OVG Hires Events DC EVP And COO Samuel Thomas Jr. To Oversee Chicago’s McCormick Place Campus
Oak View Group (OVG), which takes over venue management for Chicago’s McCormick Place on Oct. 1, named veteran convention and hospitality executive Samuel Thomas Jr. as senior vice president and general manager of the campus, which includes McCormick Place, featuring 2.6 million square feet of exhibition space, the 10,000-seat Wintrust Arena and the 4,249-seat Arie Crown Theater.
Thomas, who will relocate to Chicago from Washington, D.C., where he was executive vice president and chief operating officer of Events DC, will begin his new role the first week of September.
McCormick Place hosts some of the largest annual U.S. trade shows, including the National Restaurant Association Show, the Inspired Home Show and the Radiological Society of North America Show, to name a few.
OVG360 and OVG Hospitality, divisions of global sports and entertainment company OVG, were recently awarded the contracts for private management and food and beverage services, respectively, for the McCormick Place campus by the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority (MPEA) Board.
“We will have one of the best operators in the industry managing one of the most iconic convention centers in the world,” said Greg O’Dell, president of venue management, OVG360. “With Samuel’s extensive experience in leading both venue management and food and beverage operations for several first-tier convention centers throughout his career, there is no one better to execute our vision to optimize McCormick Place and help the MPEA and its stakeholders solidify Chicago as an ultimate destination for meeting planners and conventions. We are so thrilled to welcome Samuel to our team.”
At Events DC, Thomas managed daily operations for Washington, D.C.’s convention and sports authority, which includes the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, the Entertainment & Sports Arena, RFK Stadium and surrounding Festival Grounds, the DC Armory and several community assets. His responsibilities included oversight of all aspects of facility operations, event management, sales and marketing, public safety, labor relations, organizational development and other venue competencies.
O’Dell and Thomas worked together at Events DC before O’Dell left the authority to join OVG360 in April 2022.
“This is an opportunity of a lifetime, and I’m excited to join the first-class team at McCormick Place,” Thomas said. “We will partner with MPEA to continue to deliver a high level of customer service to our clients and guests while finding innovative ways to elevate each event experience.”
He continued, “This is a people business, so I am elated to reunite with Greg in addition to working with my new team members. I can’t wait to get started.”
Prior to joining Events DC, Thomas held multiple sales and convention management positions with Marriott Corp. In addition, he served as regional vice president and general manager at Centerplate/NBSE for the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. He also served in several executive leadership roles with the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans, Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia and Greater Columbus Convention Center for the Aramark Corp.