New JPJ GM: Wilson exits, Pedone takes over
John Paul Jones Arena officials announced March 16 that Jason Pedone, assistant general manager for the venue since 2007, has replaced Larry Wilson as general manager. Wilson, who has been GM since the arena opened in 2006, has taken a loftier GM position for SMG–- the management company that operates the Arena on behalf of the University–- in Jacksonville, Florida, where he’ll manage six venues in the city.
“Larry leaves us in a great situation,” says Pedone, who served as the director of event services for SMG at Reliant Park, home to the NFL’s Houston Texans, before coming to Charlottesville to assist Wilson. “My goal," he says, "is to keep a good thing going."
Indeed, despite some early skepticism about whether or not such a small community could support such an arena, Wilson lured many of the world’s top touring acts to town, including The Police, Metallica, Bruce Springsteen, Elton John, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Billy Joel, Justin Timberlake, Eric Clapton, and U2, with acts like Larry the Cable Guy, Lipizzaner Stallions, and The Wiggles thrown in for good measure. Under Wilson’s management, the arena was named Pollstar’s Best New Major Concert Venue 2006.
Wilson also managed the Paramount Theater in town, but Pedone says that’s not part of his new job description. He says he doesn't know what SMG’s plans are, but promises to look into it.
Of course, attendance concerns have always been an issue, considering that most major venues like JPJ are in big cities, but Pedone says he’s been impressed with the way such a small community has supported the Arena.
“The building, and the community, really do the work for us,” says Pedone, who was raised in Tennessee and carries the familiar accent. “It’s not easy to support the kind of big acts that come here.”
Moving forward, though, Pedone says the economy will remain a concern, and he hopes the community will continue to show that support. The Arena will continue to bring a wide variety of events to town, he says, everything from chart-topping artists like Lady Gaga to the world’s top professional bull riders.
“Lady Gaga is an artist everyone wants,” says Pedone. “That was a big get for us. And the bull riders, that should be exciting”Š these are the big boys in the sport.”
Personally, Pedone says he’s excited about not having to move.
“There’s lots of moving around in our business,” he says. “So we’re excited to be staying. My family has enjoyed living here these last three years, and we’re looking forward to many more.”