Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Greg Shea returns to helm of Tri-City Storm












From the Kearney Hub

A familiar face is returning to lead the Tri-City Storm hockey team's front office.

Greg Shea, who served as vice president of operations for the Storm from 1999 to 2008, is leaving his job as president of the Kearney Area Chamber of Commerce and will return to the team.Shea, 42, has accepted a job offer from owner Kirk Brooks to work as president of both the Viaero Event Center and Tri-City Storm. Shea will begin his duties on Aug. 1. He left the Storm 1½ years ago to take the chamber job.

"I wasn't looking to get back into the game, but the opportunity to return and be part of the revitalization of the facility and team was very attractive," Shea said. "Deep down, after being in the sports business for so many years, I realized I missed the fast pace, excitement and high-energy environment that comes with the business."

In addition to overseeing the hockey team's day-to-day operations, Shea will be in charge of the 5,000-seat ice rink and entertainment facility that hosts many concerts, other shows and events throughout the year. He will be in charge of all staff.

General Manager Geof Cook will remain with the Event Center, but his responsibilities will change to allow him to focus on booking acts, Shea said.

Brooks said hiring Shea is a key move in taking the team and facility to new levels of success.

"Greg and I share the same aggressive goals in developing both entities," said Brooks, who purchased the hockey team and Event Center in April. "I love Greg's attitude. He's not going to settle for second-best, and he's going to treat the public they way you are supposed to. There's just a lot to like about him and his abilities."Brooks especially is excited about Shea's 17 years of experience in the sports entertainment business. "Nothing makes up for experience," Brooks said. "Greg will bring a level of professionalism and knowledge that's been missing. He is highly thought of in the community, and he knows his way around this business and what it takes to be successful.

"Shea said his new position best fits his career aspirations.

"This was a gut-wrenching decision because I have really enjoyed the role I served with the chamber," he said. "It was great to have been engaged in such progressive and forward-thinking conversations that impacted Kearney's business community.

"It's tough to walk away from that, but this is a career move I feel comfortable with. In the big picture, I just didn't see myself at the chamber 10 or 15 years down the road."

Shea's hiring could be the first of some additional staffing changes at the Event Center, Brooks and Shea said.

"I'm going to rely heavily on the people who already make up the organizational chart," Shea said. "Some roles and responsibilities might change, and we'll be looking at adding some staff, but nobody's role is going to be minimized by my arrival. I'm going to set people up so they can focus on their strengths and be in a position to succeed."

PROFILE: Greg Shea

Greg Shea started his career in sports management when he worked in broadcasting and media relations from 1989-1995 for the Omaha Racers semipro basketball team.

In 1995, he joined the Omaha Lancers hockey club, where he had positions of director of player relations, merchandising manager and assistant general manager.

A Kearney native and 1989 graduate of Kearney State College, Shea was the Tri-City Storm's first general manager and vice president of operations. Working alongside owner Ted Baer, he was instrumental in bringing the team to Kearney from Minnesota in 1999.

Under Shea's leadership, the Storm consistently was among attendance leaders in the United States Hockey League. The team played to sellout crowds 93 straight home games from 2000 to 2003.

The franchise also won the Anderson Cup in 2003-2004 and was named the league's organization of the year twice in its first six seasons. Shea and his staff also were recognized in 2005 as the Kearney Area Chamber of Commerce's Small Business of the Year. Beyond team sports, Shea has served in sports administrative roles as a volunteer, including at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta.

©Kearney Hub 2009

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