 Suites by Hilton hotel is under construction across from the convention center, along with 79 apartments and a 250-space parking lot.
“It highlights the value of this building,” Esposito said. “If people weren’t coming to town for conventions, tournaments and other gatherings, this hotel might not be coming up.”